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16 Feb

Is The Hunger Games Too Much Violence For Children?

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The Hunger Games is one of the hottest movies out.  Teens and tweens are rushing to the movie theaters and increasing their levels of literacy as they hurry to read the three books in the series.  Yet both the movies and the books feature a great deal of violence.  Should parents be concerned?  It depends on the age of the child and their sensitivity level.

Children who watch primetime TV or play video games may be exposed to violence and aggression on a regular basis.  Parents should monitor their children’s behavior and make sure they know the difference between fantasy play and reality.  Try to help children use words to express their anger.  Examples include saying “I’m angry or frustrated,” with a sibling before hitting or even the parent modeling this behavior by saying “I’m tired from a long day of work and that is why I’m cranky today.”  They should also provide safe ways for children to express their own anger or aggression.  Some ideas for this might include an anger space featuring noodles that the child can hit against the wall, egg cartons to smash, or phone books to tear.

Parents who limit their children’s exposure to violent media may want to read the books themselves to preview the amount of violence or look on a website that rates and describes movie violence.  Parents who decide to allow their children to go may accompany the children to the movie.  Discussion might follow on scenes that seemed the most disturbing so the child can express any feelings they may have on actions that were concerning.  Also tell the child to let you know if they are having bad dreams following the film.  If so reassure them that it is a fantasy story and be available in the event that they need you to provide additional attention as they regain their sense of security.  If a child is young, under 8 or 9 and particularly sensitive to violence or emotional events; it may make sense to tell them that the movie is not appropriate and redirect them to another film.