With the summer season in full swing, most AMC Classic theaters are offering a Summer Movie Camp program. Children can enjoy a kid-friendly movie and a KidsPack for just $4 (exclusive of tax) at participating theaters every Wednesday for the entirety of the summer season.
But herein lies many parents’ dilemma: Should they or should they not allow their children, particularly minors, to watch movies on their own?
Parenting is a challenging task as it is with parents dealing with a wide range of decisions from choosing their children’s diapers and milk to deciding on their schools. Letting their children watch movies on their own can be just as challenging as these choices for good reasons.
On one hand, many parents won’t allow their children to watch movies without an adult accompanying them due to safety and security reasons. Even when their children are with their friends, they still won’t allow their kids because there’s the risk of creeps and criminals waiting to pounce in darkened movie theaters.
Parents who don’t allow their children to watch movies on their own aren’t taking any chances, a decision that we can definitely understand. Many of them make concessions, nonetheless, such as sitting a few rows behind their children so as to keep a watchful eye on them. This way, everybody wins – the children have their personal space and the parents still keep an eye on them.
On the other hand, many parents roll their eyes at such parental decision, especially when it comes to their 10, 11 and 12 year old children. Take, for example, the parents and advocates of the Free Range Kid Movement who believe that children should be allowed to exercise their independence, make their own decisions, and look out for themselves – within limits, of course.
For example, parents educate their children about ways to handle themselves in potentially dangerous situations inside a movie theater, such as calling the attention of others. Many also equip their children with cellphones with their parents’ numbers on speed dial, just in case.
There are also opinions about the irresponsible behavior of some parents who won’t allow their kids to watch a kid-friendly movie on their own, but these same parents will take them to a film with a content or theme unsuitable for their age. Yes, it doesn’t make sense at all.
Ultimately, the parents have to make the decision whether to let their kids watch movies on their own or not. Many factors have to be considered before making the decision, such as the age of the children, the type of movie, and the safety and security policies of the theater.
For example, an 8-year old child shouldn’t be allowed to watch a movie on his own but he can have the privilege when he’s 10 years old; at this age, he can make right-and-wrong decisions as well as take instructions regarding his safety.
Here are a few more important safety tips that parents can take before allowing their kids to watch movies without an adult accompanying them.
- Choose the matinee hours. Matinees are more affordable, ticket-wise, and there’s less likely to be a crowd so children will have a better idea of the people around them. Yes, it doesn’t mean that your kids are completely safe – there’s no such thing even when you’re with them – but it lessens the risk.
- Look for the exits. If possible, you can accompany your kids to the theater and point out the exits to them. You want to ensure that, at the very least, they know where to go in case of an emergency. You may also want to instruct them to choose seats that are nearer to these exits.
Tip: Look for hiding places and point them out to your children. With more than a few shooting incidents in theaters, it pays to be vigilant about these things.
- Tell your children to immediately report anyone suspicious to the theater management, such as the ushers and servers. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, not to mention that theater management is just as concerned as their customers about safety and security in their establishments.
- Instruct your children to notify you before going into a theater on their own. Tell them that it isn’t about you exerting control over their activities but, more importantly, keeping tabs on your whereabouts so you can respond to emergencies promptly.
- Let them use their cellphones. Of course, it’s important to put it on vibrate mode so as not to disturb other people, as well as to immediately notify them of incoming calls from you. If necessary, ask them to download one or two safety apps for good measure.
These safety precautions may border on the paranoid but when it comes to your kids’ safety, you shouldn’t be taking more chances than necessary. But you shouldn’t keep them glued to the television monitor either because at some point, you have to let them go and watch movies on their own.