Why do adults often appreciate children's films

Horror Movies: Adults are more scared than teenagers

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Vienna - "Been to the cinema. Wept", wrote Franz Kafka in his diary after an evening in the cinema. After all, films can have a much deeper effect on people than just distracting them from everyday life for a while. Therefore, the question arises what films do to those whose development has not yet been completed - children and young people.

In general, adults like to doubt whether the medium of film has a good influence on the next generation. The book often has a higher value in education. Movies, on the other hand, are usually suspected of spoiling the young character and not contributing to education. At the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the University of Vienna, you see things a little differently.

"The youth media protection department usually asks what impairments the reception of a film has for young people. We ask: To what extent do cinema films help young people to cope with everyday problems and solve identity conflicts?", Says Jürgen Grimm, who on this topic in Germany has carried out an extensive investigation.

The study was carried out in cooperation with the Family Ministry of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and the leading German film testing agency, the Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK), at its headquarters in Wiesbaden. The study was carried out in Vienna and its results were evaluated.

In what, according to Grimm, is the largest study of this kind in Europe to date, 400 male and female young people of different educational levels were surveyed - 40 percent had a migration background. The detailed interviews were carried out before and after the adolescents had seen contemporary films - for example the first part of the science fiction series The Hunger Games or the neo-Nazi drama Warrior. Successful films were selected for the study among young people that address topics relevant to the formation of identity at this age and are attractive enough for young people to ensure a committed reception.

Confirmation for cineastes

"The new thing about our approach is the use of entire films," says Grimm. Normally, individual excerpts, such as depictions of violence, have so far been used in media impact research. "Therefore, our results are more comprehensive and complex than is usually the case with such studies."

Film buffs can feel confirmed by the outcome of the study: after all, the film reception showed on average mainly positive effects with regard to the identity formation of the young people.

For most of the respondents, national identification expanded in a cosmopolitan direction. Rigid notions of gender roles have also been softened: for the majority of pubescent boys, the idea of ​​a strong woman was far less absurd after she starred in Jennifer Lawrence as the tough Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games had seen.

That surprised him in terms of the extent of the effect, says Grimm: "On the one hand, our results have proven the findings of recent youth studies. We did not expect that the boys in particular would be so impressed by the images of women shown here. "

At the end of the day, however, this can be easily explained: when it comes to film reception for young people, it's mainly about trying out identities in a playful way. Their identity is already pre-shaped by the real circumstances in the family and their wider environment.

"Adolescents generally orientate themselves towards others of the same sex. The cinema reception also enables an expansion of this range of identity possibilities in this respect," says Grimm.

In any case, according to the Viennese media scientist, the ability of young people to reflect critically on what they have seen is underestimated. For example, many adults have the idea that films often frighten children.

In another study that Grimm and his colleagues carried out, however, it turned out that it was exactly the opposite: adults reacted to horror films with much more fear than young people did.

Reality and representation

The adolescents had already built up appropriate media skills and were therefore able to distance themselves more easily from what was happening on the screen. Adults who weren't properly socialized had a much harder time not shuddering from splatter movies and other things.

Grimm points out that this is an evolutionary process. When the Lumière brothers showed a picture of an arriving train in Paris in 1895, spectators left the show in panic. Today every child can distinguish between reality and media representation very early on.

In principle, however, the results of the study do not mean that parents can now calmly leave their upbringing to the various media, as Grimm, who has been active in youth protection for 25 years, emphasizes. Parents who are currently concerned about whether they should put sensible media content under the Christmas tree for their children or attend beneficial Christmas performances with their offspring can reassure the communications researcher by referring to the appropriate age recommendations.

After all, these are not arbitrary, but are determined by appropriate experts. However, he warns not to rely exclusively on it, but to deal with the content yourself in advance: "You cannot guarantee the protection of minors through state controls and corresponding bans," says Grimm.

Nowadays there are too many channels of distribution that cannot be regulated through the Internet alone. Parents cannot avoid paying attention to what the children are playing, reading and watching. (Johannes Lau, DER STANDARD, December 17, 2014)