What is your child watching?

Century Cinema at Kigali City Towers (KCT) is a new experience in Kigali. One can understand why the place sometimes gets crowded with people of all ages. Whereas the cinema screens movies suitable for children, the rate at which these children are watching seemingly unfit movies is alarming.
Adults should be more responsible with children where inappropriate movies are concerned.  Net photo
Adults should be more responsible with children where inappropriate movies are concerned. Net photo

Century Cinema at Kigali City Towers (KCT) is a new experience in Kigali. One can understand why the place sometimes gets crowded with people of all ages. Whereas the cinema screens movies suitable for children, the rate at which these children are watching seemingly unfit movies is alarming.

After work, I decided to go to the cinema to catch a movie at 6:00pm. As I made my way into the hall, I was shocked to see children being handed 3D glasses and rushing in. These children were between the ages of 8 – 13. Some children walked in with their parents and it didn’t seem like the parents were bothered. Other children were simply dropped off – left to watch whatever they wanted till it was time to pick them up.

Most of the movies screened have sexual content, violence and bad language, and this is not suitable for children.  Some of the movies’ ratings are as follows; Man of Steel (the one I went to watch) is PG-13, The Lone Ranger is PG-13 and The Heat is Rated R. Turbo was the only one rated G (for all), after Monsters University.

How do these children go to the cinema alone?

Peter* is an 11-year-old child studying at Green Hills Academy. From the way he answered the questions that came his way, I could tell he is quite ‘sharp’. Dressed in checquered shirt and shorts, Peter told me that he was alone and that he always comes to the cinema by himself.

“I come with my mum but she goes to Bourbon for coffee and to use the internet as I watch a movie. We usually come in the afternoon but since I had school today, we came late,” he said.

What do the parents say?

54-year-old Harriet Ingabire is a mother of four, two girls and two boys. When asked about her take on children being unsupervised at the movies, she let out a cry and asked what the problem with parents of this era is.

With a cloth over her head and the same coloured cloth wrapped around her waist, Ingabire talked of how Rwandan parents are blindly embracing the western culture.

“It is a shame to hear that some parents subject their children to such violence and nudity at such a tender age. That is lack of care and poor parenting,” she said with anger as her palm slapped her thigh in protest.

“Though these acts don’t only happen in the cinema but also in homes where parents leave children to watch whatever they want on TV. It should be stopped and for any parent that loves their child, they should protect them like we were protected by our parents,” she advised.

What the cinema administration thinks

Charles Gachagua, the general manager of Century Cinema, said the cinema has rules and they are usually followed - including child protection.

“Yes, Man of Steel is rated PG-13 but these are movies that are watched even at home. They are totally loved by kids and we always first ask the parent if they are okay with the child watching it and if they are, we let the child watch the movie,” he said.

Gachagua added that much as children will be allowed to go for action movies below the appropriate age limit, the same doesn’t apply to movies with strong language and nudity, for example The heat. In such cases, the cinema is vigilant and doesn’t allow children in.

An expert’s view

“There’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that when kids watch violent movies, they become more aggressive,” observed a study by co-author Dr. James D. Sargent, a professor in the department of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.

And yet violent media has become easier and easier to access for children. So, for the movie industry, the message is that the 1960s ratings system needs to be updated and made more explicit and relevant to the way movies are being distributed and seen today.”

“But also, parents need to be much more careful about how their children consume violent media,” he added.

Dr. Christopher P. Lucas, Director of New York University’s Adolescent Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Program (“STEPS”) at the university’s Child Study Center in New York City, agreed that adolescent access to violence-laden film has broadened significantly in recent years. However, he disputed the notion that the research to date has confirmed a solid relationship between adolescent exposure to cinematic violence and aberrant behavior.

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