Why do children see the paranormal better than most adults?

The question of children being able to see the paranormal comes up frequently and it seems many people have an opinion on this subject. Unfortunately most of them are incorrect because they look for the quick, simple, easy answer instead of looking into the actual cause. One of the most common responses you will hear is that “Children see ghosts because they haven’t been told they don’t exist yet and a belief system hasn’t been put in place by their parents and society.” While this is partially true, the real answer lies in actual biology.

Part of it is cultural as Western ideas on the existence of ghosts is still hundreds, if not thousands, of years behind other parts of the world. Acceptance in the presence of spirits in places such as Asia and other cultures that have been around far longer than the United States is much greater. As open and modern as the US thinks it is, we are still extremely young and naive as a culture. Oddly enough, this is one of the reasons many people give as to why a child is not seeing a spirit.

Many people claim that children seeing spirits can simply be attributed to a vivid imagination. This is sadly more evidence that we as a culture are simply very young and uninformed. While extremely arrogant as a nation, we are actually just very narrow-minded and naive as a whole.

To chalk up accounts of very young children explaining in great detail about a great-grandmother they not only never met, but never even knew existed is simply not a vivid imagination. Instead of looking into how this can be however, most American’s will slap the vivid imagination tag on the child and move on.

As stated previously, the real reason children (as well as many animals) see the paranormal far better than most adults can may actually be linked to a difference in their biology.

First let’s talk a little about light spectrum’s and where visible spirits are believed to reside within this spectrum. We will only discuss the visible light spectrum and the spectrum’s that fall just below and just above that range.

Visible Light – The light spectrum that we see is actually quite narrow, between 400 and 700nm.

Ultraviolet (UVA) – 400 – 315nm. This range falls just below visible light.

Infrared – 750nm – 1mm. The spectrum just above visible light.

Without getting into boring details, just imagine a bar, visible light is in the center of the bar with UVA to the left and infrared to the right. Remember the numbers above though as they are very important. It is believed by many that your best chance of seeing a spirit is in the ultraviolet (UVA) or infrared (IR) light spectrum’s, just below and just above that of visible sight. It is my personal belief that spirit energy can cross dimensional planes and pop in and out of what we perceive as our reality. I also believe that we can’t see a spirit unless they allow us to. Since they reside in a spectrum or dimension that we can not perceive, they must willingly cross into the very narrow field of view that we are able to detect in order for us to catch a glimpse of them. This doesn’t happen by accident. This is why people that are open to the existence of ghosts see them more often than people who are close-minded. If they know you can see them, they will show themselves to you far more often.

Our reality consists of 3 basic dimensions that we can detect: length, width and depth. A fourth dimension we perceive is also present, we call this time. Are there more than these 4 dimensions? Some mathematicians theorize that there may be as many as 10 or more. This provides plenty of room for them to hide or remain undetected most of the time.

UV or IR differs only in that there are some specialized cells in the retinas of our eyes (opsins) that contain a pigment that gets excited when it encounters these wavelengths. Cats, for example, have a pigment that gets excited at shorter wavelengths, so they see a little bit into the UVA range. UV (in humans) is largely absorbed by retinal tissue before it can trigger reactions in these opsins.

This is extremely important: Very young children can see 380nm, which puts them into the UV range (sub 400nm), where elderly people cannot see 400nm; so the ‘visible range’ changes even for humans depending on our age. We start off being able to see more than we can as we get older. This is based on a gradual degradation of the rods and cones in our eyes. As with most things, the more you use it, the more it will eventually wear out.

When I ask most people if they have ever seen a ghost they usually say no. However, I believe this is due to what they perceive a ghost should look like. Hollywood leads you to believe that a ghost appears as a human with lack of color that you can see through. While I have seen many apparitions that do fall under this category, the most common ghosts I see resemble more of a dark shadow that is darker than the darkness surrounding it. The best way to explain this is you’re in a very dark room and you see something darker than even the darkest spot in the room, and it’s usually moving very quickly as well.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I saw something out of the corner of my eye, but as soon as I looked directly at it, it was gone?” As John Kachuba states in his book “Ghost Hunting Ohio”:

“There is a thin band around the outer edge of the cornea that is sensitive to some degree of infrared light.  That outer ring constitutes our peripheral vision, so if ghosts inhabit the infrared range, it would make sense that they would best be seen peripherally, that is, from the corner of our eye.”

So as your peripheral vision catches sight of a dark object or movement, as you turn your head and focus your vision to the front of your eyes, you lose sight of what you detected. Add to this the fact that spirits can move at an insane rate of speed at times and I’m willing to bet you’ve seen more ghosts than you realize.

Since this is also somewhat related, let me give you another answer to a common question. “Why can my digital camera/camcorder pick up things that I myself didn’t see?”

Simply put, most modern digital cameras/camcorders come equipped internally with what is called an IR cut-filter. This filter blocks out IR light waves. If your camera/camcorder does not have this cut-filter (such as a camcorder with Sony NightShot™), the visible range the camera can detect (infrared) is between 400 – 1100nm. So you’re seeing the entire visible light spectrum and well into the infrared. The digital camera that we use also does not have this filter so can also ‘see’ into this IR range when taking still pictures as well. By adding an infrared light source we light up an area with light that is invisible to us but very visible to the camera, thus avoiding ever using a flash, even in a pitch black room.

So the next time a child tells you he or she saw something, take a moment to realize that they can actually see into the ultraviolet light spectrum (sub 400nm). Not much, but enough to see things that you simply can’t. Instead of telling them that they didn’t see what they saw, ask them to tell you about it and encourage them to always be honest and open with what they experience in life. If not, you simply raise another child to become one of the naive adults that other much older cultures look at and simply shake their heads.

Thanks to Gene Lafferty and Wikipedia for some of the above information.

35 thoughts on “Why do children see the paranormal better than most adults?

  1. Yes, children’s eye lenses change with age: ~75% of UV radiation will pass through the lenses in kids less than 10 years of age, compared with 10% in those older than 25 years. In old age, it is less than 1%. Sand, snow, and water are major environmental sources of reflected UV light. Snow reflects about 85% of UV radiation, about 3x more than any other environmental surface and is the primary cause of snow blindness. However, grass reflects only 1% or 2% of UV radiation. Thus, an environment with lots of green foliage significantly reduces the amount of reflected UV radiation the eye receives.

  2. That’s pretty creepy. From the corners if my eye,s i often see like a dark shadows but i automatically assume its a string of my hair in the way (i have dark brown almost black hair). I think to myself “it’s just my hair.” I do remember seeing dark figures and faces when i was really young.

  3. Very Informative Article . All Non-Beleivers should read this.
    btw may i know the model number of your sony nightshot camcorder that u mentioned. and its price.
    and also where would i get the Infrared Light source.
    coz i was thinking of trying it myself . I hope they aren’t that expensive . Im from Asia by the way.
    pls do reply . Thanx

    • I own 3 Sony NightShot Handycams. Two are Mini DV and one is Hi 8. I don’t know the models #’s offhand because they are in storage and I now use a full spectrum camcorder and haven’t used the Sony’s in a long time. IR lights I would suggest ordering from PhantomLites.com

      Thanks for the comment.

      P.S. I purchased 2 Sony camcorders used off of Amazon and 1 off of Craigslist.

  4. Very interesting. My 13 old daughter sees spirits all the time. This started when she was 6yo and just started again at 13 but is getting worse by the day. I am trying to make sense of it for her. Now they come to her in her dreams as well.

  5. Hi
    My son who is 7, a few years ago saw the bottom half of someone walking in our hall way. He says he has seen his grandfather a few times, and if he has a bad dream, his grandfather calms him down. Our dog passed away, 3 days later he saw him floating near the ceiling. Today, 26th April 2013, he was playing in his room, when he saw a man standing in the door way looking straight at him. He vanished, my son ran into the next room where he was standing again then vanished. My son screamed for his mom.
    I questioned him about it, and he was very serious about it. He described the man being in a brown suit, brown eyes with dread locks.
    Another thing my son does, we think of a number, and he guesses the number!
    What do you make of this.
    Look forward to your response.
    Kindest Regards

    • It sounds like he may be highly intuitive. I would recommend encouraging his gifts as opposed to pushing them away which many (if not most) parents do. It’s unfortunate when someone is born with a gift that is then smothered by family, friends or society. Your child can see these things for a reason.

  6. i started seeing them when i was a young girl. mom laughed at me, toldme they were not real, ect n soforth. as the years gone by, i started seeing them more, including premonetions ect. i am now in my mid 30s and i still see them pretty often as does my daughter. it a commonthing with us. i ca see how the uv light theory would have something to do with our abality to see spirits, but i also believe its genetic in many cases.

    • I didn’t want to get into the whole psychic/medium/sensitive/intuitive aspect with this article and tried to keep it based solely on known biological differences between children and adults. You are correct though in that there are other factors involved, especially once you reach adulthood.

  7. Wow! Great information! My son said he’s seeñ his grandma (my mother) and we were curious about how children see spirits and adults do not

  8. Hi, do you have a reference for the information where children can see a different range of light? I can’t find a source for it anywhere. I’m super interested in looking further into this. Thanks.

  9. Great article. My Son says he sees a man with a camera. He says he thinks he is the owner of the house. Which is weird. At times he will tell me where he is and will see his deceased grandmother in our house from time to time. Good Article.

  10. This is fantastic, I am a firm beliver in the paranormal after several experiences. Am I ok to use this article in my EPQ for college? I writing a small book on why children have similar fears and looking at possible causes for said fears. This article is very informative! :)

    • Thank you Gina. Of course you can use whatever you like. I would suggest adding some more stuff from others as well since a lot of my information came from research and some from personal experience.
      Have a great day.

  11. I saw a being made up of bright light, it had a vague humanoid shape with no features, it had a outline of grayish/black and an even brighter encompassing light that had energy tendrils about 4 feet long all around it, (kinda like the energy in a plasma globe). I was 8 at the time, that was 21 years ago. I can’t say I believe in ghosts but I do believe their are life forms beyond our understanding, after all, most people can only see 0.000.1% of the light spectrum. ^_^

  12. I have seen ghost all of my life. The ones that I can remember count up to 130, but the ones that I fell are too many to number. When I see a apparition at the corner of my eye I do not try to look at it straight on. I instead keep my peripheral vision on it. It seems to move a lot slower until it discovers that I am watching it, then it moves too fast to keep up with. Sometimes it will move very fast then in second or two I will feel an energy all around me or just at one side. I have been doing this for 30 years now. Spooks the hell out of people.

    • Thank you for sharing and for validating what I said regarding our peripheral vision. I also have trained myself not to turn my head. It’s difficult as it’s instinctual to turn and look but if you don’t, like you said, you can see them. Thanks again for taking the time to read the article and comment.

  13. Facinating. I only directly remember seeing ghost 1 or 2 times in my life (I’m 16 btw) but I do have one really weird story,my mother told me that ever since I could even talk I have always been “looking for my tools”. Also, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an achitect. This is really weird because my grandfather was also an achitect/ electrician and he died when I was about 2 years old. I only found out he was an achitect when I was 6 or 7 years old.

    There was also a time when I was about 4 and I ran into the dining room for something (I cant remember for what) andin the hallway I tripped on something on the floor. I looked back and there was nothing I could possibly trip on and I know I felt something trip me.

  14. Me and my mum can see and talk to ghosts, my dad just waves it by like we are crazy. For us seeing ghosts happens at the wrongs times and we normally have to check again; I started seeing ghosts at the age of 5 before i could see them clearly. I just love talking to the lost ghosts and helping them but they stay lost. I wonder if someone in my family will be able to see all of the spirit plains like animals can.

  15. I may not be able to see the spirits, but I can feel them and have contacted a few. It’s really weird but sometimes I can feel something brush against my arm then it’s gone. I do know if u look directly at them they seem to vanish but they are in between our deminchen and theirs; therefore when we look directly at them we cannot see the. But if u look out of the corner of your eye u can them. Kewl hu!

  16. I was wondering what you know, or have opinion on, in regards to “harmful” spirits. You see…my friend and I live together, and down a bit from our house, still on our property, there is a small run down farm house for hen storage. This has a second level that is locked with two padlocks that we were told NOT to open by the landlord, who lives in Hawaii. He refuses to answer any questions regarding it. It has a window on the far side that is boarded shut from the inside, but on more than one occasion, while we’re smoking out back, this board has fallen down making a crack. The odd aspect is, it has fallen to this position several times, and somehow found its way back to the closed, nailed position without any interference from me or our absent landlord. After about then tenth time, we decided to camp out back with two other friends in a tent. At about midnight, we heard footsteps outside, and a shadow appeared against the moonlight. We sight silently, staring at it, unwilling to move or make a sound, worrying it was an intruder or something. For about four hours it stood there, just watching. It then turned to the side, and walked off. When we stepped out to see what happened, there was no one to be seen anywhere. No footsteps in the dirt either. The following night, we decided to use a ouija board to see if it would speak to us. We asked three questions. The first was the standard “is there is a spirit here.” from which we got a yes. The second was, “Can you reveal yourself?” again we got a yes. The third was “Do you wish us harm?” the lense jumped back to yes a third time with significant force. We asked a forth question “what is your name?” but we got gibberish: “xsqqt” Since then, the board hasn’t fallen again, but we still hear footsteps outside frequently, though cameras and neighbors never report having seen anyone. I’m genuinely frightened to stay in my own house now.

  17. My brother was down syndrome, he lived in my parents house, he used to sit in the same place in the middle of the floor for years looking at his space books, he died in 1991, in 1992 I bought the house from my mother. We had a child in 1994, when he was 2 he used to point to where my brother used to sit and say man on floor. Obviously this spooked my wife and I but later put it down to children being more receptive to spirits than adults. When my son was around 14 he announced one day that a ghost follows him everywhere he goes, he even named him Fred. My son is now 21, we moved to a big old house in Beverley East Yorkshire, ever since moving there my son has seen numerous ghost around the house, Fred is still with him, my son thinks that Fred is my down syndrome brother, my son says that one of the ghosts in the house is quite aggressive, he says that Fred protects him against this ghost, Is there anyone my son can talk to, he must feel fairly alone with this.

  18. I saw and heard things as a kid but at one point, maybe before I was a teenager, I changed my way of thinking and it stopped. A lot of it had to do with recurring nightmares, which stopped as well, but I recall seeing small people watching me, one even blocked my way out of the bathroom, or things floating and doing flips in the darkness. As a result, I avoid anything spiritual. My brother showed me a book which included very odd shapes but the first page I looked at made my head start to spin and I felt nauseated afterwards. Does this sound like anything you’ve encountered? I really haven’t thought about, or investigated, it too much because I don’t want any of what I experienced as a kid to come back. I’m 29 now btw.

  19. Very interesting article that makes complete sense to me now. When I was 4 yrs old (I’m now 49) we lived in a haunted house. I seen ( and heard) ghosts. At the time, I just thought it was people in the house since I never heard of ghosts or spirits at the age of four. I saw a women in a white wedding dress and also played with children in the house. When I told my parents, we moved. It wasn’t until I was a teenager when I began to ask about the house. It was then I learned that my dad would feel a strong presence behind him only to turn around and find no one behind him. I also learned my parents would hear footsteps at night and swear someone was in house, only to check and find no one. Maybe this article explains why my parents had paranormal experiences but never actually SAW ghosts, however, I did. Thanks for article, after 45 yrs I’m still searching for answers.

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