The effects of superheroes on children are significant. Superheroes are powerful, costume-cladiXAdorned in attire corresponding to a time, place, or social status fictional characters who protect the world from evil. Children are often captivated by these fictional characters because of their supernatural abilities. They may develop adoration for their favorite superheroes and relate to their actions and habits. Hence, young children are frequently seen imitatingiXTo behave in a similar way to someone or something or to copy the speech or behavior of someone and being affected by their favorite superheroes.
It is important to take an active interest in learning about your child’s favorite superheroes since they play an important part in their development (1). This post will assist you in comprehending the role of these superheroes in molding the lives of children.
What Do Superheroes Do?
Superheroes are powerful and inspiring fictional entities who fight for justice and protect the innocent. While some have superhumaniXPossessing or displaying unusual talent or abilities tendencies, such as super-speed, ability to fly, laser visioniXAbility to fire from eyes , and great strength, others do not have any superpowers but are strong, virtuous, courageous, intelligent, and trained to fight.
Superheroes are selfless and defend good, innocent, and pure lives. Despite extreme obstacles, they find the strength to persevere and triumph and instill faith and hope in humanity. Even with extraordinary powers, they are humble and righteous. They are the torchbearersiXA person who motivates or inspires others to work towards an objective of justice and show us that good always prevails over evil. With great power comes great responsibility, which they happily shoulder and yet remain generous and modest.
How Do Superheroes Help Children Inculcate Values?
Superheroes inspire children with their good qualities and help them become better individuals.
Dr. Lance Garrison, a pediatric psychologist and campus dean for the Dallas campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, says, “Superheroes can be a positive influence on children, as they often embody qualities such as bravery, compassion, and a strong sense of justice. Some children may find comfort in the idea of a hero who can overcome challenges and protect the innocent, especially if they feel vulnerable or powerless in their own lives. However, it’s important for children to understand that superheroes are fictional characters and that real-life problems should be addressed in a more realistic and appropriate way.”
1. They act as role models
Children look up to their favorite people and follow their behavior, ethics, and decision-making skills. It is essential to have positive role models who evoke admiration to cultivate the development of good traits. Superheroes can be good role models as they teach children various attributes such as courage, honesty, humility, fighting spirit, sense of responsibility, and leadership. Therefore, exposing children to admirable characters who embody positive morality is important.
Stephen F. Dennstedt, an author and blogger, fondly recollects his childhood aspirations, “From the time I was a young kid, I always wanted to be a superhero. My first childhood idols were television cowboys, frontiersmen, and comic book bigger-than-life heroes: Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Davy Crockett, Batman, and of course Superman (i).”
A perfect example of humility is Superman. He is so powerful that he can rule the world, yet he chooses to help people and works as a reporter to earn money. Children can learn such traits and follow them in life.
2. They help build confidence
Superheroes have the confidence and strength to face anything that comes their way. After watching them, your child may also start believing that nothing is impossible, which can boost their self-confidence (4). If your child is reticent or has low self-confidence, exposing them to the fantastic world of superheroes may help them come out of their shell and encourage them to face the world with a revitalized sense of empowerment.
3. They instill compassion
Superheroes embody heroism as they protect the needy and the innocent. Being exposed to this superhero trait will teach children the importance of compassion and inspire them to help people who need support (5).
4. They educate children about right and wrong
Superheroes fight for what is right and ethical. Following their footsteps can help children understand the difference between right and wrong and motivate them to follow the righteous path (2).
5. They show that anyone can change the world
While Spider-Man is a superhero who jumps from high-rises and attacks his enemies using webs, he is also the ordinary Peter Parker, who struggles with everyday teenage issues at school. All superheroes have a regular life apart from their superhuman life. It will help your children understand that anyone can be a superhero, and they too can make a difference in the world. If your child has anxiety or fear issues, following a superhero can make them feel empowered (6).
6. They teach teamwork
What do Avengers, Justice League, X-Men, and Fantastic Four have in common apart from their superpowers? They are superhero teams who teach children about the importance of teamwork. All team members respect each other’s opinions and capabilities while collectively working towards the common goal (3).
7. They educate about courage and willpower
Superheroes keep pushing themselves till they reach the end goal, even if the odds are against them. A perfect classic example is Iron Man. At the end of Avengers, Iron Man takes the missile and goes into the wormhole alone to destroy the alien invaders. Facing the entire army of aliens single-handedly requires supreme courage and willpower. As children grow up, they have to face many various challenges. Having courage and willpower can help them tackle these challenges with ease, emerge victoriously and help them succeed (5).
8. They teach the importance of sacrifice
Fighting for the greater good without any selfish motives is the motto followed by all superheroes. Children who idolize superheroes can learn this valuable virtue from them and become less self-centered and more generous (3).
9. They inspire to make healthier life choices
Superheroes fight the bad guys because they have the strength. Children would want to be powerful like their favorite superhero, so they will be motivated to make healthy food and exercise choices.
10. They teach it’s not necessary to be the lead
Robin is Batman’s sidekick and doesn’t always lead from the front. However, his role is important too. It teaches children that they can be successful and influential even by not leading from the front and that it is equally rewarding to work as a team member and support your friends.
Probable Negative Impacts Of Superheroes On Children
Dr. Garrison opines, “Some superheroes may cause harm in their efforts to protect others, either accidentally or because they believe it is necessary to achieve a greater good. Others may use their powers in ways that are selfish or misguided, causing harm to those around them. So, it’s important for parents to monitor their children’s media consumption and discuss with them the difference between fantasy and reality.”
While superheroes have strong positive influences on your child’s life, they might negatively affect your child too. Knowing the harmful effects of superheroes on your child can help you show your child the right (7).
11. May put the children at the risk of injuries
Children who are enamorediXFull of affection towards someone or something by superheroes might try to emulate them and imitate risky stuntsRisky actions, such as jumping from a height, climbing, or playing with sharp tools, might cause serious injuries (8).
12. May distort the concept of reality
The world of superheroes is exciting and fascinating. Children may imagine being a part of this fantastic world. Role-playing their superheroes may cause them to believe that the world of superheroes is real. With this, there are chances they might disconnect from reality and lose themselves in the imaginary world (7).
13. May cause children to develop a superiority complex
Watching superheroes being all mighty may cause children to develop an inflated sense of self. They may start personifying the superhero and believe they are superior compared to others.
14. May cause violent behavior
Superhero movies tend to show a lot of violence. Children have impressionable minds and quickly pick up what they see on screen. So, they might start believing that being violent is the correct approach to achieve your targets. Seeing their favorite superhero fighting might cause them to exhibit violence too (6).
15. May cause aggression
“That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.“– The Hulk.
Children consider superheroes their role models and assess their behavior and actions to be right. So watching their favorite superheroes getting angry and indulging in violence could make them act the same way. It’s important to approach such actions with caution since adulation of such behavior can have adverse effects on impressionable young minds.
16. May not be child-friendly
10+ Superhero Movies For Kids
Not all superhero movies are children-friendly, so it is essential to monitor the content your child is exposed to. Here is a list of a few movies that you can let your child enjoy without any reservations.
1. The Incredibles (Age 7+)
The entertaining computer-animated superhero flick depicts a world that has turned against superheroes due to collateral damages caused by them. A suburban family of superheroes is forced to hide their powers and live life as ordinary humans due to the government’s mandates.
Mr. Incredible resents this mundane life and seeks adventure. When he sets out on an adventure and gets in trouble, the other family members are forced out of retirement to save him. The movie depicts many positive values, including teamwork, courage, and family bonding, making it a must-watch for children.
2. Sky High (Age 8+)
The movie is about a teenager who has superhero parents and attends a school for superheroes. The film shows his struggle to cope with his newfound powers and parental and public pressure to perform. It is worth watching for the many fun sequences and the twist in the end.
3. The Powerpuff Girls: The Movie (Age 6+)
The film features a powerful plot about young girls saving the world. An extension of the TV series of the same name, the movie narrates how Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup obtained their superpowers. The climax features their fight against evil monkey Mojo Jojo to save the world. It has many important lessons about teamwork, respect, kindness, and family values.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Age 10+)
The Marvel and Sony collaboration movie shows Spider-Man’s struggle to balance high school and be a superhero. He is up against a formidable enemy, Vulture, who threatens everything he loves. The film teaches many essential lessons, including the need to have courage, perseverance, and shoulder responsibility. After guest-starring as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker.
5. Megamind (Age 6+)
The movie is a unique take on the age-old superhero versus super villain battle. A genius super villain, Megamind, defeats the superhero Metro Man after a big fight and then starts feeling purposeless. So, he creates another opponent to keep his life exciting.
However, this new opponent decides that being bad is better than being good. This forces Megamind to become a good guy and save the planet. Starring Will Ferrell as Megamind’s voice, it’s a funny and exciting film with a beautiful message that the paths we take in life define us.
6. The Lego Batman Movie (Age 7+)
The spin-off Lego movie revolves around Batman. Our lone vigilante superhero Batman is up against a formidable enemy, Joker. But this time, he can’t fight him alone. He has to find a way to work with others and save his beloved city, Gotham. Packed with humor and action, it makes for an entertaining movie for children.
7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Age 9+)
It is the animated version featuring the character of Miles Morales as Spider-Man. Brooklyn boy Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway and transforms into Spider-Man. He thinks he is unique; however, he meets Peter Parker and realizes there are many others like him in alternate universes. Now Miles has to use his superpowers and fight an evil madman with multiple Spider-Men from other places.
8. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (Age 8+)
The animated musical-comedy superhero film is a funny take on superhero movies. The lead character Robin is fed up with watching movies made on all the superheroes except him. Armed with the desire to be in his own superhero flick, he tries every trick in the book to push the movie director to make a movie with him in the lead. However, a super villain threatens to take over the planet, and the Teen Titans need to pull up their socks and defeat this formidable enemy or perish.
9. Superman (Age 8+)
The 1978 movie might be old, but it is a classic that every child should watch at least once. Krypton is on the verge of destruction, so Jor-El sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship to the Earth. He is raised by a farmer couple, Jonathan and Martha. As he grows older, he realizes his powers and decides to use them to fight evil. The special effects in the movie may seem dated, but Christopher Reeves is superb as Superman.
10. Sonic the Hedgehog (Age 8+)
A mad scientist known as Dr. Robotnik turns animals into robots. He discovers an alien blue hedgehog with supersonic speed and plans to use his powers for world domination. Sonic has to defeat Dr. Robotnik and save the Earth from his evil clutches. The movie is based on a video game, so if your children enjoy playing video games, they would love this movie.
11. Batman vs. Two-Face (Age 8+)
The animated film brings comic books to life and is a tribute to the ’60s. The story revolves around the transformation of Harvey Dent into Two-Face and how Batman and Robin stop this super villain from destroying Gotham. It is an action-packed film with a few funny dialogues that will entertain your children.
12. DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis (Age 7+)
Ocean-dwelling thieves, Mera and Siren, steal the powerful Book of Legends from Super Hero High. Now Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Bumblebee, and the other Super Crew members must work together and fight the formidable Mera and Siren to get back the stolen book from the depths of Atlantis.
The movie teaches children that they can do anything they set their minds to. It is also a great movie to help children develop empathy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are my children attracted to superheroes?
Children may be attracted to superheroes because of their strength, courage, persona, attractive costumes, and other backgrounds. All superheroes have an appealing physical appearance and carry unique characteristics that inspire children.
2. What values should superheroes represent?
Superheroes should represent the core human moral values inherent to all. Though their fictional superpowers and other feats may be humanly impossible to replicate, their right action and personality must be inspiring to everyone.
3. What are the essential traits of a superhero?
Some essential traits of a superhero include infallible character, bravery while facing challenges, faith in themselves, responsibility for their actions, and high moral values.
Every child has an ideal superhero that they look up to and are inspired by. There are both positive and negative effects of superheroes on children. Although having a superhero as an idol is beneficial for your child, it is also important that you teach them about when they should come back to real life and draw the line. Superheroes help children build their confidence and teach them the difference between right and wrong. But, on the other hand, some of these movies might not be kid-friendly and instill violence and superiority in them. Thus, it is important that you make children understand the difference between fiction and reality and also inculcate good qualities in them.
You can teach them to focus on qualities more than the persona. However, remember to allow children to be who they are. Let them enjoy superhero play while you continue to keep an eye out for their safety and security.
Infographic: Managing The Influence Of Superheroes On Children
Almost every child may have a superhero they look up to, whose action figure they proudly show off. But children may not know where to draw the line between fiction and reality and start trying some of the hero moves in real life. So try incorporating some tips below to help them engage in a healthy superhero play without interrupting their joy.
- Superheroes act as role models, help build self-confidence, instill compassion, and give children an idea about right and wrong things.
- The possible negative impact of superheroes may include risk of injuries, development of superiority complex, violent behavior, and aggression in some children.
- Sky High, The Incredibles, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Megamind are some of the good superhero movies for children.
Are your kids inspired by superheroes? Learn how to manage their risk-taking behavior in this informative video!
Personal Experience: Source
i. I always wanted to be a superhero.