• Navigating Halloween Entertainment with Kids

    by  • October 24, 2018 • Other • 1 Comment


    Halloween is just one week away, and already Hollywood has been busy turning-out blood-chilling feature films, specials and original series. Jamie Lee Curtis is back in theaters with a new addition to the Halloween franchise, and Netflix has released an original horror series, The Haunting of Hill House, that according to some reports, is actually making viewers physically ill. And while there are many light-hearted and fun Halloween specials and programs made specifically with children in mind (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown being a perennial favorite), much of the Halloween-themed entertainment available is decidedly not child-friendly. Here are five tips to help navigate your way through the sometimes tricky world of Halloween entertainment to find a treat you can safely enjoy with your children.

    1. Be Clear About What’s Okay and What’s Not

    Every family has different rules and sensitivities around Halloween. Some families don’t want to acknowledge it in any way; some are okay with costumes and trick-or-treating, but not with anything that’s dark, scary or supernatural; some are okay with mild scares, but not with things that are gruesome or gory. You know your children better than anyone else, you know what they are sensitive to, and you know what your family’s values are – that puts you in the best position to decide what’s okay for your kids and what’s not.

    2. Older movies can be a good alternative for safe scares and light-hearted entertainment

    Although some older movies can certainly be dark and scary – especially for young viewers – channels like Turner Classic Movies will often air classic comedies like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein or Arsenic and Old Lace around this time of year. Children and parents alike can laugh at the silly antics of the stars without getting nightmares.

    3. Skip the ads

    Sometimes just the ads for horror films can be terrifying, and this is the time of year when you’re likely to get a glut of horror film ads. If you have a DVR, use it to skip through the commercial breaks or switch to a streaming service until the season is past – but beware, even the streaming services are likely to be promoting scary content, and sometimes even the cover-art for horror films can scare youngsters — so you might want to send the youngest members of the family out of the room while you navigate the menu.

    4. Classic cartoons are often a safe choice

    Generations of kids have grown up watching the Peanuts gang go trick-or-treating while Linus patiently waits for the Great Pumpkin – and it’s still every bit as entertaining today as it was when it debuted in 1966. Old Scooby Doo cartoons can help remind children that monsters aren’t real; Pixar cartoons like Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University can help make them less scary.

    5. Find some safe, fun, kid-friendly alternatives to watching TV

    Autumn is a great time for corn mazes, farmers markets, apple picking, pumpkin patches, baking, trunk-or-treat, or myriad other safe, fun, kid-friendly activities. See what’s available in your area. The less time spent in front of the TV, the less likely it is your child will be exposed to some of the darker, more disturbing Halloween fare that’s out there.



    Ms. Henson is a noted expert on entertainment industry trends and the how the impact of entertainment affects children and the American popular culture at large. She also directs the organization’s Advertiser Accountability Campaign, which encourages companies to sponsor family-friendly entertainment. She previously supervised the research and program content analysis operations of the PT and produced a number of groundbreaking PTC studies that document the levels of graphic sex, violence and profanity on television. Some of those reports include: The Ratings Sham I & II, Dying to Entertain, Faith in a Box, The Sour Family Hour, The Blue Tube, and TV Bloodbath. She began her career with the PTC in 1997 as an entertainment analyst, documenting instances of inappropriate content on television. Ms. Henson has appeared on a variety of television shows including Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Big Story, CNN Headline News’ ShowBiz Tonight, CNBC’s On the Money, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, and CBN’s Newswatch. She is a frequent guest on radio talk shows across the country and has been quoted extensively in news sources such asEntertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Variety, Associated Press, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Ms. Henson is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in Government. She resides in Falls Church, Va., with her husband and their son.

    One Response to Navigating Halloween Entertainment with Kids

    1. XKE
      October 27, 2018 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you for uploading this article. You should spend more of your time giving helpful advice to parents with articles like this and less time begging Hollywood to do what you want. I say this because Hollywood is never going to change.

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