seal  Purdue News

June 12, 2003

Big-screen fear coming too soon for kids

The new digital, cartoonish Incredible Hulk in this summer's anticipated blockbuster might be more scary for some children than their parents realize, says Glenn Sparks, a Purdue University media expert.

"Young children have difficulty comprehending visual transformations, and even though the Hulk may retain his good intentions when he turns into a monster, children under the age of 6 may not be able to understand this very well," says Sparks, who studied the 1980s "Incredible Hulk" television series. "Children under the age of 6 rely on physical appearance to guide their reactions, and the younger the child, the more likely they will be affected by the menacing appearance of characters on the movie screen."

Young children who are scared may feel anxious or suffer sleep disturbances, says Sparks, who studies how frightening films affect children.

"Parents should be cautious and aware that movies may be marketed at younger ages than appropriate," he says. "Even though they make action figures for a young child, the movie might be too scary."

CONTACT: Sparks, (765) 494-3316,