The Impact of Horror Movies on Children: Analyzing Stephen King's Perspective

Categories: Stephen King

Horror movies have been a subject of fascination and controversy, especially when it comes to their impact on children.
In Stephen King's essay, "My Creature from the Black Lagoon," he delves into the intriguing realm of horror and its
effects on young audiences. However, the essay's shortcomings are apparent, with a lack of scientific backing for
King's assertions, a disjointed structure, and challenging language use. This essay aims to provide a comprehensive
analysis, addressing the absence of a clear thesis, the complexity of King's writing style, and the importance of
research and sources in scholarly discourse.

Thesis Statement: Unraveling the Complexity of Horror's Impact on Children

A fundamental flaw in King's essay lies in the absence of a clear thesis statement in the introduction, a key component
of scholarly writing. While a statement resembling a thesis appears later in the essay, it is imperative for an
effective essay to present its main argument succinctly at the outset. A well-crafted thesis not only acts as a
roadmap for the reader but also helps the writer maintain focus and clarity throughout the essay.

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In this instance,
King's delayed and ambiguous thesis contributes to the overall confusion and lack of coherence in the narrative.

To understand the significance of King's argument, it is crucial to explore the context in which he presents his ideas.
King reflects on the paradox that children, who are physically weak, seem to bear the weight of disbelief associated
with horror effortlessly. This paradox becomes the crux of his narrative, exploring the psychological resilience of
children in the face of fear.

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Body Paragraph 1: The Challenge of King's Writing Style

King's writing style poses a significant barrier to reader comprehension. His use of specific terms and jargon assumes
a level of familiarity that may not be universal among readers. For instance, King mentions, "My mother and Milt were
talking, perhaps passing a Kool back and forth" (583), leaving readers unaware that "Kool" refers to a brand of
menthol cigarettes. This kind of language choice creates a divide between the author and the audience, hindering
effective communication.

Furthermore, King introduces the term "Doppler effect" without providing a clear explanation, assuming readers possess
prior knowledge. Effective communication in scholarly writing demands clarity, accessibility, and an awareness of the
diverse audience. King's failure to cater to a broader readership compromises the potential impact of his essay.

One might argue that King's use of intricate language serves a specific purpose, adding an element of sophistication to
his narrative. However, in the context of a scholarly essay, clarity and accessibility are paramount. Without a shared
understanding of terminology, readers are left grappling with the meaning behind King's words, detracting from the
overall effectiveness of his argument.

Body Paragraph 2: The Importance of Research and Sources

King's essay lacks the essential foundation of research and sources, a cornerstone of scholarly discourse. While he
expresses an opinion on children being the perfect audience for horror, he fails to substantiate his claim with
empirical evidence or authoritative sources. In contrast, a study conducted by Harrison and Cantor at the University
of Wisconsin reveals alarming effects of horror movies on children.

Their research indicates disturbances such as increased anxiety, sleep and eating disturbances, and lingering
psychological effects lasting even a year after viewing. King's failure to incorporate such studies weakens the
credibility of his argument and raises concerns about the potential real-world consequences of his influential

Expanding on the importance of research, it is essential to recognize the broader implications of exposing children to
horror. The developing nervous system of children makes them susceptible to lasting impacts from intense
psychological stimuli. This perspective challenges King's assertion that children, despite their physical weakness,
can easily navigate the realm of horror without lasting effects.

Harrison and Cantor's study, conducted with 150 college students, provides a robust foundation for the argument against
exposing children to horror at a young age. The reported disturbances after watching horror movies underscore the
potential harm, ranging from immediate disturbances in sleep and eating patterns to persistent anxiety and obsessive
thoughts about frightening situations.

Body Paragraph 3: The Need for Coherence and Focus

The lack of coherence and focus in King's essay stems from its disorganized structure, shifting from personal
narrative to opinion without a seamless transition. A well-structured essay should maintain consistency, allowing
readers to follow the author's line of thought. King's inclusion of irrelevant details, such as names of his mother's
boyfriends and specific brands, detracts from the central theme of horror's impact on children.

Streamlining the narrative and incorporating pertinent details into the introduction would enhance the overall clarity
and effectiveness of King's argument. While personal anecdotes can add a human touch to an essay, they should serve
the overarching argument rather than diverting attention from the main theme.

Moreover, a coherent essay should progress logically, guiding the reader through a well-defined path of exploration.
King's abrupt shifts from personal storytelling to broader opinions create a disjointed reading experience, hindering
the audience's ability to engage fully with the central argument.

Additional Insights on the Psychological Impact of Horror on Children

Delving deeper into the psychological aspects, it is crucial to consider how horror movies may affect the cognitive
development of children. Research in developmental psychology suggests that exposure to intense fear-inducing stimuli
can influence emotional regulation and coping mechanisms in young individuals.

Children, with their developing brains, might struggle to differentiate between fiction and reality when exposed to
horrifying images on screen. This blurring of boundaries can lead to heightened anxiety, nightmares, and a distorted
perception of the world. While King emphasizes the resilience of children, it is essential to acknowledge the
potential long-term consequences that extend beyond immediate disturbances.

Additionally, the role of parental guidance cannot be overlooked in this discourse. Parents play a crucial role in
shaping a child's media consumption habits and providing a safe environment for healthy development. King's
narrative, although captivating, lacks a comprehensive exploration of the parental responsibility aspect, leaving a
significant gap in the discussion.

As we consider the psychological impact, it is pertinent to note that individual differences among children contribute
to varying responses to horror content. Factors such as temperament, previous experiences, and familial support
systems all play a role in shaping how a child processes and internalizes frightening stimuli. Therefore, a nuanced
approach is necessary when discussing the effects of horror movies on children, recognizing the diversity of
individual experiences.


In conclusion, Stephen King's "My Creature from the Black Lagoon" presents an engaging narrative but falls short of
meeting the standards of a well-crafted scholarly essay. The absence of a clear thesis in the introduction, coupled
with the complexity of King's writing style and the lack of research and sources, diminishes the essay's overall

To elevate the essay to academic excellence, King should consider reorganizing the structure, incorporating a concise
thesis statement in the introduction, simplifying language for broader accessibility, and supporting his arguments
with well-researched evidence. Only through these adjustments can King's narrative effectively contribute to the
ongoing discourse on the impact of horror movies on children.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023
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The Impact of Horror Movies on Children: Analyzing Stephen King's Perspective. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved from

The Impact of Horror Movies on Children: Analyzing Stephen King's Perspective essay
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