Impact of scary TV 'overstated'
The impact of scary television on children's well-being has been overstated, according to psychologists at a British university.
Researchers found that while a small minority of children can exhibit extreme reactions to a frightening programme or film, most show very little sign of increased fear, sadness, anxiety or sleep problems.
University of Sussex research student, Laura Pearce, and Andy Field, Professor of child psychopathology at the university, reviewed all research into the topic carried out over the past 25 years.
Their findings, published in the journal Human Communication Research, suggest that children are fairly resilient to scary items they see on television generally.
Prof Field said: "Across studies, scary TV had an impact on children's well-being but it was fairly small on average, suggesting that most children are not affected very much at all."
The researchers also noted that TV guidelines focussed on violent content at the expense of non-violent but frightening content, such as worrying news reports or content depicting psychological stress or phobias.
Prof Field added: "Although at the group level the effect of scary TV on children's anxiety is small, it is nevertheless present.
"This finding has implications for policy-makers because TV guidelines focus on violence but, for some children, scariness will matter and TV can be scary without being violent."