We have known for years that scary stuff:
Free TV Australia is reviewing its Code of Practice. The proposed changes will:
New Research throws more light on the issues:
However, the publication of the article resulted in some misleading headlines and reports on May 31st 2015.
Given this, ACCM asked Joanne Cantor about the major findings of the research, She said:
News reports that have covered the meta-analysis by Pearce and Davies are misleading and erroneously dismissive of the effects of scary media on children. That analysis reports that scary television has a small but consistent negative effect on children's well-being, and that the negative effects is significantly stronger for children under the age of 10. The authors themselves do not consider the findings unimportant. They suggest that the small overall effect size may be due to the fact that some children (a minority) are more vulnerable that others to intense effects. In looking these findings, it also must be recognized that it is ethically impossible to expose children to intensely frightening fare in the laboratory. Therefore, most experiments purposely induce only small effects by using very mild stimuli.
But the meta-analysis findings are only a small part of the picture. As the authors acknowledge, there are many more studies of media effects on children that are amenable to meta-analysis in this context. In fact, of the relevant studies they identified, 72% could not be included.
The studies not included in the meta-analysis show fright reactions to be both typical and severe. In six surveys (ranging from 1933 to 2010), intense fright reactions have been reported by an average of 63% of respondents. In more extensive surveys, between 90 to 100% of respondents have described an intense and enduring media fright experience. Moreover, a majority of these respondents have reported phobia-related symptons such as free-floating anxiety and disturbances in eating or sleeping. For a third of these respondents, the disturbances have endured a year or more.
The bottom line is: It is wise to protect children from inadvertently being exposed to scary media. And policies that help parents protect their children are not only worthwhile, they're essential to children's healthy development.
1. Free TV's Code proposals should not be permitted to:
2. Australia's classification system should:
3. More parents need to know about and act upon the impacts of scary material on children.
See our Stop Ambushing Parents campaign for actions on trailers
Let your local federal member know that you want an aged based classification system, and on that takes scariness into account.