How do you tell if your kid is ready for the hand-chopping Empire Strikes Back?Read the whole thing. The experts' advice falls all over the proverbial map, from being practical ("When in doubt, it's better to wait" and "watch it with your kid") to suspect ("One general rule: eight is the turning point") to entirely unhelpful ("Tons of shows and movies aimed at kids are dark and violent anyway"). It surprises me, though, that none of the experts advocated sitting children down for some careful analysis of what they've watched. During my college days, one English professor loved to fling around Wordsworth's flammable phrase "we murder to dissect" as a rebuke to those more given to explicating literature than experiencing it. And perhaps analysis sometimes does destroy the pathos of a work. But it can also provide both understanding and emotional insulation for sensitive little minds.
Not to mention a bunch of other genre classics that are for almost all ages, like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Or some recent superhero films. There are a bunch of movies, TV shows and graphic novels that are maybe just a little too scary, violent or sexy for little kids. And there's no exact rule of thumb for how old a kid needs to be before they're ready to watch some dark, scary material.
So we asked some experts, and here's what they told us.
(Picture: CC 2008 by sean dreilinger)