BOSTON (CBS) – Happy “Hunger Games.” The highly anticipated movie opened one minute after midnight this morning at theaters across the country. The film is based on a trilogy of books, however the film and books have a violent premise. Children are forced to fight to the death, to entertain the masses. Should you let your kids see it, or will the violence be too much to handle?
The Hunger Games story is told through the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen who is chosen to be one of the young combatants. “The kids are too young to be seeing stuff like that,” one mother of a pre-teen told us.
But what’s the big deal? After all tons of kids have already read the books. “Reading the book is not the same as watching the movie,” says Dr. Michael Rich who is the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston. “When you go to a movie it’s a much more visceral and direct experience. You are seeing someone else’s imagination, you are hearing someone else’s imagination,” says Rich.
Since parents know their kids best, Dr. Rich suggests talking to them about the movie ahead of time and consider seeing it yourself. “And help him or her process it afterward and talk it through. Because these are big ideas and strange experiences for them and no matter how tough they act, they may not be prepared to handle it,” says Rich.
He also says the PG-13 rating is a relative thing. “In Great Britain they had to change the movie to get the equivalent rating to PG-13,” he says. And if you think your child won’t be able to handle the movie, you can always say no. One mom told us, “I just think there are a lot of other good movies out there to be seen so we don’t have to see one where kids want to fight each other to the death.”
A movie version of the second book in the series is already in the works.
Dr. Michael Rich has a website where he answers parents’ questions on how various forms of media influence children. You can see that at: askthemediatrician.org