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Here's how violent, graphic and scary movies affect your kids

Published: Monday, July 21 2014 3:37 p.m. MDT

In this undated image originally released by Warner Bros., Heath Ledger portrays The Joker in a scene from "The Dark Knight." Children have been affected by violent and graphic movies for years. Here's how.

Anonymous, Associated Press

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Movies are affecting people — from old to young — in a number of different ways.

The damage done to kids after watching violent or graphic movies has been thoroughly noted in recent years, as well as throughout history. And the long-term effects aren’t that promising for the most part.

A 1999 study, for instance, highlighted that scary movies can have a damaging impact on children and teens. The research found about 52 percent of kids had trouble sleeping or eating after watching “a frightening film or TV program.”

It was a similar story in 2003 when AllPsych Online, an online classroom dedicated to psychology, noted that “children who view media violence are more likely to have increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence and injury that lead to violent behavior through imitation.”

Now, more than a decade later, the effects are still being talked about. The Association for Youth Children and Natural Psychology noted that films can improve the language and social skills of a child, but they can also increase their violent and aggressive behavior.

“There is evidence that films for young children have become significantly more violent in recent years and that children are increasing amounts of time watching movies,” the associated noted.

The National School Safety Center (NSSC) said that much of the recent violence plaguing schools has been created by violent and graphic films. Instead of learning about the values in school, students are more likely to watch movies to gain information about what morals to follow.

This falls in line with what Sasha Emmons of Parenting.com recently wrote for CNN. The piece explained that kids are likely to follow in the footsteps of the heroes they see in the movies, who have been engaging in more violent behavior in recent years.

But the NSSC explained that help can come from policies and laws created to limit the young from watching violent and graphic materials.

“With the children being the future leaders of out nation, it is only right that we provide them with knowledge and films that promote good moral character and this will help not only in shaping their future, but also in shaping our nation’s future as well,” the NSSC noted.

Parents have options to avoid damaging films. Deseret News National offered a guide for you and your family to find films that fit your wants and needs. Many of the websites in the guide give a good look into films and what you may want to watch out for.

“Your kids want to watch a movie with you. Great. Family time is always good,” the National reported. “But finding the right film may be hard, especially if you’re looking for one that’s family-friendly.”

And it’s not all bad for kids. Take this dad, for example, who turned his young son into an action movie star with some quick editing, according to UPROXX.

“Every parent thinks of their kid as a tiny hero.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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