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The Right Age to Watch Inappropriate Movies

Posted by Kristen on January 4, 2010 at 6:10 AM in Raising Boys
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It started innocuously enough. Or not so much. The boys began playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii across the street. One thing led to another and they were in possession of two very exciting "life savers" as Christmas presents from the more-evolved neighbors across the street. No manner of "light saber" correcting worked. Harrison called it a "life saver" so it was a life saver. I'm sure on more than one occasion, Luke Skywalker would agree.

Ethan realized just a few days ago that we happened to have all six Star Wars episodes on DVD. The sequels, the prequels, I have no idea. Don't get me wrong. I have seen them all but calling the Empire Strikes Back episode V just seems wrong (Sorry, George Lucas).

I put my foot down (or so I thought). "No Star Wars. I don't think it's appropriate for you boys. You are nearly 3 and 5. And frightened by yelling on Arthur. How can you stand the drama of Star Wars?" This, of course, was only partially true. Nate is fearful of nothing but he is 3. It just isn't right.

Somehow this was not properly communicated because I came in on New Year's Day after making coffee to find my husband and three boys watching Star Wars, A New Hope. The baby? Crawling around on the floor as the sound of Jedi knights fighting someone or something corresponded with my Jedi knights going to town on each other as they jumped from the couch to the ottoman with "life savers" a-blazing.

I looked at my husband as if he had lost his mind. He jumped in with a "I think it's fine." Episodes 5 and 6 later and no one seemed horribly worse for the wear. I did get poked in the face with a light saber gone wrong but no one seemed frighted and that Han Solo is a pip. We agreed that Episode 3 was definitely out (too dark) and episodes 1 and 2 didn't even hold their attention. Old school it was. We were in vacation mode, it was bitterly cold outside and I figured television detox could begin on Monday morning.

Good move or bad move to let the kids watch it? Feel free to let me have it. Or my husband, since it was really his fault.

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


Mama V writes...

"Old School it was." Hah hah! Brilliant!

I'm with ya'. A bit too violent for this age group and in general, especially when their imaginations are so impressionable. They'll have plenty of time the rest of their lives to be inundated with violence that our media and society are so obsessed with (and that they thereby normalize). Not to mention that much of the craze around the revival of these old movies with the younger set has so much more to do with money-making marketing schemes surrounding them than the actual appreciation of the movie genre/story.

De in D.C. writes...

We let Will watch the old Star Wars movies around age 5, and I swear it was the biggest mistake of my life for the next year. It's not that he couldn't emotionally handle the storyline or the violence, but rather that everything became Star Wars!! ALL THE TIME!! EVERY DAY!! Good lord, if I had to pretend to be Darth Vader one more time so he could kill me... GAAAH. But yeah; not a big fan of the reenacted violence that stemmed from those viewings.

He's now 9 and still hasn't seen the new ones. Ep 3 is PG-13 so that's an easy call. And who wants to watch Eps 1 & 2?

Wendy writes...

My husband and I allowed our 5 y/o boy and twin 3 1/2 y/o's watch Star Wars. I grew up watching them and loved them. They liked them a lot and all three of them play star wars often. I have no problem with it since there isn't anything inappropriate in them. I find things on Disney more offensive then Star Wars. At least here we don't have children being disrespectful to their parents and our children watching it and thinking that is how a child is to act.

Kristen I understand how you feel, I also understand your husbands point of view. I don't think it was a bad choice as long as they aren't frightened by it.

May the force be with you... LOL. :)

Mary writes...

I think the age you let children watch movies varies from child to child. Some kids mature sooner than others. Some have bad dreams about Darth Vader. There is no one right or wrong answer.-phoenix homes for sale

Theresa writes...

I like life savers. My Star Wars challenged four-year-old son refers to his favorite character as Yodafett.

Dana writes...

I really agree with Mary here, it should vary kid by kid. The more independent and the more open to dialogue your children are, the more, I feel, you should extend them a line of trust.

todd writes...

OMG wow Star Wars is a kids movie all the violance is potty trained down. hell tom n jerry has more violance. you cant keep boys from playing cops n robbers , essentualy what star wars is, good vs bad as long as thy dont do like the kids did from waching mighty orkin power killers did and beat the 5 year old girl to death becous she was the bad power ranger. it comes down to WATCH YOUR KIDS. thy cant beat each other to death if your there controlling them

Amy writes...

I Struggle with the same issue. My husband will watch things with my kids that I don't think is age appropriate. I am always trying to think about my own experience as a kid growing up. I snuck down the street to a neighbors to watch the Michael Jackson premiere of the Thriller video and had nightmares for days! I guess that I have always been sensitive that way.

I went to the movies the other day, while watching the previews, I was struck at how dark and violent everything was. I don't think it is healthy for anyone of any age to intake so much violence and darkness...garbage in/garbage out.

Thanks for writing this!

Karen writes...

I think it's ok because.... it turned out ok! As someone else said, they weren't scared and they obviously have the discernment to know which of the 6 are the good ones! With my kids, things that contain otherwise problematic content are usually ok with me if there's redeeming value. There is a big difference between mindless violence and violence in the context of a really good story with a strong message that right overcomes evil.

Elizabeth writes...

My 6 year old son loves Star Wars. Episode V came out when I
was 5, and I adored it. There is very little gore comparitively, but my son is very good at self sensoring. He doesn't watch the clone wars cartoons and has never seen episode 3, bc he knows they are too scary for him. As tiresome as Star Wars can be, it is also a really effective teaching tool. My son feels bound by certain codes of Jedi conduct - that means he only uses the force for unselfish, good causes. ;-) I give Lucas a lot of credit fir creating something that is incredibly moral and didactic and endlessly entertaining. For me the only major bummer is that there aren't enough female characters and they are at times scantily clad. But, there are plenty of kids out there absorbing much more innapropriate material.

kate writes...

As someone who was never allowed to watch anything scary - I say let them have it! I'm 30 and I can't even watch previews I am such a wuss. No bueno.

Rebeca writes...

I agree that there is not one rule that applies to all kids. A parent must just make the effort to know their kids. In many ways, my 8 year old is quite the old soul--but she's a sensitive old soul, so no Star Wars for her yet. What we have established in the mean time, is the difference between real life and television, and that it is never right to hurt someone.
Unfortunately, the parents that *should* be reading this article--aren't. They're happy to let the television be their babysitter.

Mara writes...

I'd be more likely to let my daughter (almost 3) watch star wars than some of the films I watched at her age. I was born in 1972 and saw the following films in the theatre with one or both parents: Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Trading Places, Saturday Night Fever and An Officer and a Gentleman. Oh, and Animal House. I think my dad took us to see whatever movies he wanted to see whenever my mom dumped the kids on him . . .

Mike writes...

"Or my husband, since it was really his fault."

On a very cold day, your husband sat and watched movies (that he apparently took responsibity for the choice of) with your kids. Why should he get flamed? He wasn't out drinking, gambling or cheating. If he had left them in the room with the movie on, that would be different.

As for movie choice, I agree with the others that what moves are and are not appropriate depend on the specific child. I have just as many problems with my 3 year old son kicking things like "Sid the Science Kid" does his clown (Bandura Experiment anyone?) as I do with any other movie or show. Talk to your kids more and worry less.

For what it's worth, I am not a fan of any of the Star Wars movies.

Jane writes...

I saw the original star wars when I was two. Sitting in the back of a covered pick-up truck, next to a propane tank, while my mom smoked a cigarette - at a drive in theater. I was 2 and the awe inspiring images of R2D2 and C3PO running to the escape pod from Vader's troops - in the first few minutes of the movie - is all that sticks with me today from that viewing -- I thought it was beautiful.
Out of everything that could have scared me for life that night -- star wars was the least of it. Your kids will be fine (and my daughter 4 yr old daughter loves star wars as well)

/Now planet of the apes - first viewing of that -- all of that stuck with me - that was a messed up movie ;-)

Lily writes...

I agree with most of the comments, that this issue does vary based on which child and that the parent needs to think critically on the matter, however, I also think that violent movies are taken a little too seriously (in most cases, anyway). If you know your child is easily frightened, then it's a good idea to keep him/her away from movies that might be traumatizing, but it's also best to educate your children about what's in the movies and the difference between fiction and reality. Odds are, you can't protect your children from everything, so it's best to make sure that they understand as much as they can.

I don't have any children of my own, but I remember my own childhood very well and have deeply analyzed my own upbringing. I was allowed to watch an array of movies from a very young age- movies that might seem inappropriate to most parents. But my mother sat down with me and TALKED to me about it. There WERE movies that I was not allowed to see, of course, and I also understood why I couldn't see them.

As a note, being a child of the 80s/early 90s I was raised on a lot of television, however my mother also took the time to read to me everyday and encouraged me to always practice art, and my hobbies now are largely centered around reading, writing, painting, with some movie watching thrown in during down time.

All in all, I'd say that the media really can't do much harm to your children, as long as you're there to parent them, listen to them, and teach them all that you can to help them form into healthy adults. (btw, I watched star wars for the first time when I was around 2 or 3 and I was a very gentle child)

Fred writes...

I don't think the age of the child is half as important as the fact a parent watched it with them. Violence is part of nature human and otherwise.

Violence for the sake of violence is one thing but violence in defense of the weak and performed with a sense of true self sacrifice is an entirely different stripe.

Watching movies with your kids tells them you care about what they watch without tantalizing them with the proverbial forbidden fruit.

Sandy writes...

I struggle with the same thing. My 7 year old son has seen all of the Star Wars movies, new and old, because my husband let him. It turns out he likes the old ones better, anyway. I wasn't so sure at first, but now it seems to be ok. I was afraid he would go Jedi on his little sister, but instead, he plays the gentleman, and uses his life saver against the couch or air to protect her. She is the princess. Whew! I was very young when I saw these movies, too, and I just keep reminding myself of that. Of course, when I see some of the old movies I liked back then I think "my parents let me watch this??". Of course, I don't remember them being violent or racy until I watch them again, so I must not have been impressed back then.

Kevin writes...

this is total nonsense - of all the disturbing media marketed to children we're concerning ourselves with star wars?
foolish waste of time

Ian writes...

I first saw Star Wars when I was five during the 'famous' 1978 re-release, which was a big deal back then. (I am a '73 model.)

Some people may disagree, but I think I turned out ok.

But, and my mother would confirm, for the next 10 years everything was all Star Wars all the time for me. I *am* the Star Wars Generation.

If you think SW is bad, you should go and watch the original first Bad News Bears movie. A coach that drinks beer in the dugout in front of the children? Good luck getting that one made today.

Ian writes...

I first saw Star Wars when I was five during the 'famous' 1978 re-release, which was a big deal back then. (I am a '73 model.)

Some people may disagree, but I think I turned out ok.

But, and my mother would confirm, for the next 10 years everything was all Star Wars all the time for me. I *am* the Star Wars Generation.

If you think SW is bad, you should go and watch the original first Bad News Bears movie. A coach that drinks beer in the dugout in front of the children? Good luck getting that one made today.

Beth writes...

I let my son watch the original three episodes of Star Wars when he was 3 1/2. He loves them. Our only rule is that he can't watch them right before bedtime.

For Halloween, he wanted to be Luke Skywalker, Daddy to be Han Solo, baby brother to be Yoda, and me to be an X-Wing fighter. Sigh.

KristenAuthor Profile Page writes...

Beth, I see that in my future. Collective sigh.

Amanda writes...

My mother took me to see the first Star Wars film in the theater when I was four years old and I turned out just fine. It was my first movie. I remember it was amazing. I also remember her trying to cover my eyes during the scene when the droids are burning bodies in a funeral pyre. I had no clue why my mother was blocking my view but I understand her intentions now.

My own daughter (who is three) has seen Star Wars. I think a parents’ reaction and input is the biggest influence on a child’s psyche, not necessarily the content of the program. I react calmly and explain that the things on the screen are people in suits, pretending and telling a story for us.

Though she won’t be watching episodes of CSI: Miami anytime soon, we’ve talked about shows with fake fights, fake blood (Halloween prompted that discussion) and the fact that these are stories and the naughty behavior is not what real, good people do to each other. Of course I censor what she is watching. Grownup content is most often not appropriate but Star Wars is pretty tame compared to many films.

Of course, this all depends on the sensitivity and mental maturity of your child. But as long as you are present to explain it or stop the movie if the child is upset, this is good parenting. Entertainment should not be passive viewing; it should always be a platform for discussion, learning and bonding with your family.

Greg writes...

When I was a wee lad I would take cap guns to school (complete with paper caps) in order to play Cowboys & Indians or WW II in the schoolyard at recess.

As someone already mentioned, the violence in Star Wars is stagy melodrama. It is fun and rambunctious, not scary. There is a thrill to be had from the evil, black-clad Darth Vader, but nothing horrifying. The only thing that separates Star Wars from the Errol Flynn swashbucklers of years gone by is better special effects! And at 3 and 5, the movie is so much better than it is 20 years later. Let them have the same fun of it that you had when you first saw it.

Amanda writes...

Pshaw, I remember first seeing Star Wars on TV when I was 5. My parents let me watch R-rated movies that came on HBO (though the more sexual ones were off-limits), they just let me know very early on that movie and things on TV are make-believe and that once the screen goes black, the actors get up and go have a snack. I never had issues with being too scared - the thing that frightened me off to the other room the most that same year was the pie-eating contest scene in Stand By Me, one of my other fave movies at that age (and to this day). But, each kid is different, so you gotta gauge things differently for each one. Just saying where I'm coming from.

Anisa writes...

I held my boys off from watching Star Wars until about age 6 but they were so obsessed they got every book they could find out of the library including all the DK books so they could read about it. They were so knowledgeable (and less scared) by the time they saw the movies.
Star Wars has also proven to be a great topic of dinner conversation. We use it discuss the forces of good and evil and what are the consequences of your actions. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have pivotal scenes in which they have to make a choice between good and evil. I have asked my boys what they thought about these choices and what they think of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious by the end of the Return of the Jedi.

If our kids watch movies before they are ready I find if we talk about it afterwards we can have some pretty interesting conversations...

Carl writes...

It's funny, talking about Star Wars being inappropriate. While we teach bible stories of hell and damnation. Hanging people on crosses, war, you know the bible has it all.

Kids playing swords, (or Light Sabers) it's what they do. It's good for them to be physical. I have a niece thats not aloud to play anything that her parents construe as violent. The minute they turn around she picks up one of my sons play foam swords and starts hitting everyone directly in the face. Her parents blame us for having "weapons" in the house.

Parental responsibility is whats needed, being involved. Trying to protect the children from everything is impossible. We need to also help them deal with life in a realistic manner.

Gail writes...

We have a 7 year old son who has always been VERY sensitive to any hint of violence - his 1st time watching football even took a lot of explanation! When he was younger, my husband and I played (tickling, etc) he would get this extremely worried look on his face and yell out "No!"
Needless to say, both my husband & I had strong inhibitions about letting him watch not only Star Wars, but other similarly "violent" movies like Harry Potter (and others.. but I can't remember them at this exact moment. We finally dug down and discovered that our main concern wasn't always "violence" but rather the issue of "mean-ness."
And so, we talked to him often and in depth about what he saw on the news or even in real life; and now - sensitivity still in tact - he's a BIG member of the Star Wars "fan club." He's a complete fanatic (as other parents have noted, this seems to be quite common!) and has watched all of the episodes multiple times (we watched them with him the first time.)
I agree with what someone else posted: it's good vs evil and there are no children being disrespectful to adults, etc. which is something I'm much more sensitive to and much more inclinded to sensor (which is a HUGE reason why I LOVE PBS Kids, btw!)
So... all in all, I think it's about the emotional maturity of the kid in question as well as the true nature of the violence that you're watching... as someone else said - is it violence for the sake of violence? (is it "violent" or is it "mean?" ... "mean" is worse in my book; and are there real issues of respect involved?
I do worry, however, about the whole "desensitization" thing... I don't want him to ever "get used to" violence or to seeing people treat each other badly....

Matt writes...

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Esther writes...

I let my 3 year old watch ep 4-6. He loved them and we had a great time with it. I'm a big fan and collector and so I was able to start sharing my collectibles with him.
He is 4 now and though he says he loves Star Wars, he refuses to watch the movies again. He likes Star Wars books and toys, but knows there was some kinda scary stuff in those movies and doesn't want to see it again. He also pretends things are guns, which I hate, and that was his only exposure to that idea-- the blasters and stuff. I'm glad that we've been able to share Star Wars together but in retrospect, I wish I could have waited another couple of years.

Randy writes...

I would'nt choose SW movies for my 3, 5, & 6 year olds but every Disney movie we watch has some degree of violence in them too. Ever scene a Disney flick w/o a gun in it? Very rare.

Nate writes...

I havent let my 3 year old see any of them yet, but I can't wait for him to turn 6!

My brothers and I grew up with these, and as hammy as it might sound I have always thought that watching and playing Star Wars (The first 3, I wont even acknowledge the second set)contributed positively to our characters. Defending the weak, opposing totalitarianism, resisting the lust for power, the importance of cultivating meaningful friendships, using violence only in the pursuit of a just peace, the need to learn fencing, etc., are all values I cherish. Star Wars helped instill those.

David writes...

Well, I am a father, and it is the mother that takes the cavalier attitude with the boys in my situation. However, all husband/father wife/mother bashing aside, I would say that it is important that the two of *you* communicate about what is appropriate for *your* sons to watch. Mine are 9 and 12 now, and the 12 year old is in no way prepared for the violence, gore, sex and horror that many of his peers are allowed to watch. After twelve years of talking to him respectfully and explaining things to him (as opposed to 'controlling', which I read in one of the comments), he trusts me to evaluate things for him and share my opinion. In nearly 99% of the cases, he takes my advice on whether something is appropriate or not for him to view. There is also an excellent online resource,, that reviews movies for violence, sex, and language content, and gives a 1-10 rating for each instead of the vague MPA ratings which really don't tell you much. There are sometimes spoilers in the reviews, but it is VERY comprehensive, and has saved us many times. In addition, they point out major themes of the movie so that you can talk to your kid(s) afterward about the lessons and points of the story, and whether they agree with the outcome. Also important, as someone else has already mentioned. Good luck and happy parenting!

KristenAuthor Profile Page writes...

David, my husband bashing is all in good fun. He's a good sport.

Tina writes...

It certainly is a different time now. I grew up with Star Wars and never would have thought of it as violent, especially these days. I suppose there is different kind of violence-- like the kind that is more action-oriented (like sci-fi movies) and violence that creeps into your mind (I let my little brothers watch Poltergeist when I was babysitting way back when. BIG mistake). What I find interesting is when parents are ok with letting their older kids/tweens watch shows with people getting murdered, or games where they are "shooting" others-- but freak out if a couple is making out on the screen. We don't want them to see love, but we are ok with letting them see hate.

KristenAuthor Profile Page writes...

Tina, I have seen 20 seconds total of Poltergeist and I can get replay it in my mind frame by frame. LOL. No scary movies for me either. And you make an excellent point about the odd places parents draw a line.

Ashley writes...

Esther --

You're saying that your kid is four years old, and Star Wars has been the -only- thing that has introduced the concept of guns? I find this hard to believe, and somewhat saddening if it's true.

As other people have already said, the content of a movie doesn't matter nearly as much as the discussion you have about it. Watch things with your kids, discuss the behavior seen on the screen and the decisions that were made. And if your child is capable of understanding and empathizing with the things each character feels, and capable of considering alternative choices, then maybe that's what's important. It certainly says more relevant things about their moral character than their picking up anything L-shaped and making "pew pew pew" noises.

Mike writes...

I think you're overreacting personally. So long as you teach them to differentiate between real and pretend as well as right and wrong, you will be fine. Star Wars has clear cut good guys and bad guys. It shows how good guys can turn bad and how bad guys can be redeemed. It teaches the values of friendship and it shows how people from different backgrounds can come together for a common cause and work together. It teaches that personal freedom is something worth fighting for.

My younger brother saw his first Star Wars movie (Empire) at the age of four in 1980. He was not phased by it one whit. However, this same child got scared during the opening of E.T. in 1982, which was a less violent film. Kids are strange like that. Fast forward to today, he's a well-adjusted and married adult working for a nonprofit organization helping adults with cerebral palsy.

KristenAuthor Profile Page writes...

Mike, we did run into a little trouble with the bad guys pretending to be good guys (Supreme Chancellor) and people who defected to the bad side. Lots of "is everyone on the screen right now a good guy?" questions. LOL. But your point on lessons to be learned from the movies is true.

amy writes...

I believe I was under five the first time I saw Star Wars (the original one which is now considered what - episode 4?).....and the opening fighting sequence scared me. So did the scene with the three heros stuck in the trash compactor. So did the bit about Luke's aunt and uncle being incinerated! Come to think of it, every part was either scary or at very least, had a tremendous amount of tension. And i LOVED it! It was fantastical enough so that I was removed from the action and the characters were adults - which also helped (not so with movies like The Neverending Story, where a child was in peril).

So, now I have a 7 month old and I'm certain that between myself and his sci-fi geek of a dad, there will be a Star Wars viewing in the next few years.

P.S. I'm so glad kids are still insisting it's called a "life saver". It's not exactly untrue, you know....

Ami writes...

This is a hard one. It certainly varies child to child even movie to movie. You may let them watch something that you think might scare them and they're fine and something that shouldn't scare them at all they're clinging to you and sleeping in your bed for a week!

This is a big issue between my husband and I. We both agree that most of his movies are "out"; they're too full of violence, drugs and sex. We're both fine with oldschool Starwars, Indiana Jones (the kids call him Doctor Jones LOL) and a lot of that stuff from the 80's that we grew up with. Sadly enough, we aren't watching most of the new Disney movies because of the ton of whining, disrespecting parents, inappropriate clothing (I'm not a prude but my daughter just isn't going to wear a skirt that barely covers her butt, I don't care who's name or face is on it).

The violence part in movies makes it especially hard. Where do you draw the line? For instance, as mentioned before that drops most of the movies my husband likes. But what about the types of movies that I love and can also be a bit dark & violent such as the Dark Crystal, Voyage of the Unicorn, Krull, LOTR trilogy, Stardust, The 10th Kingdom, Doctor Who, etc. It's full of fantasy, adventure and all of that but as my husband has pointed out how is the violence different from his movie to mine? He does have a point but for the life of me I can't figure out why I feel ok letting the horde watch a fantasy movie that may have some violence or dark moments vs. something of my husbands. Perhaps his stuff is just more coarse? Who knows. I do remember coming in though and catching him letting our 2 yo (at the time) watch the Exorcist! He's never done that again, thankfully.

This is a huge debate that doesn't have any direct answers. The best any of us can do is just to make sure to be there when they're watching questionable content so we can answer any questions and help describe what's happening and why. And while I could do without the mock light saber battles, and the kungfu fighting, I also know that's how our children learn. The urge to fight is an innate ability in all of us from when we HAD to fight for our survival and in the way of things, that's not really that long ago. It has nothing to do with watching violent movies although I do admit that there is no need for those types of movies and depending on the circumstances it can lead the kids into trouble. So many times I have seen the kids turn anything into a small gun or a sword and just play with it. It's who and what they are. 60 years ago we thought nothing of kids running around and playing cops & robbers, or cowboys & Indians. There certainly weren't any movies full of the stuff we worry about now.

I recommend that anyone having a struggle with this issue read "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence" by Gerard Jones. This book has really helped me find a middle ground and some balance on this issue.

Elizabeth writes...

I didn't want to watch Star Wars. Too much adrenaline.

shane writes...

I'm wholly unqualified to answer, since (1) I was scolded by my son's kindergarten teacher for taking him to see Ghost Rider, (2) we also let him watch the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy (except the opening scene of Return of the King with Smeagol off'ing his brother), and (3) he could quote Leonidas from "300" at age 7.

Anne writes...

I am surprised there are so many comments. According to my children, they are the only kids who have any censors placed upon them. LOL My kids are now 9 and 12. Have watched all SW movies. I often find myself thinking the commercials on television stations and the news more violent, racy and suggestive. We just got a sattelite dish 1 yr. ago - I don't like the disrespect on the Disney channel and some of the ads for other shows on different cable channels are not stopped by setting controls on the box (supposed V-chip type).
In general, I agree it varies from kid to kid and movie to movie and watching them together.

Jean writes...

When it comes to Star Wars, I'm kind of torn with the whole violence issue. I was 6yo when I saw it in the theater in 1977. I was not scarred by the killing, nor did I have violent tendencies. I was more captivated with the whole fantasy thing about it. The good vs. the bad, rescuing the princess, handsome pirate (sigh!).

X2 and I are BIG "old school" Star Wars fans. There was never a question about whether or not to allow our son to watch the movies. We MADE SURE he did.

I think that when it comes to censoring age-appropriate movies for children, one should take into account the personality and behavioral tendencies of the child, as well as graphic aspects and your own preferences. A previous article posted here (I think it was) illustrated this point. What bothers me might not bother my child, because they're focused on something else on the screen entirely. Also, a young child is more sensitive to the reactions of the parent, as a clue as how to react to stories and movies. Parents' behaviors have more influence on their children than they think. Think about that, as well, when choosing what to allow your child to watch.

Leonard writes...

I laugh at the suggestion that things are more violent today, that's a joke. There is more comic book violence today, sure, but the 'real' and gripping violence is long gone from our screens. Recall, the Vietnam war was broadcast on TV every night, in the news hours, before prime time. Nothing on TV now compares by even a shadow to the things we saw when we were 'impressionable'.

In addition to seeing a real war each night, I was also allowed to watch all the violent crime dramas of the 70s, starting at about age 3. I found it invaluable. My parents were always there to answer my questions, which were many, as I had a hard time following the story most of the time.

Neither because nor in spite of this 'exposure' to such extreme violence, real and realistic, I am one of the most passive people I know. I still enjoy very violent content, realistic and comic book style, and have no issue playing the most violent video games. I see a total separation between the content we enjoy and who we are.

The person inside totally overrides everything one sees and takes in. People with violent tenancies don't need to be inspired by TV, movies and games, and no amount of violent content is going to make me behave differently.

I think over censoring our children is both insulting to their intelligence and does them a disservice. Lots of 'age inappropriate' content could teach them much more important lessons about the world than Dora or Barney, as long as we, as parents, are there to help them figure things out.

My 5 year old had nightmares from watching the Smurfs when he was younger, but nothing was too frightening from all 6 Star Wars films, which he started watching at 3. He did have a lot of questions about how the clone/storm troopers went from good guys to bad guys, but this was a great opportunity to explain how the world is not simply black and white, but lots of shades of gray.

I'm not going to sit in judgment of other parents, because each child is an individual, and their needs need to be addressed when deciding these things. Some children would do fine with the Smurfs, I'm sure. But I think it's a big mistake to keep valuable content from them because of some notion of 'age inappropriateness'. There is a better way to evaluate things which will make them smarter and more aware and appreciative of their world. The most important thing is for us to be there with them and for them. To me, the rest is secondary.

Brian writes...

Good Lord.

Where has this overprotective psychosis in my generation come from? I'm both horrified and embarassed to think ANYONE in my generation could think Star Wars is inappropriate.

Humanity is doomed if we're going to keep raising our children as freakin' pansies.

Too mant parents say, "parents know what is best for their children." Bull. Too many parents have no clue and will always underestimate how strong their children are.

Matt writes...

I'm limiting all television/movies for my 3 y/o son & 1 y/o daughter right now. I want them to develop personalities of their own first and I also want first dibs on teaching them values, ethics, and morality before some bratty preteen kid or a purple dinosaur attempt to do it for me. I'm not going to give up that right just because I wanted to use the boob tube as a babysitter.

Lori writes...

I'm surprised at all the bashing for wanting to be cautious about what young children watch. Might be a prime example of what is going wrong with kids lately. -I'm just sayin'.

Did I see Star Wars when I was a small child? Yep. Did I turn out okay? I think so. Am I going to let my 3 1/2 year old watch it? No way.
I don't think of it as a particularly violent movie by today's standards, but I don't think it's appropriate for my child at her age, and that's all that matters.

Marelle writes...

I like what Lori what wrote. Nothing wrong to ask the question or wonder about whether it is appropriate.

Richard Waxner writes...

Hey there,
If you really are considering letting your kids watch starwars I demand like any other fan to make them watch the ORIGINALs none of the GREEDO SHOT FIRST remastered garglemesh they're releasing. Show it to them in the original order New Hope to Return of The Jedi and then if you wan't to humor them with Jar Jar's idiocracy then show them 1 and 2 however I agree that Episode 3 is much to dark for anyone under the age of 7. Honestly if your afraid of them becoming violent then homeschool them, close the blinds, smash the tv, and seak the door. Star Wars isn't SAW people stop being such protective parents and honestly just stop BITCHING.

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