Scary media content can really affect children

With the rise in violence generally, there has been a continued call to crack down on violent video games and television. However, the Media watchdog seems to be missing breaches of the Codes.

The Australian Ad Standards Panel recently received complaints about scary advertisements for two horror movies that were shown during family viewing times. The complaints were mainly concerned with the level of violence and scariness depicted in the ads and whether they were appropriate for children.

In the case of The Pope’s Exorcist, the Panel found that the ad was suspenseful but not overly graphic or violent and therefore did not breach any advertising standards. However, a trailer for the same movie shown during a sports program on PayTV was found to have breached certain codes due to scenes of implied suicide.

Similarly, an advertisement for Scream 6 shown during a sports program was found to be suspenseful and frightening but not excessively violent in the context of an advertisement for a horror movie aimed at adults.

These complaints highlight the importance of parents being aware of the content of advertisements and the ratings of movies before allowing their children to view them. While the National Classification Scheme provides guidelines for the rating of movies and TV shows, it may not always be enough to determine the level of scariness and suitability for certain age groups. Therefore, parents should use their discretion and consider the context and content of ads before allowing their children to view them.

Parents are encouraged to put complaints in writing to Ad Standards, which administers a national system of advertising self-regulation.

For more details, refer to The Children and Media Australia website.