Still have questions?

Join Common Sense Media Plus for timely advice from a community of parents like you.

Join now

Back to topic overview

Violence in Media

At what age can my teen watch horror movies?

Pushing boundaries is a huge part of the movie-going experience for teens, but a lot of what's marketed to them -- for example, psychologically disturbing movies such as the V/H/S series -- are too mature. Guide teens toward age-appropriate thrillers and horror flicks or old-school classics (such as Hitchcock films). Follow these guidelines for when your teen wants to see horror movies.

Young teens:

They may be ready to be scared silly. In general, skeletons, monsters, and aliens are OK. Even so, stick to movies that have humor mixed in or those with safe-and-sound endings. Be mindful of blood and gore.

… Or not. Some teens still scare easily. Let your kids know it's OK to be scared and to tell their friends they'd rather watch something else.

Older teens:

They may be ready for more than you think. Developmentally, teens can handle dramatic and psychological suspense, but kids under 16 still shouldn't see slasher horrors, especially those that feature kids in dire danger or that have lots of gore.

Mind the messages. Many scary movies now pair horrific graphic violence with sexual situations -- not a great combination for kids exploring newfound sexuality. Be sure to talk with them about the content of the movie they're seeing and the messages it may convey. Check Common Sense Media's reviews for conversation starters.

Dig into the vault. If you like scary movies too, try introducing your teens to some of the horror and suspense classics. Just make sure any younger siblings are already tucked in bed.

Was this answer helpful?
Sign in or sign up to share your thoughts


Teen, 13 years old written by StarViolin265

Even if you do want to wait until introducing them to horror movies, they have most likey already seen horror on social media platforms. Young teens are more ready than you think for really anything. Late teen years (15-18) is late
Teen, 13 years old written by BananaGoat

A lot (most) of kids at my school (11-14 yr olds) watch R rated horror movies. Just let your kid experiment around with watching different levels of movies and if they’re fine with R rated horror movies, let them watch them. If they get scared by a PG horror movie, then don’t let them watch R rated horror films. It’s as simple as that. When they are experimenting with the different levels, don’t take them to a movie theater. Let them watch the films at home so you can stop the film whenever and let them watch something light hearted right after if they get worked up or afraid.
Kid, 12 years old

it depends on if ur kid is mature or not. im 12 and i love horror movies and dont get scared ever.
Kid, 11 years old

This depends on maturity and age. If it was saw, I'd say 17+ on average, but if they can handle it, 16. Examine your child's behaviour and think about that and their age.
Teen, 13 years old written by garnol

It depends on what movie you're talking about, and what maturity level your child is at.
Teen, 15 years old written by lindsaygreys

I mean I personally have never understood the appeal of horror movies. Violence doesn’t phase me at all but horror movies are just weird to me... like y’all enjoy watching kids being terrorized by a clown?? I guess they should be able to watch them around 13 years old but at 15 I still get scared during the previews so...
Kid, 11 years old

I really think they should not have only one model for each age. say, I once watched a horror movie that I just enjoyed and was not even remotely disturbed by it, ( I have watched hundreds of horror movies) and I looked at a parent review for that movie and they said this: "Horrible, just horrible! if you want your child to keep its innocence say no. while it may"think"that it wants to watch this, stay firm! they WILL have nightmares, and be traumatized!" oh come on. by the way that was a review for "alien". great movie. kids dont have the same maturity. by the way, safe and sound endings are just boring.
Teen, 14 years old written by Coolpool785

You see, you say that psychological horror is OK for teens under the age 16, but all psychological horror movies I find on here say ages 17-18+, and we "young teens" as you call us, find the alien and monster movies stupid and childish at times compared too all other horror movies there are. Sure, some of the creature-features are good like Jaws, Tremors, Alien, etc. are good, but we sometimes prefer the more, how you say, mature horror movie (and 'mature' does not mean sexual in my case). I'm 14, and I've seen Jaws films 1-4, Tremors, Alien films 1-4, Friday the 13th films 1-4, A Nightmare on Elms Street, Wes Cravens New Nightmare, The Shinning, The Blair Witch Project, Blair Witch, Predator, Anaconda: search for the Blood Orchid, all the Sharknado films (just for laughs), Deep Blue Sea (also for laughs) and I saw IT (2017) for my birthday (which is one of the best), and a LOT more, but those are the ones I can think of right now. So please, next time a horror movie comes out, could you account for how people my age in THIS generation can handle a LOT more stuff than you guys think and not give it an 18+ unless it really does deserve it. I do not mean to criticize in any way. Just letting you know.
Teen, 14 years old written by horrorfan123

Well it really depends if you like horror movies or if they scare you like i loved horror movies and watched nightmare on elm street when i was 7 it depends i would say the average age is 9
Teen, 16 years old written by Sean 16

I'm 16 nearly 17 and watched the Alien films at 14 and were rated 18 I think most of these films are over rated they are not scary at all. I have watched Alien, Saw, Blair Witch, The Women in Black, IT etc. and non of them are too scary.
Kid, 10 years old

I've never watch a horror movie, I don't think I'm allowed to. but I would like to note that about the whole thing about alien movies that are horror being suitable for younger teens is misleading. here's why, csm doesn't approve of the alien series. thanks for reading!
Teen, 14 years old written by Killermemestar

Sorry but most teens, like myself--especially edge lords--would find the skeleton and alien movies childish, and yes that includes "younger" teens. I'm 14(very close to 15) and have seen all three Human Centipede(not scary at all, but gory) movies, Saw(same thing), Insidious, Unfriended(pretty bad), Alfred Hitchcock movies(these are lit), The Voices(schizophrenic-centered movies are my favorite), and a few others I cannot think of at the top of my head. I've also seen violent cartoons and anime, and read JtHM and Squee, my favorite comics(a must read for Jhonen Vasquez fans and Invader Zim diehards!), and countless Creepypastas. The only exception to the skeleton/alien things is Tim Burton classics, such as Coraline(a disturbing movie but probably one of the best)! Sorry, but this is entertainment, and it is art. Artistic teens with an interest in gore and creepy things contribute to nothing of this in the real world. Art is not something to be censored. Especially from artistic teens who are nearing adulthood and have a passion for creepy things.
Teen, 13 years old written by RandomBoi2004

They could see Insidious and The Ring with parental permisson but some movies for adults alike have vuglar swearing like The Exorcist could be suitable for older teens 17+
Teen, 13 years old written by Batorama101

I think letting kids choose what they want to see, in terms of movies is great. Say they want to see Pulp Fiction for example, well even if you think its not appropriate for teens doesn't mean they will think that. If you tell them they cant see it that'll just make them want to see it more. Out of rejection comes Obsession. Let them see the movie then if they end up hating it or loving it at least they know what they can handle. This will probably affect their future decisions in movies. Like if you hate gory movies your not going to watch the texas chainsaw massacre. Letting them experiment with the types of movies they like is great for development as a person and possibly even a future filmmaker......
Teen, 14 years old written by lily.blake

I personally don't think that the age matter. Some people can handle more things than others while still being at the same age. It just depends if you like scary movies and are not scared by them as much as the regular person that age. This being said, I don't think age matter
Kid, 12 years old

I am 12 years old and I like horror movies but some of them can be a little to much. I went to go see The Boy with some friends and it was scary but not to much, there was not much blood and gore in the movie. I liked the movie but I would make sure that your kids are at least 11 and up. Unlike the movie Dark Skies which had sexual activity and some gore, it was not appropriate and I regret watching it.
Teen, 13 years old written by LenaBean

This is a situation where it really depends on what kind of person you are, for example I am 13 years old and I love all horror movies. I really like scary movies from "Saw" to "The Purge". In my mind it all depends on what you can handle and if you like scary/horror films in the first place.
Teen, 15 years old written by MrRaz0r21

I'm 15 and to be honest, i don't like horror movies at all and DEFINITELY the ones with gore. Last year i was reading up on some gory movies, didn't watch them, but reading the plot was enough for me, and ever since then i never ever want to watch a horror movie again. Look, ask your kid what he's scared of. Personally horror films that jump scare should be fine, but films that contain blood, gore, torture and violence should be steered cleared of. I don't even understand how adults can watch those sort of violent movies, they're not even horror, it's just, disgusting. Anyway, to sum up, jump scare movies, psychological movies, may or may not be ok for him, But definitely stay clear of gory horror movies.
Teen, 15 years old written by lindsaygreys

Tbh I’m the opposite... I can’t STAND jump scares because I get stressed out really easily, but gory stuff doesn’t really affect me at all.
Teen, 15 years old written by Mavrah333

Horror is diverse. OK, I've only seen 4 horror films (Alien, The Woman in Black, The Others, and Predator 2). But let's see. Horror is hard to group. In fact, we have four very different films here, and TWIB and The Others is fine for most tweens and all teens. Alien is slightly more extreme, but only through language. Predator 2 plays as an action movie until the last act, but even that isn't terrifying. However, the latter is probably the most extreme. Horror isn't a genre in which they're all the same. Even the same stories can be diverse (Most tweens could easily play Portal, but are they ready for the linked Half Life?).
Teen, 14 years old written by eazy__breezy

To say that things like aliens, skeletons and stuff like that is "OK" for young teens is stupid. Except for the Alien trilogy and the thing, those types of movies are meant for little kids and I wouldn't consider many of them horror movies. If anything young teens will find them stupid and kidish. A good starter horror movie for younger teens is the ring or the grudge. Those are truly scary. I'm almost 15, gonna be this June, and idk if that counts as a "young teen" but for saying someone my age needs humor mixed in with all his horror films is ridiculous
Teen, 13 years old written by OliRan321

It really depends on what type of horror movie your talking about. I think that for some ages there are types of horror movies where they should just wait a bit before viewing them. It also depends on the maturity of the person you are talking about. I have watched the horror movie Anabelle and honestly wish I hadn't. However I know some of my friends who thoroughly enjoy horror movies and aren't scared by them in the slightest.