Tag Archives: social fluency

When To Expose Your Kids To Star Wars – A White Paper

14 Feb

WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO EXPOSE YOUR KIDS TO STAR WARS?

D. Daddy, R Maddocks, Z Rosenberg, A Kercinik, R Fugelseth, S Behson, J Zahn, A Davis, C Gaddis, DN Charge, T Reed, B Father, Bill, C Routly, DOT Run, T Burns, PP Dad, T Rogers, H Elliss 

Discipline of Fatherhood, Dorkery and the Greater Blogging Sciences

Dad Bloggers University, Facebook USA

ABSTRACT:

Background and Overview: The influence of the Star Wars movies – and franchise as a whole – on popular culture is beyond dispute. Many, if not most marketing efforts are aimed at young children and they respond enthusiastically. Moreover, today’s generation of young parents grew up with the Star Wars franchise themselves and eagerly anticipate sharing their love of that material with their children. But conscientious parents also take note of some very adult subject in those movies, and thought needs to be given towards when is the appropriate time to expose a child to those images. No definitive answer has been offered beyond the “PG” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Most parents agree those guidelines are nebulous at best.

Nineteen conscientious, actively blogging fathers were assembled and asked to respond to the question “What is the right age to expose your kids to Star Wars?”

Nineteen conscientious, actively blogging fathers were assembled and asked to respond to the question “What is the right age to expose your kids to Star Wars?” Subjects were given full latitude as to the tone and content of their responses, and were asked only to keep those responses to a reasonable length. The results were assembled in this paper, in order to offer the internet, and the worldwide parenting community some guidance when considering when to expose children to Star Wars.

Conclusion: Fathers answers ranged from “in the womb” to “never”, with an average suggested age of somewhere between 5 and 6. Fathers also cited innumerable variables to take into consideration which were not consistent from child to child, or from family to family. There was concensus among the sampled fathers that exposure should be determined on a child-by-child basis, taking into account that child’s emotional, intillectual and social development, and always under parental supervision.

Methodology:

My daughter's 5th birthdayDork Daddy of DorkDaddy.com

Recommended Age: 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

I don’t want my child the only one at the lunch table who doesn’t know what an X-wing fighter is, but I don’t want to field phonecalls from angry parents because my child was making a big deal about hacking, slashing, killing and shooting (kissing your sister)… for the full article click here

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Ron MattocksRon Mattocks of ClarkKentsLunchbox

Recommended Age: 4-5

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

I’ve been fascinated with Star Wars since age 5 when A New Hope came out. Ironically, I never actually was allowed to see the first two movies until my teens. Our family’s church had a strict policy against supporting the devil’s “magic talking pictures”… for the full article click here

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zachZach Rosenberg of 8bitDad

Recommended Age: Any age, with parental guidance

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

This is a tough question. On one hand, you’ve got the by-the-numbers rule: they’re, for the most part, PG movies, which means “”Parental Guidance Suggested.”” So, that being said, as long as there’s a parent, you should be good. But on the other hand, there’s a whole lot of violence in the original trilogy… for the full article click here

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KercinikAlan Kercinik of AlwaysJacked

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: I like both but if I have to pick, Star Wars

There are parents, perfectly reasonable people in probably most other respects, who would suggest that I have exposed Jack to entertainments that are not age appropriate. So far, he has seen The Princess Bride and The Karate Kid (Macchio, not Smith) multiple times. To the point that he can recite dialog. He has, only a couple of times, play attacked the dog, saying, “”Take that ROUS!”” Really. Play attack. Next on our list is Star Wars… for the full article click here

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fugelsethRon Fugelseth of A Toy Train In Space

Recommended Age: 4 1/2

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

The first time I watched Star Wars was some time before the age of 5, and it marked the beginning of a magical time in my young life. Now that I have a son who is 4 1/2, going on 5, I figure he is now the same age I was so why not introduce him to something that was such an integral part of my childhood. Of course before I could even show him the film, he had already figured out how to turn every stick and cardboard paper towel tube into a lightsaber… for the full article click here

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besonScott Behson of Fathers, Work And Family

Recommended Age: 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars, geez is that even a question…

I’m a planner by nature, and I think the world is in a rush to have our kids grow up too fast. So, I delayed Star Wars until Nick was 6 (he’s now 7 ½). I LOVE Star Wars and wanted him to love it too- I figured premature exposure may ruin it… for the full article click here

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james zahnJames Zahn aka The Rock Father

Recommended Age: 2 1/2

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: STAR WARS

Although I wasn’t even four years old at the time, I distinctly remember seeing EMPIRE on the big screen. Taking a page from my own upbringing, I’d say by age three all children should be required to view STAR WARS… for the full article click here

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ande davisAnde Davis of & Squatch Makes Three

Recommended Age: Maybe 4. Maybe 28.

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Marvel ((editor’s note for Ande: Marvel is owned by Disney… as is Star Wars. Ande narrowly escapes execution on this one))

I didn’t see any of the Star Wars movies as a whole, straight-through, until I saw Episode III in the theater with my wife’s family. I had no idea what was going on. I saw the first two movies (Episodes IV and V) for the first time when I was 28… for the full article click here

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Carter GaddisCarter Gaddis of Dadscribe

Recommended Age: 4-8, depending on the kid

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

My wife and I decided that our older son was ready for Episode IV (or most of it, anyway) when he was IV. Now, there were caveats. I fast-forwarded through the Vader strangulation scene at the beginning, as well as the severed arm and Greedo’s death at the hands of Han in the cantina scene… for the full article click here

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dadnchargeDadNCharge of dadncharge.com

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I started showing my son the Star Wars series when he was four which was in 2009. Even though I still don’t like the first three movies over the last three, and any self respecting Star Wars fan will say so, I still thought he should see the movies in order so as to not confuse him… for the full article click here

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Dad-Loves-Movies_squareTodd Reed of dadlovesmovies.com

Recommended Age: In The Womb

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Both, but personally lean a little more Trek, but Star Wars is more kid-friendly.  I’ve been using it as a gateway drug and am now starting him on the original Star Trek series.

Q: When is is appropriate to expose your kids to Star Wars?

A: The womb… for the full article click here

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BloggerFatherBloggerFather from bloggerfather.com

Recommended Age: 3, no 4, no 5… *sigh* maybe 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Trek

I tried when my son was 3. It was a very exciting day. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it past “The Red People” — the robot traders ((editor’s note: Jawas)). Maybe the nerds have a more accurate name for them, but in our house they’re known as “The Red People… for the full article click here

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ihopeiwinatoasterBill from ihopeiwinatoaster

Recommended Age: Never

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Mayberry, RFD

I have to think about Star Wars again.  I don’t really want to, but, our American zeitgeist – think LEGOs and Saturday cartoons and models and the constant quoting and referencing and the endless “iconic” imagery – and the fact that I have nearly eight-year-old twin boys, makes it an imperative.  I am not happy about it… for the full article click here

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chris roultryChris Routly of daddydoctrines.com

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“My general thought is that “”exposure”” to Star Wars can start from, well, birth. I mean, no harm in dressing your infant up like Yoda, or giving your toddler a stuffed Jawa, right? The Big Question for me is when I should sit down my boys to start watching the movies… for the full article click here

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ontherunDad On The Run from the blog of the same name.

Recommended Age: 5 or 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: What is this Star Trek you speak of?

My wife and I started discussing this early on, and when our oldest was a toddler we imagined that 5 or 6 would be a good age to begin training her in the ways of the force. Fast forward a few years and we are there… for the full article click here

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tom burnsTom Burns of buildingalibrary.com

Recommended Age: 6 +/-

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: I visit both camps, but spent more time at Camp Star Wars as a child

“For me, trying to figure out the appropriate age to expose your kids to Star Wars is all about knowing your kid and knowing how they react to violence and death. I’m not saying that A New Hope is on par with a Tarantino movie when it comes to murder and mayhem, but, despite the fantasy trappings of the Star Wars universe, there is some really awful stuff that happens in the movies… for the full article click here

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postpostPost Postmodern Dad from postpostmoderndad.com

Recommended Age: 7-9

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Formerly both but now? Doctor Who

7-ish for Star Wars. 8 or 9 for Empire Strikes Back and then everything else can follow… for the full article click here

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greedoThomas Rogers, Awkward Story Dad of awkwardstory.com

Recommended Age: 6, possibly 7

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

One day in the distant future, I will be called into my son’s school for a parent conference. A secretary will inform me via phone that my child has been sent to the principal’s office for inappropriate behavior. When I arrive, a polite school administrator will invite me to sit down next to the adorable monster that looks like me, and ask the little guy to explain himself… for the full article click here

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henryellissHenry Elliss of Henry’s Blog

Recommended Age: 6 or 7

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Mainly Star Wars, but JJ’s reboot has made me pretty bipartisan now.

“I just asked my 4-year-old son Robert, “When do you think you’ll be old enough to watch Star Wars with Daddy?”, to which he replied “Hmmm, when I am 6 or 7. They’re too scary for me now”… for the full article click here

The full-text articles can be found below.

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My daughter's 5th birthdayDork Daddy of DorkDaddy.com

Recommended Age: 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

When Star Wars was released on May 25th, 1977 I was a 3 ½ year old boy. In the following years, between the action figures and the lunchboxes and the underoos, I was completely indoctrinated. In those formative years how could I not be? Growing up in that era, Star Wars is part of my DNA. It is inextricably fused with most of the awesome memories of my childhood. Naturally any loving father wants to share the things he loves with his children, so it was never really a question that my children would grow up with Star Wars too. That said, the real question is “when” and “how” to expose them to it, and there is not easy answer.

My son with the old Xwing toy his dad gave him after watching Star Wars. What sort of dork saves his old Star Wars toys for 30 years to give to his kids?

My son with the old Xwing toy his dad gave him after watching Star Wars. What sort of dork saves his old Star Wars toys for 30 years to give to his kids?

On the one hand, Star Wars is just rad. It makes for awesome playtime with your kids, whether it’s fantasy make-believe roleplaying, or epic lightsaber battles out in the backyard. I’ve got an entire attic full of all my old Star Wars toys I’ve saved lo these many decades that I can’t wait to pass down to my kids. I’m excited about it, like a kid waiting for Christmas. These things make me want to show them Star Wars earlier. But then there are the adult themes that come along with Star Wars – gunplay, smouldering corpses, hacking off various limbs, a young boy losing his family. There’s no need to expose children to those ideas any earlier than you have to. I’m not interested in having over-sheltered children, but I do want them to keep their childhood innocence as long as they can. These thoughts give me pause, and good reason to wait to expose my kids to Star Wars. Then there’s the social-competency factor – kids at school. I don’t want my child the only one at the lunch table who doesn’t know what an X-wing fighter is, but I don’t want to field phonecalls from angry parents because my child was making a big deal about hacking, slashing, killing and shooting (kissing your sister). I think any responsible parent thinks about this stuff.

My wife and I had the conversation early. We agreed that we would wait until the kids were 6 before showing them the movies. I’m sad to say in a moment of weakness last year I broke the covenant of trust with my wife and showed the original movie to my then 3 ½ year old son. It was an awesome father/son day – totally a net-positive for him. But I got lucky. As young as he was, he missed a lot of the details. To this day when conversation turns to how Darth Vader was trying to kill his own son, my sensitive boy chokes up and says holding back tears “I don’t want to talk about that, Daddy.” With my eldest I did manage to wait until she was 6, showing her the entire trilogy in 10 minute intervals during bedtime snuggles. I have to say that was ideal. Everything about that experience felt right. She was the perfect age for all of it, and the experience for both of us was amazing. Those are two success stories, but I also have some experience with ultimate failure, when I exposed my son to certain Star Wars elements before he was ready. Worst. Parenting. Day. Ever. (Read about it here: part 1, part 2).

Ultimately, unless you raise your kids in the wilderness, you can’t avoid Star Wars. It isn’t a question of whether or not to expose them to it, it’s a question of when and how. If you’re on the conservative side, inevitably Star Wars will start creeping up in your kids life before they’ve seen the actual movies. There are plenty of acceptable gateway drugs into the Star Wars universe before exposure to the movies themselves. T-shirts, lunchboxes, cartoons, legos (especially the legos… I can’t rave about them enough)… all are fantastic ways to introduce your child to Star Wars. For my part, both my older kids had a positive experience, even if I jumped the gun with the younger one. Ultimately, as with all things parenting, it’s about knowing your children – knowing what they’re capable of digesting, how prepared they are for certain life lessons etc. Then, when the time comes, it’s about sitting down with them, holding their hand, and being there to share the experience with them.
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Ron MattocksRon Mattocks of ClarkKentsLunchbox

Recommended Age: 4-5

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“I’ve been fascinated with Star Wars since age 5 when A New Hope came out. Ironically, I never actually was allowed to see the first two movies until my teens. Our family’s church had a strict policy against supporting the devil’s “magic talking pictures.” I did, however, watch the premier of Return of the Jedi after the neighbor lady took me and her nephew, thus starting me on a road of iniquity and ruin. It was worth it.

I suppose it’s in this context that I determined to share my fondness of Star Wars with my children early on. When my oldest was 5 I introduced him to Episode I. Despite Jar Jar Binks’ high-pitched yapping, my son was hooked and, having seen every movie and played every video game since, he still is at age 14. (Right now he’s working through the Old Republic game while giving me the play-by-play.)

When Attack of the Clones came out I took him and his younger brother, who was around 4 to see it at the theater. Although he enjoyed all the action, my second born wasn’t quite as enthralled as his brother. He did, however, like the action figures and age-appropriate video games (i.e. Star Wars LEGOS). My third son came along shortly before Revenge of the Sith was released. On this final installment, I was a little more cautious because of the movie’s rating and graphic ending.  Eventually, though, I did let them watch Anakin’s descent when the movie came out on DVD. Sadly, son number three, who’s is now 8, announced to me over Christmas he no longer wanted anymore Star Wars stuff. I was crushed.

Then there were my stepdaughters who I took to see the Clone Wars movie at ages 6 and 7. They were immediately fascinated—of course the cross-dressing Hutt with a Truman Capote voice made for a lot of question, but in any case, they were bona-fide geeks from that moment on.  Episode III also made for some interesting questions such as, why did Anakin hurt his wife Padme and who thought it a good idea to leave Jar Jar unsupervised in the Galactic Senate. (Like WTF?)

Ultimately, in response to the question of when is a good age to introduce your children to Star Wars, I can’t answer that for everyone. Parenting is a personal endeavor. In other words, what might be okay for one family might not for another, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For our family, we tend to expose our children to some things early. However, we also talk to them about it too in order to help them understand choices and consequences. There certainly is a lot of opportunity for this in a galaxy far, far away. ”

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zachZach Rosenberg of 8bitDad

Recommended Age: Any age, with parental guidance

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“This is a tough question. On one hand, you’ve got the by-the-numbers rule: they’re, for the most part, PG movies, which means “”Parental Guidance Suggested.”” So, that being said, as long as there’s a parent, you should be good.

But on the other hand, there’s a whole lot of violence in the original trilogy (we’re not even venturing into the prequels yet). Vader and Luke cut each others’ hands off, Luke beheads Vader in that weird acid trip in Dagobah, tons of people are shot, including Ewoks. Many Bothans died to bring the Rebel Alliance their information. You get the idea.

Problematically, the prequels are – I hate to say this – more attractive to modern kids. The original trilogy looks, well, old. But the new trilogy (which also includes the PG-13 – and for good reason – “”Revenge of the Sith””) is visually more in-line with what kids see elsewhere. In any event, the prequels are a lot more violent.

And then there’s the toy industry. Star Wars toys everywhere. Try to have a birthday party for your son and not receive something Star Warsy.

All of this being said, most of the movies can be enjoyed by kids of any age, with parental guidance. Sit with your kids, watch the movies and shield them or distract them during the more explicit scenes. But each kid is different. The original Star Wars trilogy offers a great way to open up conversations about fathers and children through the Vader/Luke/Leia story. It also can open up the good-and-evil-grey-areas talk. And, if nothing else, it’s a movie with a lot of cool space stuff. I don’t know if I can quantify an age. But the key is to share it with your children responsibly, which means off of an old VHS so you know you’ve got the non-edited movies where Han Solo shoots first.”

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KercinikAlan Kercinik of AlwaysJacked

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: I like both but if I have to pick, Star Wars

“Jack is my oldest son. He is not yet four.

There are parents, perfectly reasonable people in probably most other respects, who would suggest that I have exposed Jack to entertainments that are not age appropriate. So far, he has seen The Princess Bride and The Karate Kid (Macchio, not Smith) multiple times. To the point that he can recite dialog. He has, only a couple of times, play attacked the dog, saying, “”Take that ROUS!”” Really. Play attack.

Next on our list is Star Wars. I asked my wife for the Blu-Ray of the original trilogy. She came through. She knows that movies are our thing and indulges me in sharing these geeky things with my son. I think we’ll hold it to Star Wars for now. Empire is so great, but that’s a nightmare maker. Luke fighting Vader in the swamp, then seeing his own face? Man, that still creeps me out.

The thing is, Jack is, I think, older than his years. I’m not saying that every kid could handle that movie at 4. But this one can. He’s thoughtful and curious and likes stories of good and evil. I’m very much heartened that he always always always wants to be the good guy.

If your kid wants to know about why people do what they do and asks you questions about God and doesn’t like when people do mean and bad things, then  s/he’s ready. And Star Wars is a hell of a lot better than some of those fairy tales we’re supposed to read kids. I mean, witches and gingerbread houses? ”

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fugelsethRon Fugelseth of A Toy Train In Space

Recommended Age: 4 1/2

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“I love this subject as Star Wars was such a large part of my childhood. The first time I watched Star Wars was some time before the age of 5, and it marked the beginning of a magical time in my young life. Now that I have a son who is 4 1/2, going on 5, I figure he is now the same age I was so why not introduce him to something that was such an integral part of my childhood. Of course before I could even show him the film, he had already figured out how to turn every stick and cardboard paper towel tube into a lightsaber.

Ron's son Jayden watching his dad's VHS.

Ron’s son Jayden watching his dad’s VHS.

A few months ago, I took my son over to my parent’s house (the same house I grew up in), and there I saw it…the old VHS tape my mom had recorded Star Wars onto back in the 80′s, still collecting dust on the bookshelf I had retrieved it from when I was a child. Just seeing it there on the shelf took me back to being a kid again. I immediately ran to my old bedroom and grabbed some figures and a ship from my Star Wars toy collection (still at my parent’s house), and sat down with my son in front of the TV. Yes, it’s true, my parents STILL have a VHS player, so we were in luck. I sat there on the living room floor watching the classic HBO logo animation, once again mesmerized by the sight of the Star Destroyer drifting across the screen as if I was 5 years old again. There he stood in all his glory, Darth Vader coming through the burnt hatch…it was breathtaking.

I will admit, a 30 year old VHS tape that’s been watched 100 times doesn’t hold up as well as one may have expected. The desert scenes looked like snow, and the audio sounded like an AM radio. But, being able to watch an unadulterated version of Star Wars without the “”improved scenes”” George added in the 90′s seemed like more of an authentic experience. Maybe we didn’t make it through the whole film, but my son and I eagerly gathered several of my old figures to take home so he could start his own collection. Since that day, every time I nearly kill myself tripping over those toys in his room (and all over the house), I am reminded that I made the right decision.”

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besonScott Behson of Fathers, Work And Family

Recommended Age: 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars, geez is that even a question…

“I’m a planner by nature, and I think the world is in a rush to have our kids grow up too fast. So, I delayed Star Wars until Nick was 6 (he’s now 7 ½). I LOVE Star Wars and wanted him to love it too- I figured premature exposure may ruin it.

What pushed me over the edge, despite my hesitations was when I was called to do a customer focus group for some unknown product. It turns out the focus group was to get reactions to new Lego Star Wars products (awesome!), and the room was full of Dads about my age with kids about my son’s age. Almost all of them had shared Star Wars with their kids by then, and especially extolled the virtues of the Lego Star wars video game.

The next day, I showed Nick some you tube clips- as a way to gauge his interest (through the roof), expose him to characters (he instantly was head over heels for Darth Maul!), and talk about basic plot points. I figured this would make the movies easier for him to understand and enjoy. It worked!

He devoured the movies on DVD (and they are still in heavy rotation, especially Episodes 4 and 6). The Wii game came shortly after, and we played that together for about 6 months straight (great game, and the best was when, he wanted me to play but I was busy with work, and he said (and I shit you not) “the galaxy is better with you and me”- how could I resist?)

This Halloween, we went to our town’s parade as a big group of SW characters- he was Vader, I was Boba Fett, my wife was Amidala, and two friends were Leia and a Stormtrooper. It was awesome.

We have light saber battles almost every day (between this and his gymnastics, he really makes a great Jedi), and have battle-scenes all sketched out for the movie he wants to make when he’s older.

Just a few weeks ago, Nick experienced the high point of his life, as he battled Darth Maul at Disney World’s Jedi Training Academy!

In short, I think waiting until he was fully ready made finally seeing Star wars a life-changing experience for nick and a great bonding opportunity for us. Don’t rush things.

May the force be with you all.

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james zahnJames Zahn aka The Rock Father

Recommended Age: 2 1/2

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: STAR WARS

“I was less than a year old when the original STAR WARS arrived in theaters on May 25, 1977. While I don’t remember the first time that I got to view the original film, it’s a documented fact (thanks to old Polaroids and plenty of Super 8mm film reels) that I started amassing a sizable collection of the original Kenner Action Figures well before the THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was released in 1980. Although I wasn’t even four years old at the time, I distinctly remember seeing EMPIRE on the big screen. Taking a page from my own upbringing, I’d say by age three all children should be required to view STAR WARS.

My oldest daughter is 3 and a half as of this writing, and it was about a year ago that I first sat her down for a taste of EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. A short time afterward, we had our first experience “”playing STAR WARS”” with Luke Skywalker, a Tauntaun, and a Wampa. The snow-covered landscape of Northern Illinois stood-in for Hoth  and a year later I have a legit STAR WARS fan on my hands. She’s now seen the entire Original Trilogy, and pieces of the prequels. She loves the LEGO Star Wars specials, and has a few STAR WARS t-shirts in her wardrobe. In fact, just today I had both of my daughters decked-out in STAR WARS shirts. My youngest is 7-months, and while she hasn’t seen the films yet, she’s already being “”exposed”” to a galaxy far, far away.”

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ande davisAnde Davis of & Squatch Makes Three

Recommended Age: Maybe 4. Maybe 28.

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Marvel ((editor’s note for Ande: Marvel is owned by Disney… as is Star Wars. Ande narrowly escapes execution on this one))

“Short answer: When they want to sit down and watch it.

Long answer: I didn’t see any of the Star Wars movies as a whole, straight-through, until I saw Episode III in the theater with my wife’s family. I had no idea what was going on. I saw the first two movies (Episodes IV and V) for the first time when I was 28.

The person who finally made me watch them was a 4-year-old boy who was on the hockey team I coached. We watched them in the back seat of his car as his mom and my wife talked in the front seat on the way to a tournament in Iowa City. He’d seen them several times and loved them already. He was telling me who everyone was and what was going on. At four.

At four, I had no desire to see the movies. At 14 or 24, I had no desire to see the movies. I don’t think it really has anything to do with age, necessarily, as much as it has to do with their willingness to absorb it. The same holds true for sharing any parent’s passion with a kid. I’l have to hold off showing my kid the X-Men movies until he’ll want to sit down and watch them with me or taking him to a baseball game until he’s willing to be in his seat for that long. I’m betting he’ll let me know when it’s time.

The right age is going to depend on the kid. They might be 4. They might be 28. When they’re ready, they’re ready.”

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Carter GaddisCarter Gaddis of Dadscribe

Recommended Age: 4-8, depending on the kid

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“My wife and I decided that our older son was ready for Episode IV (or most of it, anyway) when he was IV. Now, there were caveats. I fast-forwarded through the Vader strangulation scene at the beginning, as well as the severed arm and Greedo’s death at the hands of Han in the cantina scene. It wasn’t until he was almost seven that he saw the “”uncut”” version, and by then he understood the concept of make believe.

Some background: I saw a New Hope three times in the theater the summer of 1977. I was 8. Naturally, that left an impression. My interest in the Star Wars franchise has led me to many of the novels, starting with the first Timothy Zahn trilogy. I also have spent far more time than I should admit playing the various permutations of Star Wars-themed video games. So, my sons never really stood a chance. They were going to be exposed to it, even if only on the periphery. Rather than conceal it and needlessly create a Star Wars stigma in our house, I let them in. It’s now something we share, although I doubt either of my sons will ever approach it with anywhere near the passion I have over the years.

That said, we have not yet decided that the time is right for our younger son, who is now 4. He simply could not process the story or fathom the first thing about even the most rudimentary themes. Whereas, his older brother sat and watched, riveted, throughout the entire first showing, our younger son would probably last about 15 minutes before moving on to the next thing or begging to watch Thomas the Train. That’s OK, too. I think that illustrates, for us, anyway, that there probably is no single age that is appropriate for the first exposure to Star Wars. I’m sure he’ll come around, eventually.

One thing I have not done is show either of them Episodes I-III. Now, we have played LEGO Star Wars, the Complete Saga, together on the PS3. But that only gives a cursory overview of the accursed prequels. If either of my sons ever want to see those poorly made, poorly acted, poorly conceived abominations, they’ll have to do so once they’ve left the nest. If then. ”

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dadnchargeDadNCharge of dadncharge.com

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“Much to the chagrin of my wife, I started showing my son the Star Wars series when he was four which was in 2009. Even though I still don’t like the first three movies over the last three, and any self respecting Star Wars fan will say so, I still thought he should see the movies in order so as to not confuse him. Lego Star Wars, the video game ironically came out on April 5th, 2005, the same day as my son’s birthday.  Once my son was old enough to play with action figures without eating the parts, I took out my old collection of Star Wars toys and taught him all the characters names. There was a natural progression there from playing with the figures to making up our own stories which I based on the movies and that is when he started to ask questions about the characters.

My son was in preschool in 2008, which is when The Clone Wars animated series began. We started seeing more backpacks and Clones Wars toys and T-shirts on all the little guys so I was curious, was this something he could watch?  At this time, he was only three and I deemed it too stressful. Since he was getting stressed out watching Bob the Builder, I didn’t push it.

While at another boy’s house on a play date, he first played Lego Star Wars on the Wii with his friend. He instantly became very interested in learning all he could about Star Wars. The Wii was bought for a Christmas present later that year and we bought Lego Star Wars and played it together. I found that it was a kid friendly and funny way to tell the saga and we enjoyed playing it together when my younger daughter was sleeping.

Once he mastered the Wii, I felt it was time to show him the movies. I came across an article about how a little bit of stress was good for kids, that it showed them resilience but that you didn’t want to overwhelm them. For this reason, I would show him the movie in parts and talk about it afterwards. There were some stressful parts and I had to fast forward through some of the boring talking parts for him because sometimes he didn’t understand what was going on. Unfortunately, with Hayden Christensen as Anakin, I was fast forwarding a lot.  I thought it was cool that in the first movie my son could see that Anakin started off as a boy just like him and I think that he identified with that.  I justified it by comparing it with some of the Disney movies he was also watching. There always seemed to be some kind of conflict with tense moments in these movies albeit animated in most cases, but I never showed him the parts where people were cut in half or lost arms or hands.

After watching all the films together he came to his own conclusion that the last three films are better than the first three and that Jar Jar was an annoying character…that’s my boy!

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Dad-Loves-Movies_squareTodd Reed of dadlovesmovies.com

Recommended Age: In The Womb

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Both, but personally lean a little more Trek, but Star Wars is more kid-friendly.  I’ve been using it as a gateway drug and am now starting him on the original Star Trek series.

“Q: When is is appropriate to expose your kids to Star Wars?

A: The womb

There is no better way to being indoctrinating your little one in the ways of the Force than to be strapping mom-to-be in a recliner and cranking the surround sound up on the opening credits of Episode IV.  It’s not a successful pregnancy unless the child slides out of the womb to the Imperial March.

In all seriousness though, I think it ultimately comes down to the child.  Parents know their children best and know what they can and cannot handle.

While I may not have “”strapped”” the wife into the recliner, Star Wars was definitely being pumped into the amniotic ether simply because I am such a fan.

While there are themes that may not be appropriate for younger viewers, most of that will go over their heads (like the adult jokes in a Pixar film), and they’ll begin to fall in love with the characters.  They become a launch pad for the imagination as it opens them up to a whole new world.

For my kids, especially my last one (who is currently 10 – the age I was when the first movie came out), Star Wars has always been a part of his life, whether it was the stuffed R2-D2 he had in his crib or the movies on in the background.  We graduated to lightsabers, Halloween costumes, action figures and Lego sets over the years, but Star Wars is a bond I think we will always share.

Though we’ve watched them many times at home, I was thrilled to take him to see Episode 1 on the big screen last year (Yes, it is a flawed movie, but I’ll take flawed Star Wars over most other films), and I’m looking forward to taking him to see the remaining films (and maybe some new ones) over the next few years.”

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BloggerFatherBloggerFather from bloggerfather.com

Recommended Age: 3, no 4, no 5… *sigh* maybe 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Trek

“I tried when my son was 3. It was a very exciting day. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it past “”The Red People”” — the robot traders. Maybe the nerds have a more accurate name for them, but in our house they’re known as “”The Red People.””

I tried again when he was 4. This time he didn’t make it past Vader.

I tried again recently, just before he turned 5, and he ran from the room when the opening title started rolling.

We went to an open-air concert in July–the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played John Williams tunes in the park. People came dressed up, and there were fireworks at the end… So I asked my son, “”Maybe you’ll watch Star Wars when you’re 5?”” And he said, “”7,”” Maybe we’ll settle for 6.”

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ihopeiwinatoasterBill from ihopeiwinatoaster

Recommended Age: Never

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Mayberry, RFD

“I have to think about Star Wars again.  I don’t really want to, but, our American zeitgeist – think LEGOs and Saturday cartoons and models and the constant quoting and referencing and the endless “iconic” imagery – and the fact that I have nearly eight-year-old twin boys, makes it an imperative.  I am not happy about it.

Oh, I have a lot of reasons to not like Star Wars, and to not want my kids to see them.  Mostly I have a problem with the commercial juggernaut the whole thing has become.  I really don’t like what’s-his-head, Lucas, is it?  He seems like a prick.  I think, and have been cautioned by my pediatrician, that the imagery is too violent and chop-cut, the sound levels are too loud (and the score too pedestrian) and the plot too complicated and stereotyped for young minds.  (Actually the pediatrician just said the thing about the visuals and loudness, I sort of, well, inferred the rest.)  Maybe the message is at its core, heroic, but there is too much stuff in the way, blowing-up-dead-people-complex-subplot-stuff, to find it.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Listen, I don’t know you, and, if you think it’s okay for your four year-old to watch these movies, go ahead.  I assume that the kid is in your lap and you’re stopping and explaining all the complications and twists and bodies.  I assume you’ll abandon  the movie when asked and soothe any bad dreams it may cause.  However, if you are simply plopping the kid in front of the sixty inch, cranking the surround sound and are just watching it for your own enjoyment, well, I think your kid is too young for that.

You know what?  As sick and twisted as it sounds, my family sits around a table and crafts together; we build a fire in the fireplace and sing “This Land is Your Land” and “Puff, The Magic Dragon;” we go camping and read books together.  My boys make pretend cell phones out of cardboard and fashion computers out of paper.  In other words, my kids are naive, hell, I’m naive, and, well, Star Wars is complicated, implicative and difficult to explain.  I guess my kids are too young for the movies, but, they’re being raised in Mayberry.  It’s nice here.

Yes, Opie, I am your Father. ”

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chris roultryChris Routly of daddydoctrines.com

Recommended Age: 4

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“My general thought is that “”exposure”” to Star Wars can start from, well, birth. I mean, no harm in dressing your infant up like Yoda, or giving your toddler a stuffed Jawa, right? The Big Question for me is when I should sit down my boys to start watching the movies. I have two boys, ages 2 and 4. The younger is, for now, clueless about All Things Star Wars. But this past year the 4-year-old took an interest in lightsabers after we watched a fan-made lightsaber battle video on YouTube. Days later he specifically asked me if we could watch a real movie “”with lightsabers.””

After discussing it with my wife, we decided to introduce him to the movies, starting with Episode IV: A New Hope. It was split into 4 separate “”Family Movie Nights”” where we watched about a half-hour at a time. He enjoyed it, though of course he had no idea what was going on. He asked a lot of questions. I had to distract him when the burning corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were shown. He laughed at “”the funny robot”” a lot, but in his case this was whenever Darth Vader appeared on screen, not R2-D2 or C-3PO. He still thinks Vader is hilarious.

My plan is to move on the Empire Strikes Back next, but I have decided to wait a while before he watches anything more. We’ll have a few more viewings of A New Hope over the next couple of years, I figure, maybe until he is 6 or even 7 before moving on. For now, he now has toy lightsabers, an X-Wing and a TIE Fighter, and a little toy R2, all procured as Christmas gifts this year from well-meaning family members. He’ll undoubtedly make friends with other kids whose Star Wars knowledge rubs off on him.

Was age 4 too early to show him A New Hope? I don’t know. Maybe I got lucky in that he didn’t get scared or break my heart by hating it. Either way, I’ll take some solace that it was after watching A New Hope that he decided he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, and took an interest in space, rockets, planets, and shuttles.”

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ontherunDad On The Run from the blog of the same name.

Recommended Age: 5 or 6

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: What is this Star Trek you speak of?

“My wife and I started discussing this early on, and when our oldest was a toddler we imagined that 5 or 6 would be a good age to begin training her in the ways of the force. Fast forward a few years and we are there. My daughter, J Bean, was just introduced to “”A New Hope”” this past week after grooming her for it with the Star Wars Alphabet book (B is for Boba Fett) and Star Wars collecting cards in her rewards jar.

This worked out pretty well for us, by the time we watched the movie (soon after her 4th birthday) she had some understanding of the Star Wars universe and would ask things like, “”Is that a dangerous droid?”” or make comments like “”They told a story, those ARE the droids they are looking for!”” and “”Those little people ran R2D2′s battery down, that is not very nice… and where is SeaFreePeevOh?!?””

I wouldn’t argue with a parent who wanted to wait a little longer as I think J Bean’s grasp on the plot line as a whole is pretty shallow, but she likes good guy/bad guy drama, fighting, lasers and flying so there are no complaints from her end. My favorite moment was when she correctly identified a tie fighter the very first time she saw one on screen. I think my heart grew 2 sizes! The force is strong with this one. So, my definitive answer is: As soon as you can no longer wait. Then again and again and again, until they love it as much as you do. If they don’t? You could always try to have another kid. ”

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tom burnsTom Burns of buildingalibrary.com

Recommended Age: 6 +/-

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: I visit both camps, but spent more time at Camp Star Wars as a child

“For me, trying to figure out the appropriate age to expose your kids to Star Wars is all about knowing your kid and knowing how they react to violence and death. I’m not saying that A New Hope is on par with a Tarantino movie when it comes to murder and mayhem, but, despite the fantasy trappings of the Star Wars universe, there is some really awful stuff that happens in the movies. Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen are killed and burned, a jerk named Greedo gets shot (WITHOUT shooting first), Princess Leia is tortured, 95% of a Rebel X-Wing Squadron is blown to bits, and many, many spaceguns are fired constantly – and that’s just the first movie. Yes, it’s all done within the structure of a relatively light-natured space myth, but the darkness is there if your kid wants to see it.

If you have a kid who doesn’t register that kind of violence as real, if they’re the kind of kid who can easily shrug things off and say “it’s only a movie,” I can see letting them see A New Hope at a relatively young age. Maybe four years old. (I realize that I’m skewing to the conservative on this one.)  But if you have a kid who really immerses themselves in stories and has a hard time separating the real and the artificial, personally, I wouldn’t show them Star Wars until first grade or later. For example, my daughter is the kind of kid who gets very introspective after watching a movie and I’ve spent a lot of late, late bedtimes having some really rough discussions with her about topics like what really happened to Nemo’s mother in Finding Nemo. She picks up on all of those little movie moments that, as parents, we hope our kids just gloss over. And because I know she’s like that, I’ve held off on letting her see Star Wars, despite her intense interest. As her parent, I don’t think she’ll react well to it. I may be wrong, but, as her dad, I’m comfortable taking that as an informed decision.

Violence and death aside, other aspects to consider when trying to determine an appropriate Star Wars age are your kid’s personal play habits. Do they play with guns? If not, they may very well want to start after watching Star Wars. Is your kid super-aggressive? Well, show them Star Wars and every long stick they can get their hand on is going to be turned into a lightsaber and swung at your legs (if you’re lucky) afterwards. Not that I’m saying Star Wars exposure guarantees ANY of these behaviors. I’m just saying that your decision to show your child Star Wars needs to be informed by how well you know your kid. You need to look at the variables, process them, and ask yourself “How is my kid going to react?” And, ideally, an appropriate age will emerge. Based on the level of violence in the films alone, personally, I’d pick six as a good median age, though I know that’s going to be considered high by a lot of other parents.

It is important to note, however, that I am only talking about the original Star Wars trilogy. Studies clearly show that there is never an appropriate age to show your children the Star Wars prequels. NEVER.”

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postpostPost Postmodern Dad from postpostmoderndad.com

Recommended Age: 7-9

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Formerly both but now? Doctor Who

7-ish for Star Wars. 8 or 9 for Empire Strikes Back and then everything else can follow. Empire Strikes Back gets dark and deals with some mature themes. And the only order to watch them is 4, 5 6, 1, 2, 3.

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greedoThomas Rogers, Awkward Story Dad of awkwardstory.com

Recommended Age: 6, possibly 7

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Star Wars

“One day in the distant future, I will be called into my son’s school for a parent conference. A secretary will inform me via phone that my child has been sent to the principal’s office for inappropriate behavior. When I arrive, a polite school administrator will invite me to sit down next to the adorable monster that looks like me, and ask the little guy to explain himself.

“Dad, I passed a note in class. When my teacher asked me for the note, I waved my hand across his face and said ‘These are not the notes you’re looking for.’ Then he sent me here to the Emperor’s office. It’s nice to see you. How’s mom?”

I don’t want my son to watch Star Wars. I want my son to watch Star Wars and then play Jedi for the next seven years. I hope that he refers to the doctor’s office as the Death Star, and eventually asks his teacher how old she was when she turned to the dark side.  He’ll make light saber sounds with his chopsticks whenever we get Chinese take-out, and he’ll describe nice people by saying things like “the force is strong with that librarian.”

My boy may be six when he gets called into that principal’s office.  Possibly seven. Either way, I plan on listening intently as the principal voices her concerns. When my John Williams ringtone goes off in the middle of the conference, I’ll do my best to get my son to stop dancing like an ewok on her desk. ”

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henryellissHenry Elliss of Henry’s Blog

Recommended Age: 6 or 7

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Mainly Star Wars, but JJ’s reboot has made me pretty bipartisan now.

“I just asked my 4-year-old son Robert, “”When do you think you’ll be old enough to watch Star Wars with Daddy?””, to which he replied “”Hmmm, when I am 6 or 7. They’re too scary for me now””. So until he changes his mind, I’ll be going with that as a plan.

I don’t actually think I’d want to go too much earlier than that anyway – as much as I love Star Wars (believe me, I do) I also know how much arm-chopping, Rancor-munching, Ewok-stomping, lava-burning action there is in the films – and I don’t think he’s ready for that yet.

At least thanks to Lego he knows about 50% of the characters names though – that’ll do me for now. And for the record, R2-D2 is his favourite…!”

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