Since 2016, when “Stranger Things” first aired, it has been one of the most talked-about Sci-Fi TV series in recent years. With its nostalgic elements and multiple references, or as they call it, Easter eggs, referring to various pop culture phenomena such as D&D, it has entered many people’s watch lists. But a question remains: despite its protagonists being a friend group of preadolescent kids, “Is ‘Stranger Things’ Appropriate for Kids?”. The short answer is probably that parents should be aware of some of the mature content this TV series portrays if they’re going to let their kids watch it. In our Stranger Things parents guide, we’ll delve into the reasons why this popular series may not be suitable for younger viewers.
What Is “Stranger Things” About?
“Stranger Things” is an exhilarating mix of ’80s nostalgia, supernatural mystery, and heartfelt adventure, set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. It starts with the mysterious disappearance of young Will Byers, unraveling a series of events involving his friends, a girl with psychokinetic powers named Eleven, and local adults like Will’s mom Joyce, and the caring police chief Hopper. They uncover secret government experiments and a parallel dimension called the Upside Down, home to eerie creatures and strange landscapes. The show skillfully combines personal dramas with supernatural elements, flavored with a heavy dose of ’80s culture, from music to fashion.
As the series progresses, it delves deeper, exploring Eleven’s past and the menacing Upside Down’s connections to Hawkins. The kids, grappling with typical teenage challenges, also face growing supernatural threats. New characters add fresh dynamics, while the plot expands into Cold War espionage with a Russian subplot.
Throughout “Stranger Things” seasons, it remains a compelling tale of friendship, resilience, and battling otherworldly dangers. It’s more than a sci-fi horror series; it’s about growing up, the power of connections, and facing the unknown. With its blend of humor, heart, and nostalgia, set against a backdrop of extraordinary events, the show continues to be a captivating journey through a world where the extraordinary meets the everyday.
What Others Say: Is “Stranger Things” for Kids?
The show’s protagonists are mostly kids and teenagers, but its heavy material, combined with its use of jump scares and horror elements, may worry some parents. Then, is “Stranger Things” appropriate for kids? The show’s current age rating is TV-14, which means it’s not suitable for children under the age of 14. However, outside the US, some countries have rated it as suitable for kids 16 and older.
A quick look at the show’s Common Sense Media page shows that parents should not be really worried about sexual references. Although there is kissing and some very brief sexual encounters, most of the show’s references to sex and nudity are just references these kids make about dating, flirting, and other stuff.
Although the show is filled with a lot of role models, e.g., parents who are genuinely concerned about their children and feel responsible, or kids who look after each other even in the face of scary monsters, other aspects of the characters are at best iffy. The show’s characters, including the kids and teenagers, use a lot of strong language that some parents might be concerned about. And there’s moderate usage of alcohol and drugs during the series.
However, the main thing that is concerning about the show, probably the thing that was conducive to the current “Stranger Things'” age rating in some countries, is the amount of violence and gore present in the series. The series is filled with violent eerie monsters that happen to kill some of the characters in the show in the most gruesome ways. Broken limbs, gushing blood, and even bodies turning into gooey monsters are just some of the examples in the show.
What We Think: How Old Should You Be to Watch “Stranger Things”?
I know, the show’s young protagonists may make you think that it’s fun entertainment for kids at home, but the gore and violence are definitely something to think about when deciding to let your children watch this series. One study highlights that scary movies and media can have a long-lasting impact, with a significant number of individuals carrying anxiety from these experiences into their adult lives.
It’s important to remember that the show is a bit indecisive about the way it wants to portray violence. In some scenes that involve deaths and injuries, there are only implications about violence and gore. However, in other scenes, especially in the later seasons, there are graphic portrayals of death. For instance, the first episode of the fourth season shows a girl hovering in the air with each body part breaking one by one and her eyes popping inside until she’s dead.
The language and other behavior seen by the show’s kids and teenagers are also something parents might want to think about. The strong language and drug and alcohol use become a bit of a more serious issue in this series because sometimes they come from the kids and teenagers of the show. Besides the typical f-words and middle fingers flung around by the show’s younger characters, you also see things like underage drinking and suggestions of cocaine use.
Is “Stranger Things” appropriate for 11-year-olds? No, definitely not, but as your kids get older, you can think of letting them watch this amazing show. Based on the knowledge you have about your children and their ability to fathom scary scenes and understand that it’s not okay to replicate some of the things the characters do in the show, you may even let your child watch it before the recommended age of 14. But it seems that 14 is a more assuring age to let your kids watch that.
There’s a lot of talk around this series, so even if you don’t want your child near anything “Stranger Things” related, they might hear some things online and want to watch it on their mobile phones and laptops. You can make use of things like iPhone parental controls or parental control on TVs to limit what they may encounter, but our Stranger Things parents guide also recommends utilizing tools like Safes to help monitor and regulate your child’s viewing habits effectively. Safes, a parental control app, allows you to monitor what your child is seeing online and do tasks like blocking apps entirely, blocking URLs, and filtering keywords from web searches. You can download Safes on iOS and Android.
As we conclude our Stranger Things parents guide, let’s summarize the key points to consider about the series’ suitability for a younger audience. Despite its young protagonists, the role models, and the values it promotes, “Stranger Things” is, at the end of the day, a horror TV series filled with scary monsters and gory deaths. The use of strong language in the show, along with the factors previously discussed, are important considerations for parents deciding whether this series is suitable for their child to watch. We hope that this guide will help you in making an informed decision about this.