Many tweens watching 'R' films
Researchers know what your tween saw last summer:
savage beatings, severed heads, murder, rape and
In a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics,
researchers from Dartmouth Medical School estimate more
than 2.5 million children ages 10 to 14 watch the
typical violent, R-rated movie.
A few movies, such as Blade, Hollow Man and Bride of
Chucky, claim what researchers say are huge child
audiences — as many as 7.8 million, including an
estimated 1 million 10-year-olds.
"Ten isn't far away from believing in Santa Claus," says
researcher Keilah Worth.
Previous studies have found violent media can increase
aggression and desensitize to real violence, and many
violent films are marketed during kids' TV shows.
Worth and colleagues asked 6,522 children if they had
seen movies from a list of 534 released in the past few
years. Researchers plucked 40 R-rated movies with "the
most extreme examples of graphic violence" and found
that, on average, 12.5% of kids had seen each movie.
The study didn't ask whether children saw them in
theaters, on video, on cable TV or on the Internet, but
more than one in three said parents let them watch
R-rated movies "sometimes" or "all the time." Even among
kids who said their parents never let them watch such
movies, 22.6% had seen at least one.
Children with TVs in their bedroom saw more violent
movies, and African-American boys were much more likely
to have seen them. More than 80% said they had seen
Blade, Training Day and the horror spoof Scary Movie.
Theaters admit children under 17 to R-rated movies with
an adult. Researchers say ratings must warn explicitly
that violent movies "should not be seen by young
adolescents." And they say pediatricians should teach
parents about the risks.
Gerard Jones, author of Killing Monsters: Why Children
Need Fantasy, Superheroes and Make-Believe Violence,
says it's not surprising kids see such movies. "As nasty
as the movies are, they are a classic, vital part of
teen culture," he says, by allowing kids to bond as they
scream in terror.
But he sees the wisdom in modifying ratings to add
"something between an R and an NC-17 rating" and says
intensely violent movies "are not for someone under 14."
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