Why Do Some Kids Like Creepy Stuff Online?

Published on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 in Internet

Have you heard kids talking about “the Slender Man”? They may have shown you an image of a creepy animatronic bear named Freddy, or told you about a scary story they read online.

The spooky month is as good a time as any to talk about what’s going on and whether you need to step in.

What Are Kids Seeing Online?

In short: whatever Google and their friends are pointing them to. The internet has a wealth of creepy content that goes well beyond typical horror fare like movies. Some of the most common things children may run across include:

  • Games: Examples include Five Nights at Freddy’s, Garten of Banban, and Poppy Playtime. In addition to being appealing to kids because of their interactivity, games often include creepy versions of things that children are familiar with, such as haunted animatronics and mascots.
  • YouTube channels: Examples include Local 58, Salad Fingers, and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Video uploads to horror channels are often like short or experimental horror movies.
  • Creepypastas: Examples include Slender Man, Jeff the Killer, and the Russian Sleep Experiment. Creepypastas are a bit like the campfire ghost stories of the internet, often being short tales about monsters or strange happenings.

Should Parents  Be Concerned?

As with all things, the answer to this really depends on the kid. Children liking scary stuff is nothing new, but young kids aren't necessarily as equipped to distinguish between fantasy and reality as older ones.

While not all parents will share the same opinion about what’s appropriate, it’s a good idea regardless to check in with kids to see how they’re reacting and to help them process what they’re seeing.

CommandIQ Can Help

If your kid isn’t ready for creepy stuff online, the free CommandIQ app can stop them from accessing it. Its robust suite of parental controls lets MEC fiber internet customers block certain content, apps, and websites from their kids' devices as long as they’re connected to your Wi-Fi network. Download it from your phone’s app store, and visit teammidwest.com/commandiq for more information.

You need a GigaSpire router to access the full features of CommandIQ. Visit teammidwest.com/which-router to see which router you have. If you don’t have a GigaSpire, we’ll mail you one for free.

What Else Can I Do?

However you decide to handle scary content in your household, Common Sense Media lays out some important steps to take:

Set appropriate boundaries. Even if you decide to let your kid get their feet wet with horror content, not everything is age-appropriate. Sticking to animation can help your kid realize it’s fantasy. Avoid showing them anything that puts characters their age in danger.

Be ready for bedtime. Your child might seem fine during the day, but darkness can bring scary memories to the forefront of their mind. Be ready to offer them comfort or a distraction if they’re scared to sleep.

Avoid violent content. If it does happen to come up, talk about how characters could have avoided it or solved their problem in a different way.

Mind the clock. Scary content  is probably not a good idea right before bedtime.