Capturing death in animated films: Can films stimulate parent-child conversations about death?


We present three studies examining death in children’s animated films. Study 1 is a content analysis of 49 films. We found that death is often portrayed in films, but many deaths occurred off-screen. Deaths were mostly portrayed in a biologically accurate manner, but some films portrayed biological misconceptions. Study 2 (n = 433) reports on parents’ attitudes and parent-child conversations about death in films. Children’s questions about death in animated films were similar to their questions about death more generally. Animated films may provide a context for parent-child conversations about death, as parents often watched these films with their children. However, it appeared that few parents took advantage of this opportunity to talk about death with their children.

Cognitive Development, 59, 101063
David Menendez
David Menendez
Postdoctoral Research fellow

My research interests include cognitive development, diagrams, and STEM education