Why Do Kids Find Themselves Drawn to Scary Games?

Why do kids find themselves drawn to scary games? This is a question that has puzzled many parents and educators. While some may argue that these games are harmful and should be avoided at all costs, others believe that they can actually be beneficial for children. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why kids are obsessed with scary games and whether or not they are a good thing.

Quick Answer:
Kids are often drawn to scary games because they offer a thrilling and exciting experience. The fear and suspense of these games can be thrilling for some children, and they may enjoy the feeling of being scared in a controlled environment. Additionally, scary games often have engaging storylines and challenging gameplay, which can be appealing to kids who enjoy a good challenge. However, it’s important to note that not all kids enjoy scary games, and it’s important for parents to monitor their children’s gaming habits and ensure that they are not being negatively impacted by the content of the games they play.

The Appeal of Horror Games for Children

Desire for Thrill and Excitement

Horror games provide an opportunity for children to experience a thrilling and exciting form of entertainment. This type of game is designed to create a sense of suspense and fear, which can be thrilling for children who enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with experiencing intense emotions.

Adrenaline Rush

When children play horror games, their bodies undergo a physiological response that is similar to the fight or flight response. This response triggers the release of adrenaline, which prepares the body for intense physical activity. As a result, children may experience an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and a heightened sense of alertness.

Increased Heart Rate

The increased heart rate that occurs during a horror game can be an exhilarating experience for children. It can also create a sense of excitement and intensity that can be difficult to find in other forms of entertainment. This heightened sense of physical arousal can make the experience of playing a horror game even more thrilling for children.

Euphoria and Relief

After experiencing the intense emotions that come with playing a horror game, children may feel a sense of euphoria and relief. This is because their bodies have undergone a physiological response that has prepared them for intense physical activity, and the release of adrenaline has created a sense of excitement and intensity. Once the game is over, children may feel a sense of relief that the experience is over, and they can return to a state of calm and relaxation.

In conclusion, the desire for thrill and excitement is a significant factor that contributes to the appeal of horror games for children. The adrenaline rush that occurs during the game can create a sense of excitement and intensity that is difficult to find in other forms of entertainment. The heightened sense of physical arousal and the release of adrenaline can make the experience of playing a horror game even more thrilling for children.

Escape from Reality

Horror games provide a unique opportunity for children to escape from the stresses and challenges of everyday life. By immersing themselves in a virtual world filled with frightening creatures and scenarios, kids can temporarily leave behind their own fears and anxieties.

Emotional Release

One reason why children may be drawn to horror games is to release pent-up emotions. Playing a game that elicits fear and anxiety can provide a cathartic experience, allowing kids to process and manage their emotions in a safe and controlled environment. This can be particularly helpful for children who may struggle with expressing their feelings in real-life situations.

Venting Frustrations

Horror games can also serve as an outlet for children to vent their frustrations and anger. By allowing them to confront and overcome terrifying obstacles, kids can develop a sense of empowerment and control, which may be lacking in other areas of their lives.

Emotional Regulation

In addition to providing a safe space for emotional release, horror games can also help children learn how to regulate their emotions. By confronting and overcoming their fears in a virtual world, kids can develop coping strategies and resilience that can be applied to real-life situations.

Imagination and Creativity

Horror games also tap into children’s natural desire for imagination and creativity. The dark and mysterious worlds depicted in these games provide endless opportunities for kids to explore and imagine new possibilities.

Storytelling and Narratives

Many horror games feature complex storylines and intricate narratives that capture children’s imaginations. By engaging with these stories, kids can develop a love for storytelling and learn how to create their own compelling narratives.

Exploration of the Unknown

Finally, horror games provide a unique opportunity for children to explore the unknown and discover new things. By venturing into dark and scary worlds, kids can learn about themselves and the world around them, and develop a sense of curiosity and wonder that can last a lifetime.

Understanding the Psychology Behind the Attraction

Key takeaway: Children are drawn to scary games because they provide an opportunity for excitement and thrill, a chance to escape from reality, and a means of exploring their personal limits. Additionally, peer influence and popular culture can impact a child’s attraction to scary games. However, excessive exposure to scary games can have negative effects on children’s mental health and well-being.

Evolutionary Perspective

Survival Instincts

Humans have evolved to possess survival instincts that are triggered by the perception of danger. These instincts are essential for our survival, and they help us react quickly to potential threats. Scary games tap into these survival instincts by creating an environment that simulates a threatening situation.

Threat Detection

Threat detection is a crucial aspect of the survival instincts. When humans perceive a potential threat, their brain triggers a response that prepares the body for action. This response is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response, which is designed to help us react quickly to dangerous situations.

Fight or Flight Response

The fight or flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs when the body perceives a threat. The response is triggered by the release of hormones such as adrenaline, which prepare the body for action. The heart rate increases, breathing becomes quicker, and the body becomes more alert. These physical changes help the body react quickly to potential threats, which can be experienced as an adrenaline rush.

Emotional Development

In addition to survival instincts, emotional development also plays a role in why kids are drawn to scary games.

Desire for Autonomy

As children grow and develop, they often desire more autonomy and independence. Scary games can provide a sense of control and mastery over their environment, which can be appealing to children who are seeking more independence.

Exploration of Personal Limits

Children are naturally curious, and they often want to explore and push their personal limits. Scary games provide a safe and controlled environment for children to explore their fears and test their personal limits. By facing their fears in a virtual environment, children can learn to cope with their fears in real-life situations.

Influence of Peers and Popular Culture

Social Influence

Peers and popular culture play a significant role in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of children. In the context of scary games, children are often influenced by their peers’ preferences and interests. The following are some ways in which peer influence can impact a child’s attraction to scary games:

Imitation and Modeling

Children tend to imitate and model the behavior of their peers, especially those who they perceive as influential or popular. If a child’s friends are interested in scary games, they may be more likely to develop an interest in them as well. This can create a sense of belonging and connection with their peers, as they share a common interest.

Social Acceptance

Children often seek social acceptance and may engage in activities that are popular or trendy among their peers. If scary games are popular among a child’s social circle, they may feel pressure to participate in order to fit in. This desire for social acceptance can override any fear or apprehension they may have about the content of the games.

Media Influence

Media, including television, movies, and video games, can also influence a child’s attraction to scary games. The following are some ways in which media can impact a child’s interest in scary games:

Portrayal of Horror in Media

Horror is a popular genre in media, and it is often portrayed in a sensationalized and dramatized manner. This can make it appealing to children, who may be drawn to the excitement and thrill of the content. However, it is important to note that exposure to excessive violence and horror can have negative effects on a child’s mental health and well-being.

Role Models and Idols

Children often look up to role models and idols, and may be influenced by their behavior and preferences. If a child’s favorite celebrity or influencer endorses or promotes scary games, they may be more likely to develop an interest in them. This can be especially true if the celebrity or influencer is perceived as cool or trendy.

Overall, the influence of peers and popular culture can play a significant role in a child’s attraction to scary games. While it is natural for children to be influenced by their peers and the media they consume, it is important for parents and caregivers to monitor and limit their exposure to excessive violence and horror.

The Dark Side of Scary Games for Children

Negative Effects on Mental Health

Anxiety and Fear

Scary games can have a significant impact on children’s mental health, causing anxiety and fear. Prolonged exposure to such games can lead to the development of generalized anxiety disorder, where children become overly anxious about everyday situations. They may experience excessive worry about school, friends, and family, leading to a constant state of tension and fear.

Moreover, children who play scary games may also develop panic disorder, which is characterized by sudden and intense episodes of fear or discomfort. These episodes can be triggered by certain stimuli, such as sounds or images, and can cause physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and dizziness.


Exposure to scary games can also have a negative impact on children’s mental health by contributing to the development of depression. Children who play such games may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, which can lead to suicidal ideation or self-harm.

In extreme cases, children who are addicted to scary games may isolate themselves from family and friends, leading to a lack of social support and increased feelings of loneliness and despair. They may also have difficulty concentrating, leading to poor academic performance and a negative self-image.

Overall, the negative effects of scary games on children’s mental health cannot be ignored. Parents and caregivers should monitor children’s exposure to such games and provide them with appropriate support and guidance to ensure their well-being.

Addiction and Dependence

Gaming disorder, also known as gaming addiction, is a growing concern among children who are avid gamers. This disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Signs and Symptoms

Children who may be suffering from gaming disorder may exhibit several signs and symptoms, including:

  • Persistent and recurrent gaming behavior lasting for hours on end
  • A need to play games to the point of neglecting other important activities such as schoolwork or spending time with family and friends
  • A decrease in interest in previously enjoyed hobbies or activities
  • Continuing to play games despite negative consequences, such as decreased academic performance or strained relationships with family and friends

Causes and Risk Factors

There are several factors that may contribute to the development of gaming disorder in children. These include:

  • A history of trauma or abuse
  • A family history of addiction or mental health disorders
  • A lack of social support or a feeling of isolation
  • Access to unlimited gaming resources, such as a personal computer or gaming console

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment for gaming disorder typically involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help children learn how to manage their gaming behavior and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Medication may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as depression or anxiety.

Prevention is key when it comes to gaming disorder. Parents can take several steps to reduce the risk of their children developing this disorder, including:

  • Setting limits on the amount of time spent gaming
  • Encouraging children to participate in a variety of activities, including physical exercise and socializing with friends
  • Monitoring children’s gaming behavior and intervening if necessary
  • Seeking professional help if there are concerns about gaming behavior

Impact on Social Skills and Relationships

Isolation and Loneliness

  • Social Isolation

Scary games can contribute to social isolation in children. When kids become absorbed in these games, they may neglect their real-life relationships and friendships. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from others.

  • Loneliness and Depression

Studies have shown that children who spend excessive amounts of time playing scary games are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and depression. The constant exposure to fear and anxiety in these games can cause emotional distress and negatively impact their mental health.

Aggression and Violence

  • Desensitization to Violence

Exposure to violence in scary games can desensitize children to the harmful effects of aggression. This desensitization can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding of the consequences of violence. Over time, children may become more accepting of aggressive behavior and even model it in their own interactions with others.

  • Real-World Violence

Research has suggested that there is a correlation between the consumption of violent media, such as scary games, and an increased likelihood of engaging in real-world violent behavior. This link is concerning, as it highlights the potential for scary games to have a negative impact on children’s behavior and attitudes towards violence.

How to Promote Safe and Healthy Gaming Habits

Setting Limits and Boundaries

When it comes to scary games, it’s important for parents to set limits and boundaries to ensure that their children are not negatively affected by the content. Here are some ways to do that:

Parental Controls

One way to limit the exposure to scary games is by using parental controls. These controls allow parents to restrict the content that their children can access, including games with violent or scary themes. Here are some options to consider:

  • Content Filters: Many gaming consoles and PCs come with built-in content filters that can be activated to block access to specific types of content, such as violent or horror games. These filters can be adjusted based on the child’s age and maturity level.
  • Time Limits: Parents can also set time limits on how long their children can play games. This can help prevent excessive gaming and ensure that children have enough time for other activities, such as homework, exercise, and socializing.
  • Game Ratings: Game ratings, such as the ESRB rating system, can help parents make informed decisions about which games are appropriate for their children. Ratings take into account factors such as violence, language, and sexual content, and can help parents avoid games that may be too scary or mature for their children.

Establishing Open Communication

In addition to setting limits and boundaries, it’s important for parents to establish open communication with their children about their gaming habits. This can help parents understand their children’s interests and preferences, as well as identify any potential issues or concerns. Here are some ways to foster open communication:

  • Talking About Fears: If a child is struggling with a scary game, parents can talk to them about their fears and offer support and guidance. It’s important to validate their feelings and reassure them that it’s okay to feel scared or uncomfortable.
  • Discussing Concerns: Parents can also discuss their concerns about a particular game or genre with their children. By listening to their children’s perspectives and understanding their reasoning, parents can make informed decisions about whether or not to allow their children to play certain games.
  • Sharing Interests and Hobbies: Finally, parents can use gaming as a way to connect with their children and share common interests and hobbies. By playing games together or discussing favorite games, parents can foster a positive and supportive relationship with their children.

Encouraging Balanced Lifestyle

One of the key aspects of promoting safe and healthy gaming habits is encouraging a balanced lifestyle for children. This involves ensuring that they engage in a variety of activities beyond gaming, and prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here are some strategies for promoting a balanced lifestyle:

Physical Activity

Physical activity is essential for children’s overall health and development. Engaging in regular exercise can help improve physical fitness, reduce stress, and boost self-esteem. Here are some benefits of exercise and tips for incorporating physical activity into their daily routine:

  • Benefits of Exercise: Physical activity can help improve cardiovascular health, build strong bones and muscles, enhance coordination and balance, and support weight management.
  • Tips for Incorporating Physical Activity: Encourage children to participate in sports, join a dance class, take up hiking or biking, or simply engage in regular playtime activities that involve movement.

Hobbies and Interests

Having diverse hobbies and interests beyond gaming can help children develop new skills, explore their creativity, and socialize with others. Here are some strategies for diversifying interests:

  • Diversifying Interests: Encourage children to explore different hobbies such as art, music, writing, or photography. They can also try out new activities like cooking, gardening, or building models.
  • Socializing Through Hobbies: Joining clubs or groups that align with their interests can provide opportunities for children to connect with like-minded individuals and make new friends.

Mental Health Support

Promoting mental health is crucial for children’s overall well-being. Here are some strategies for seeking professional help and practicing self-care techniques:

  • Seeking Professional Help: If children are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, it is important to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.
  • Self-Care Techniques: Encourage children to practice self-care techniques such as meditation, journaling, or deep breathing exercises to manage stress and promote emotional well-being.
  • Support Groups and Communities: Participating in support groups or online communities can provide children with a sense of belonging and understanding, and allow them to share their experiences with others who may be going through similar challenges.


1. Why are kids obsessed with scary games?

Answer: Kids are often drawn to scary games because they find them exciting and thrilling. These games provide a sense of adventure and can be a way for kids to explore their fears in a safe and controlled environment. Additionally, many scary games are designed to be entertaining and can be a fun way for kids to spend their free time.

2. Is it healthy for kids to play scary games?

Answer: While playing scary games can be a fun and harmless activity for some kids, it is important for parents to monitor their children’s gaming habits. Excessive playing of scary games can lead to negative effects such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, and fear. It is recommended that parents set limits on the amount of time their children spend playing these types of games and ensure that they are not impacting their child’s overall well-being.

3. What can parents do to prevent their kids from becoming too obsessed with scary games?

Answer: Parents can take several steps to prevent their kids from becoming too obsessed with scary games. One way is to set limits on the amount of time their children spend playing these types of games. Additionally, parents can encourage their children to engage in other activities such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with friends and family. It is also important for parents to have open and honest conversations with their children about their gaming habits and to address any concerns they may have.

4. Are scary games appropriate for all ages?

Answer: The appropriateness of scary games for all ages varies depending on the individual child and their level of maturity. Some children may be able to handle scary games with no problem, while others may find them too frightening. It is important for parents to consider their child’s age, personality, and maturity level when deciding whether or not to allow them to play scary games. If a child is too young or sensitive, it may be best to avoid these types of games altogether.

5. Can scary games cause long-term effects on a child’s mental health?

Answer: While scary games may not directly cause long-term effects on a child’s mental health, excessive playing of these types of games can lead to negative effects such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, and fear. It is important for parents to monitor their children’s gaming habits and to address any concerns they may have. If a child is experiencing persistent negative effects, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a mental health professional.

Why are kids obsessed with horror?

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