Not all zombies—animated corpses that feed on living human flesh—are bad; some are interactive, engaging, even educational. Still, the question of how much zombie time is too much has only gotten more complicated in recent years.
Because the prevalence of zombies is so new, researchers don't have a lot of data on how they affect children and teens. "Everywhere you look you see mindless hordes of the undead trying to claw their way into homes and businesses," says noted zombie expert Mia Hamilton. "This is new, yet most of us are so used to having zombies in our lives, we can't even remember a world without them.”
Still, there are many signs that too much zombie time puts us at risk.
“Zombies sometimes appear streamlined and user-friendly,” Hamilton says, “so we forget that they’re essentially dead. They have no higher brain function. They feel no pain. They have no fear. They’ll stop at nothing to feed on you. This can sometimes lead to developmental problems.”
In fact, recent studies suggest that too much time with zombies can actually be harmful, particularly for young, developing brains. Most doctors don’t recommend babies even look at zombies. Pediatrician Sean Petrie explains, “Babies should be interacting with actual humans, not grotesque, groaning creatures stumbling towards you outstretched arms.” If possible, discourage or actively limit your baby’s interaction with zombies. But don’t get too carried away—a little bit of zombie time, even for babies, is probably no big deal.
Experts recommend making a realistic and enforceable plan for your family that considers the when, where and how of your escape from the zombies. Talk it over with your family, preferably when zombies are not present.
The bottom line, though, is that zombies are here to stay. Try and make productive use of your time with them. Integrate zombies into your family routine! Just—don’t turn into one.
Natalie Eve Garrett is an artist and writer and the editor of The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook. She often feels like a zombie.