(WKBN) – It’s that time of year when parents have to decide whether Halloween is going to include pumpkins and princesses or ghouls and goblins — or a combination of both.
The age of your child plays a big part in how Halloween is celebrated, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Watching scary movies is a popular pastime this time of year. The storylines and special effects have gotten very sophisticated, blurring what looks very real and what is fantasy. Can your child tell the difference? That’s a question the AAP says you need to be aware of when letting your child settle in for a thriller.
The experts say that “gentle thrills” can let your child explore fears in a safe environment, but other movies can go beyond that and be violent. Movies that contain violence or adult content can have harmful effects on young viewers’ mental health, the academy said.
Movie ratings are a good guideline, but they are not the only thing to consider. They can give parents a general idea of whether a movie is age-appropriate, but they don’t address specific content. For more information, parents can check Common Sense Media for more insight into the content and storyline of a film.
Another good thing is to watch scary movies with your child. That way, you can talk about any issues that might come up, and you can turn it off.
Also, keep in mind that every child is different. One child may be OK with scary content another may not. Consider that in a group setting or party atmosphere. The AAP says that many adults don’t enjoy scary movies, and it is not a “rite of passage.”
When it comes to costumes and trick-or-treating, safety is the priority. AAP officers these tips:
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- Make sure that shoes fit well, and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, getting caught on objects or coming into contact with firepits.
- Look for “flame resistant” on the costume labels. Wigs and accessories should also clearly indicate this.
- Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over the eyes and blocking vision.
- Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives to masks. Test makeup ahead of time on a small patch of your child’s skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises or allergic reactions on the big day. Toxic ingredients have been found in cosmetics marketed to teens and tweens.
- Avoid any sharp or long swords, canes or sticks as a costume accessory. Your child can easily be hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye exam and a prescription from an eye care professional. While packaging for decorative lenses may claim “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous and illegal. It can cause serious eye problems that can lead to permanent vision loss.
AAP also says if you have a teen driver who plans on being out during trick or treating, make sure they are aware of the extra pedestrians they could encounter and consider the Parent-Teen driving agreement.