Children under the age of 7 should never ever watch a live action movie. Perhaps the exception to this is a terribly old technicolor film like The Wizard of Oz but really they ought to be avoided entirely and here is why.
Your child cannot yet cognitively understand that it is not real.
Yes yes I know your child is smart and of course they know it isn’t real and I’m an idiot.
But hear me out….
Your child, if you’ve done your job right so far, lives in a world that dips between reality and fantasy. They believe in magic and Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. This fantasy world is largely in their mind, in their imagination.
The magic of cinema.
Ever heard that before?
Movie making magic.
Ring a bell?
For a child under the age of 7, before the change of teeth, before they are fully grounded into their body the only separation between this world and their imaginative one is the mind’s eye. Everything they can see is real.
Everything they can’t is magic.
A stuffed animal isn’t real.
But is a stuffed (taxidermy) animal real?
Stand in front of one with a group of 4 year olds and watch them ponder the question.
A live action movie is real to a child under 7.
It is real life.
You’ve got to see it to believe it.
They will go well into their teen years with a fuzzy unclear line between what is real and what is fantasy and it will have a deep impact on their soul.
Because our lives are not like the movies.
They are not filled with action and adventure like in the Marvel universe.
We are perfectly presentable and pretty at all times like in Disney live action.
We will have given them a bar to which they will never be able to measure up and their striving will be buried in their subconscious where they won’t be able to access it for years, decades even.
Their discontentment will be visible though.
When you blur the line between reality and fantasy for your child before they can choose to step over it themselves you rob them of the opportunity to enjoy the magic of cinema. They think it happened, in real life.
On top of that we destroy the imagination.
When we hand children toys and movies that require no creativity or imagination to be involved in bringing the story to life we deprive them of the opportunity to develop their own vision. We silence the mind’s eye.
Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE movies as much as the average person.
But I have and will continue to wait to show my child movies that are beyond his emotional and cognitive developmental level.
Does this mean my child can’t relate to the boys on his sports teams? Yup, it sure does.
It means his childhood will feel longer and be full of more magic.
It also means he is more likely to grow up to be an empathetic and caring human being.
And I think the world could use a few more of those.