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Are Scary Scenes On TV Really Damaging Your Child?

First Posted: Jun 02, 2015 07:31 PM EDT

New findings published in the journal Human Communication Research show that the impact of horror, violence or scary scenes on television may not be as terrible as once thought when it comes to your kids.

Researchers at the University of Sussex have found that a small amount of children can have extreme reactions to a scary program or film with a little sign of increased anxiety, fear, sadness or even sleep problems.

"Across studies, scary TV had an impact on children's wellbeing but it was fairly small on average, suggesting that most children are not affected very much at all," researcher and professor Andy Field said in a statement.

The study was based on reviewed research from topics carried out over 25 years. Based on the findings, researchers concluded that children were fairly resilient to things that they might see on television.

Yet fear and anxiety among some children and teenagers seems to be on the rise- for instance, children in the 1980s reported higher levels of anxiety than psychiatric patients in the 1950s, with an increase that has continued to present day.

"We need to do more research into why particular children can be severely affected by particular content on TV. What is it about the media or about those individuals that causes this reaction? There is good reason to believe, for example, that already anxious and/or introverted children might be less resilient to scary content," Field concluded. "Once we know why certain children are more affected by what they watch than others, we can give more specific and useful advice to parents, rather than assuming that all scary TV is bad for all children, which this analysis shows is not the case."

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