Screen Violence Harmful to Kids
Jim LiebeltJim Liebelt's Blog
- 2016 Jul 20
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on CNN.
Dead bodies. Bloodied faces. Tears. Terror.
Those are just some of the things that children see when they view news coverage of violent events.
Screen violence -- which includes violence in video games, television shows and movies -- is associated with aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts and angry feelings in children, according to a policy statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Screen violence, particularly when it is real but even if it is virtual, is quite traumatic for children regardless of age," said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute and lead author of the statement.
"It is not uncommon to see increases in nightmares, sleep disturbances and increased general anxiety in the wake of these events. While it is true that the horrific events of this past week can happen at any time, the real risk to individuals remains low," he said. "Children need [that] reassurance."
For the statement, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, Christakis and colleagues reviewed and summarized more than a dozen studies and meta-analyses about the effects of virtual violence and aggression on children's attitudes and behaviors. They defined virtual violence as forms of violence experienced or witnessed virtually on a screen.
After the review, the statement authors made specific recommendations for doctors, parents, the media industry and policy makers to better prohibit easy access to violent media for young children.
"Parents should be mindful of their children's media diet and reduce virtual violence especially if their child shows any aggressive tendencies," Christakis said.
During a time of much conflict in the news, Christakis advises parents to reassure their children that there are still mostly good people in the world. He recommends that parents show children stories of people helping each other, and not hurting each other.
The statement authors also called for the federal government to oversee the development of its own media rating system, rather than relying on the entertainment industry's rating of violent content in video games, movies and television.
"We know from hundreds of studies on thousands of children that there is a link between 'virtual violence' and real-world aggression," Christakis said. "On average, the effect is in what we would deem the small to moderate range, but equivalent to the link between passive smoke exposure and lung cancer -- something that municipalities have reacted to by enacting non-smoking ordinances."