Fairy tales in the 21st century are being replaced by modern bedtime stories as parents worry that relating them creates false hopes in children. They feel that fairy tales do not give a truthful rendition of life and are unhealthy for a child's development.
A recent poll by babywebsite.com showed that one in four mothers has ditched old classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Two out of 10 parents were also worried that their children would suffer from nightmares because of evil characters in the old tales.
But all is not lost, for of the 3,000 people who voted in the poll, 66 per cent believed that traditional fairy tales have a strong moral message.
Dr Tara Wyne, a clinical psychologist in Dubai, said: "On one level fairy tales can be seen as morality tales, where good prevails over bad. So, children can see and believe in a just and fair world."
"But fairy tales can and do mislead children into believing life is this simple, in black and white," she said.
"Maybe fairy tales set children up for disappointment when unfairness prevails and bad people or bad actions go unpunished."
However, Dr Wyne said that fairy tales do help in child development, especially their capacity to imagine.
"Fairy tales introduce children to fantasy realms and characters and beings that simply don't exist in everyday life. Children's mental development is undoubtedly stimulated by stretching their imagination, by having them wonder about unusual ideas and storylines and by having them experience new thoughts and emotions in response to fairy tales," she said.
One of the things that tend to have an effect on children is the concept of a ‘hero'. Perhaps it might push them to imitate, which could, again, lead to disappointment?
"Children too deeply immersed in the world of fairy tales may grow up with slightly distorted beliefs about how pretty or handsome or amazing you have to be to be happy. And that's why we always tend to teach our children that their happiness is not conditional on their looks or abilities necessarily," Dr Wyne said.
But fairy tales are not all negative stereotypes — they can be positive, helping children to be full of hope, to believe in goodness and to reinforce moral values.
The magical quality of fairy tales can enchant children and result in them loving books and reading — beginning a lifelong relationship with literature.