A Parent's Guide to Apps with Horror/Fear Themes

Horror fear themes
  1. Is Your Child Old Enough for Horror/Fear Themes in Mobile Apps?
    • Starting at about age nine, it starts to become ok for most kids to use apps that have a little bit of these themes in them, along with infrequent instances of realistic violence and/or mature or suggestive themes. Of course, you not all children are the same, and so you should definitely keep an eye on how frequent or how intense a horror or fear theme should be for yours. So how can you protect your child from nightmares or even lasting trauma from early exposure to scary content, images, and/or videos in mobile apps?
    • First of all, you should definitely take into account the app’s rating and description. If you have any questions about an app your child has or wants, look it up in our free directory, and you'll get an easy to read summary of what's really in it, including horror and fear themed content. This is our recommended approach for reviewing apps, especially for younger children. Look them up BEFORE your children get them, and you can pre-empt those nightmares that we all want our children to avoid.
    • You might find that it's an app that has very minor amounts of disturbing content, or something that's not only heavily horror-themed but that has a lot of really disturbing content. This might not be appropriate for your child until they’re much older and less susceptible to horrific imagery. So how do you talk to your child about restricting their access to horror-themed apps?
  2. Talk to Them About Their Reactions to Horror Movies and Ghost Stories
    • First of all, your child might want to download a horror-themed game app because all their friends are playing it. However, you know that this kind of content gives them nightmares and makes them afraid to go to sleep at night. You know it’s going to be a real-life nightmare if they start playing this game, so what do you do?
    • Instead of just saying, “No, you can’t have that,” talk to your child about how they feel when they watch horror movies or when they hear really scary ghost stories. This line of reasoning specifically works well on younger kids, who think that they’ll want to play horror/fear-themed games but who, in actuality, will be too disturbed by them to really enjoy them.
  3. Why Are the Themes Disturbing?
    • Now, what if your child is old enough to handle horror movies and other content with horror/fear themes, but you’re still not feeling comfortable about this app? Think about what makes you uncomfortable and why the themes portrayed in the app are disturbing to you. This will give you a better idea of whether the content really is inappropriate for your child or not. Then you can talk with your child about why it’s inappropriate for them (or for anyone, especially if it’s intensely horrific).
    • In this conversation, don't be afraid to ask your child what interests them about the app, why they want to download it, and/or what they want to use it for. If you have a teen with a growing interest in classic horror films, you might want to let them download an app that’s dedicated to bringing together fans of Bela Lugosi and Ernest Borgnine. On the other hand, if you have a six-year-old who doesn’t quite grasp that Hollywood “magic” isn’t real yet, then you should definitely restrict them from using any kind of horror-themed app.
    • You may also feel that the themes portrayed in a particular app are inappropriate for anyone at any age, whether for religious or moral reasons. Talk to your child about why you believe this and why you want to raise them to avoid this kind of content and imagery. If horror/fear-themed content is offensive to you, there’s no reason that you have to let your child download an app that’s dedicated to it.
    • Be honest with your kids when you talk to them about the risks associated with horror/fear themes in mobile apps. In most cases, restrictions are going to be age-based, but some apps are more horrifying and/or offensive than others. Find out why the app your child is interested in is rated as it is, and then find out why it may or may not be appropriate at SaferKid. With that information, you should be able to make the right decision to protect your child.