Superhero movies are a global phenomenon with millions of people, both adults and children, flocking to cinemas all across the world to watch their favorite characters fight crime and save the day. In recent years, superhero movies, along with their attendant merchandise, have exploded in popularity, with no signs of slowing down. But, the question remains: are superhero movies appropriate for kids?
Given the violence that superhero movies often contain, and the fact that they are becoming increasingly more graphic, it is natural to worry whether they are suitable material for young viewers. According to Dr. Carolyn Berman, a professor of media studies, superhero movies offer great potential to both inform and educate. She cites the way that they can instill values in children that can be beneficial later on, such as justice, morality, selflessness, heroism, and the belief that one person can make a difference. Such values are often lacking in contemporary films, and so having superhero films as a source of these values can be very beneficial.
However, there is also the concern that young viewers may be unable to distinguish reality from fiction when they watch superhero films. Dr. David Kleeman, a media psychologist and consultant, suggests that action films like superhero films can actually serve to desensitize children to violence, making it appear more acceptable and desirable. Moreover, there is no denying that children are exposed to violent scenes, often highly graphic, when they watch superhero films, which could potentially have a negative influence on their mental and emotional health.
On the other hand, there are certain positive aspects that are associated with superhero films. Studies have shown that these films can have a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem and sense of identity by allowing them to sympathize with the superheroes’ struggles, achievements and journey towards self-actualization. It also helps them to face their own fears and, by seeing the heroes overcome their enemies, it can be a source of admiration that further serves to bolster their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Superhero movies often contain themes of good versus evil, courage and the triumph of justice, which can be beneficial in the way that they get children thinking about such topics. Dr. Isaac Prilleltensky, a specialist in positive psychology and resilience believes that these movies can be a powerful medium to explore important socio-emotional issues that children can face. In this way, they can provide a positive and safe space to talk with children about these issues in a comfortable and entertaining manner.
Value of Fantasy
Fantasy is an important part of any child’s development, and superhero movies can be an excellent medium through which to explore such fantasies. According to Dr. Anjum Najmi, a child development expert, such storylines can help provide a sense of security, adventure and excitement to children, which in turn can help to foster their emotional and imaginative development. In addition, fantasy stories also encourage children to think abstractly and explore alternative perspectives. Consequently, superhero films can be a great way to get children to engage with their imagination and express themselves.
Ultimately, even if such films can offer potential benefits, parents are the ultimately responsible in deciding whether or not their children should watch these movies. While some movies may be suitable for young viewers, it is important to take into consideration their age, maturity level and the graphic nature of the scenes depicted. Parents should also consider their own opinions on violence and the messages that these films are sending and how it will impact their children. They should also involve their children in discussions about the films and be available to answer any questions that may arise from them.
It is also important for parents to encourage open conversations about superhero movies. Through such dialogues it becomes easier for parents to clarify ideas and also allow their children to assent their own opinions. This can further enable children to think more critically and constructively about the themes and values that are presented in movies. At the same time, it allows parents to establish a better understanding of what their children are viewing and provide appropriate guidance in making the right movie choices.
Marketing and Commercialization
Perhaps the greatest concern that parents have with superhero movies is the amount of merchandise and marketing that goes along with them. According to Dr. Jennifer Gibbs, a professor of media economics, there is an ever-growing avalanche of products associated with superhero films that are targeted at children. Such products not only encourage brand loyalty but also, by portraying the superheroes in various merchandise, it encourages children to emulate their behaviour and further fuels their popularity.
Television and Video Games
Finally, when it comes to superhero movies, there are also concerns about the content of other mediums such as television and video games. While these are separate entities from movies, it should be noted that many of the same characters and themes portrayed in films are found in these activities as well. Therefore, parents should also keep an eye out for what their children are watching and playing, ensuring that they are age-appropriate and follow the same guidelines they use when choosing which superhero movies their children will be able to watch.