Barbara, can you weigh in on "The Hunger Games" movie? I'm one of those parents with a 10-year-old who is as determined as the ones in the Page 1 story in the Globe today and I'm the mother who's opposed. I know you've written about this in the past and I'd really value your opinion.
From: Tina, Wakefield, MA
Here's the page 1 story from Wednesday's Globe that Tina's talking about. In the accompanying boston.com poll question -- "Will you let your elementary school-aged child(ren) watch the movie "The Hunger Games"? -- as of this writing (updated, 7 pm Thurs, 34% say they won't let their kids watch it, but another 33% say they will, if the child has read the books.
I agree with Common Sense Media which points out in its review, that there's a big difference between reading a book and seeing a movie, especially for a preteen or young teen. Funny, Michael Rich of the Media Center at Children's Hospital makes the same point. This seems like an obvious point -- we know that -- but I think the reminders are helpful.
Children under 13 are not developmentally capable of handling the scenes (not to mention the themes) this move presents, including fighting one another to the death. Having that in one's imagination is not nearly as vivid or frightening -- or real -- as seeing it unfold on the screen. So to all of you who think your child will be OK to see the movie if she/he has read the book, I say: rethink. In fact, more to the point: do you even know the story line? Do you know it's set in post-apocalyptic America? The concept of that alone is enough to frighten some children.
. To parents like you, Tina, whose child is intent on wearing down, stick to your position: "Sorry, honey, this movie is not appropriate for you." If you're a parent who feels you owe your child an explanation, try this one: "I'm the parent and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions. I can live with it if you're not happy with me."
By the way, here's what will make this easier: Talk to the parents of your children's friends, even the ones you don't know very well, and see if you can't agree to all stand together on the not-viewing side. That makes it pretty darn difficult for your child to mount the "but John's mom is letting him see it" argument. "You know what? I talked to John's mom. She's not letting him see it, either."
Are there exceptions? Are there some preteens/tweens for whom this movie might be OK? Sure, there might be. You know your child best. Still, the nightmare potential from this would make me want to err on the cautious side.
The movie opens today. In colleague Ty Burr's review, he writes,
"...The violence is not overly graphic, but leave the little ones at home. Scenes of carnage visited upon the weak and unlucky by stronger gamers ... are harrowing."