The Effects of Horror Movies on Child Psychology

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Sooner or later, the vast majority of us are exposed to horror movies in some way. Whether you watch it with your eyes wide open or through your fingers, horror movies can have an exponential impact on our lives depending on when we have been exposed.

The question remains, however: are horror movies potentially damaging to children? Some of us are exposed earlier than others, which leads to the question of whether children should be exposed to horror movies earlier on in life.

Psychological Effects of watching Horror Movies

While not every child who watches a horror movie at a young age will be impacted, there are some very real effects of horror movies on child psychology. The psychological impacts of watching horror movies can have a few different impacts.

Lead to the perception of reality

For one, it can lead to a struggle with the perception of reality. Children who are exposed to horror movies at an earlier age may have a difficulty determining what is real and what is not. Children already have difficulty determining the difference between reality and fiction, but these movies can skew that perception even further.

Unreality and Mental Health Disorders

There can be a fear of losing control, feelings of “unreality”, fear of dying, and more. If you know that your child has been exposed to a horror movie, it may help to sit them down and explain some of the differences between real life and the movies.

There is also the potential that mental health disorders can emerge. Children who watch horror movies, according to some studies, have been deemed more likely to develop sleep disorders, engage in self-endangering behaviors, and develop anxiety.

It is because of the potential mental health disorders that the decision to show a child these types of movies should not be taken lightly. Take these things into consideration when deciding whether to show your children scary movies at a young age.

Can Horror Movies Affect Your Behavior?

Of the potential effects of horror movies on child psychology, the ability to change their behavior is perhaps the biggest. There are more than a few instances where a child has seen a horror movie or movies and seen a major shift in their behavior going forward.

This is partially because kids are notorious for copying the things that they see. Whether it is a dance move, a line from their favorite show, or something else, they will pick up on it and repeat the things that they see.

Make the Child more Aggresive

When it comes to horror movies, the prospect of imitating the things that they see in those movies are not cute or funny. It is possible for a child to become more aggressive based on the things that they see in these movies. The possi

bilities are endless as to the detriments that can present, particularly when interacting with other children.

Cause Children scared and cling to their parents

There is also the chance that they could become scared and cling to their parents. It is not uncommon for adults to hide behind a partner when something scary comes onto the screen. Imagine that feeling for a child who is too young to really get the difference between reality and fantasy.

It is not uncommon for nausea, crying, and clinging tendencies to become part of the norm when viewing horror movies that have unsettling themes. Parents should know their children best. If you think that your child is a bit squeamish, showing them a horror movie should probably be on the shelf for a little while to come.

How to Stop Being Scared of Scary Movies?

So, whether you are hoping to show your kids or just get over horror scares yourself, there is the matter of how to stop being scared. There is no simple solution, though there are a few thoughts on the matter.

Approach the Matter with Logic

The first is to approach the matter with logic. For the most part, horror movies are clear fantasy. Maybe it’s a monster with claws or from another dimension. While it is scary at the moment, telling yourself that it isn’t real can be a huge help.

Granted, it can be difficult to find that thought when fear becomes overwhelming. This is why holding off on showing children these movies may be best. They don’t have the cognitive abilities to separate reality from fantasy quite yet, so they aren’t able to approach the situation with a logical mind.

Try to watch it again

There is another way that we can approach these movies and stop being scared. Believe it or not, it involves watching it again. One of the big scary moments in any movie is known as the “jump scare.” It is when something comes out of nowhere to provide the big scare.

By watching the movie a second time, you mitigate the impact of that big scare. It can help you look at the movie in a different light, taking some of the jolt out of that scare. Which, in turn, can help you view the movie as less scary than you initially might have.

The simple fact of the matter is that every case is different. There are some children who have seen horror movies at young ages and turned out to be well-rounded adults. There are others still who have had myriad problems because of watching those movies.


Each child is different emotionally and developmentally. If you have an inkling that your child may not handle these movies well, don’t risk it. You can get a feel for how they may react by showing them things that have a smattering of darker themes before having them take the plunge.

Horror movies are part of our culture. But it may be worth waiting before introducing them to your children.


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