Teen-agers who have read Harry Potter books or have seen the Harry Potter movie were more likely to have experimented with psychic or occult activities than those teens who had not, a recent study found.

Results from a survey given in late March on teens and the supernatural are still being released by WisdomWorks Ministries, an organization that holds nationwide conferences for teen-agers and parents on “how to view life from God’s perspective.” WisdomWorks is calling the results that have been determined thus far “significant.”

The study revealed that 41 percent of teens have either seen the Potter film or have read one or more of the Potter books. As a result of watching the movie or reading the books, 12 percent said they were more interested in witchcraft.

Mark Matlock, minister with Wisdom Works and commissioner of the study, says there’s a relationship between those who are drawn into the Harry Potter craze and those who have experimented in occult-type activities, not that it necessarily means the Harry Potter influence always causes kids to delve into witchcraft.

It could be, he says, that the teens were already involved with witchcraft and that’s what drew them to the Potter scene, but it could also be that after being exposed to Potter’s wizard-themed books and movie, it intrigued the teens to dabble a bit.

Matlock admits that he lets his two young children watch the Potter movie, but warns that parents must be cautious of media that makes witchcraft seem OK and fun.

“I think that we have to be careful, because some kids are more influenced than others,” he said.

The study, conducted by the Barna Research Group, Ltd., polled 612 teen-agers, ages 13-19. Researchers looked at more than just the influence of Harry Potter on teens. The study also included questions on a variety of different spiritual matters. Matlock says it was interesting to find out how prevalent the supernatural theme was in today’s society. The number of kids who watch supernatural-themed movies or TV shows on a normal basis was very high (86 percent), he says.

According to the research, most kids could not identify who influences them in things relating to the supernatural. Although on all other life issues, Matlock says, the kids labeled their parents as being their No. 1 influence. WisdomWorks plans to help parents become the chief educators when it comes to the supernatural.

The study also showed that 40 percent of teens said there was no such thing as good and evil in the supernatural realm. To see how many teen-agers were dabbling in psychic-occult experimentation, researchers listed a variety of activities and asked teens which ones they had participated in. The list included: palm reading, fortune telling, going to a spiritual medium, calling or visiting a psychic, playing with a Ouija board, playing a game that featured witchcraft elements, participating in a s?ance, trying to cast a spell and trying to mix a potion. One in four teens had experimented with three items on the list; one in 20 had done all the items and met a profile Matlock labeled as “heavily involved.”

Roughly 66 percent of all teens polled had participated in at least one of the occult-oriented activities, says Matlock. Research showed 55 percent of those who said they were youth-group attendees had also tried their hand at one of the experiments. Out of all the teens that had either seen the Harry Potter movie or read the books, 74 percent told researchers they had tried at least one item on the list. Matlock was pleased to find out that only 22 percent of “Evangelical, born-again” teens had experimented with one of the activities.

WisdomWorks plans to continue their Generation Hope conferences for parents and PlanetWisdom conferences for teen-agers, says Matlock, in light of the fact that the study showed that teens based in Evangelical doctrine were “significantly less likely to engage in psychic-occult experimentation.” He wants to teach the teen-agers “God’s truth” when it comes to dipping into witchcraft.

“This is not something to be playing around with,” he said.

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