LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — The horror movie genre is considered one the most popular film genres in the world. Film Site defines horror films as “films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm and to invoke our hidden worst fears.” 

With Halloween just days away, several horror movies have been released in theaters and on streaming platforms over the last month. IGN called streaming the “new frontier for horror movies” due to its increasing accessibility for people of all ages. 

The newfound accessibility on streaming platforms raises the question: “Should children be allowed to watch horror movies?” 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Natalie Scanlon with the Texas Tech Health and Human Sciences Center said she encourages caregivers not to show children content that is too graphic or gory.

“Spare them any of the gory details, violence, blood, guts, that type of thing, just because they’re not developmentally ready to see those images and not think that they’re real,” Dr. Scanlon said.   

Dr. Scanlon elaborated, saying early exposure to graphic and gory content could be “potentially traumatic.” 

“When kids are exposed to excessively scary movies, images, or even haunted houses, they tend to have some of the symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Dr. Scanlon explained. 

The phenomenon of being scared is an experience that all humans can relate to, according to Dr. Scanlon. However, people process fear and similar situations differently.

“One of the things that I tend to recommend is just to make sure to take a trauma-informed approach, because we know that …people have experiences of adverse childhood events and trauma far and wide,” Dr. Scanlon said. “Use some caution before asking other people to engage in that, that may be fine for you and have no triggering effect. 

Dr. Scanlon recommended parents and caregivers use lighthearted films such as “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Hocus Pocus” to get their children in the spirit for the spooky season. Anything graphic or violent should be reserved for people 18 and older.