Should We Scare Our Kids?

Are we being too gruesome or not gruesome enough? Should we really scare the crap out of our kids?

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. Hello all! My first post on ChannelAwesome :).

    While I respect the views of Doug/The Critic, I feel there are a few points on which I must disagree.

    For starters, while I agree that negative things such as being scared can be healthy in terms of growth, that’s only if the growth can be fostered. Doesn’t seem like such a hard task, except when you consider a few things about child psychology. There’s a certain thresh hold below which kids simply can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, hence why they get freaked out if their own father puts on a mask. To a more developed brain, it’s simply a man who has put on a mask. But to that kid, it’s a terrifying imposter who has taken the place of their father.

    I agree that careful scares could be fruitful, but I feel that it may be too difficult to do that without traumatizing a kid for a long time, if not for life.

    Also, I believe that some of Doug’s view points are a bit biased. I mean, He has a fascination with darkness that I have not seen equaled, but I doubt many kids do. And his views on treating kids with more intelligence and with respect to their own intellect, while admirable, may be a bit too optimistic. I personally don’t believe that many kids fit the bill for being that intelligent, at least not before a certain age, and that’s provided they’ve had a good education, are willing to learn, etc.

    Anyway, I wish to close this comment by saying I like Doug and the Critic. I will continue to enjoy their videos for as long as the Critic doesn’t over-step his bounds ( 😛 ), but I also feel that some of their views may be a bit skewed.

    Keep it up Doug and know that I appreciate what you and your team do :).

    • I think you’re missing some of what he’s getting it. He DOES recognize the need for balance and the importance of content being contextualized by parents. I think he’s mostly just getting at the fact that darker content, when properly balanced, isn’t a damaging influence on children. If anything, the gradual exposure method of harsher aspects of life is far more beneficial than attempting to shelter children from it completely because then, when they are confronted with it, they have no basis or framework for understanding it and dealing with it. The kind of intelligence children have isn’t necessarily the typical intelligence you might think of, but rather a strong ability to adapt and grow with new information given to them provided they have someone there to reinforce things. While I certainly don’t think we should go out of our way to scare children or anything, that’s not what the Critic is advocating for. He’s just stating that it can be good to introduce ideas that challenge children and help them to expand their comfort zones. It’s all about moderation, and that’s something the Critic made quite clear in this video.

    • I prefer children’s writers (whatever the medium) who overestimate a child’s intelligence than those who underestimate them (under the guise of “oh but they’re too young for such and such) and end up treating them like little morons. People whine and whine that kids are idiots, then they turn around and treat them like idiots. So what do they expect?

      A child needs to feel all the emotions an adult feels. Because it is part of the human experience. Fear, sadness and even a certain amount of grief, when introduced properly and with care, is far FAR better than sheltering them and then wondering why they don’t develop healthy coping strategies later in life.

      No offense, but if I or any of my friends had lived under your “guidelines for a child’s development” we would have been BORED. Because scary things are actually challenging for a child and we need to challenge them.

      Christ even flippin’ Sesame Street (which was developed to cater to a child’s mental growth by those who studied child Psychology) knows to throw in a few scares every now and then. More so in earlier seasons but it’s still there.

    • I think one of two things has happened here. Either you severely underestimate a child’s ability to differentiate fantasy from reality or a clarification is needed on the definition of a child. When you hear child, are you thinking something like a 2 or 3 year old? Even as early as 5 years old I seriously doubt you’re going to find many children who cannot tell the difference between their father with a mask and a legitimate monster. By the time you’re 7? or 10? or 12? it would be absolutely ludicrous to think they couldn’t handle these sorts of things by then, so I have to believe you were simply thinking of the very very low end of the child spectrum. Additionally, every child is different, so of course some experimentation will be necessary to see what they can handle in terms of scares and you obviously shouldn’t just begin training at the Exorcist or something like that, but you are going to have to push the boundary sometimes beyond what is comfortable for them or else they’ll never progress. I seriously doubt any one movie is really going to scar anybody. Also, really? You’ve never seen anyone darker than Doug? You must live a particularly sheltered life. As for that last bit about challenging kids, treating kids like they’re not intelligent enough to be challenged is exactly why they’re not intelligent enough to be challenged (circular logic, I know). I think you’d be surprised just how many kids respond well to being challenged. My dad showed me Jurassic Park when I was a very small child because I begged to see it, so he thought it might be a bit fun to try and scare me a bit and he could send me to bed when it got too intense. You know what happened? I freakin loved every minute of that movie. Children aren’t meant to be sheltered, they’re meant to learn.

    • Excuse me, what do you mean about “his bounds”?

  2. These movies scared you?

    My mom used to make me watch Elvira’s Movie Macabre and tell me stories about vampire mad scientists who turn children into vampires to collect blood for them. These movies are nothing.

  3. I don’t think Doug cares about errors made in a video 2 years ago, but contrary to popular belief, the Grimm version wasn’t the first version of any of these fairytales by any means. In fact, we have plenty of evidence of these stories existing hundreds of years before the Grimm brothers wrote down their own twists on fairytales.
    There’s a version of Cinderella that’s almost identical to the Disney version, and it was first told around 100 or 200 years before the Grimm brothers wrote it down. I think this particular version was written by Perrault.
    Perrault wrote down a ton of fairytales before the Grimm brothers penned them.
    In the case of Little Red Riding Hood, it was a popular story long before the Grimm Brothers were born, and while some versions are grotesque and even involve cannibalism, others are fairly lighthearted. We don’t have an exact timeline on these- just that the story developed with various changes over several centuries, and in multiple areas.
    I’m sorry. When Doug said the Grimm version was the first, I just had to correct him.

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