4. Your child seems fearful, anxious, or has night terrors.
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Remember watching movies like Jaws in the local pool or at church camp? Were you able to stay on your floatie or were you anxious to get out of the pool? What about Monsters, Inc.? Did you check your closets or look under the bed? Fear is another result of media violence.
We encountered the fear of Jaws after Cheyenne returned from church camp one summer. She grew anxious at bedtime or if we were spending an afternoon at the lake. After prodding her for some time she finally opened up about watching the movie Jaws in the pool. For two months we talked through her fears and prayed over her every night (after checking under the bed of course).
The Center on Media and Child Health says, “There is a growing body of evidence that today’s constant flow of media messages can produce fear and anxiety in children. Frightening and sensational images on TV, film, social media, and video games can alter a child’s view of the world, affect their sense of well-being, and influence their decision-making."
A 2016 study found those who witness violent movies before bedtime were 13 times more likely to have violent dreams that night. Whether it’s Looney Tunes or Disney, a cast of villains or heroesin the media it can frighten and confuse children. In some cases, these fears or anxieties can last into adulthood.
If your child is anxious, start a conversation. Ask them about media they may find confusing or disturbing. “While it is almost impossible to escape our children being so exposed to violence in the media, it is possible to have positive discussions with them about the value of human life and how destructive and real violence is to the body, spirit, and soul,” says Michelle Neitert, a licensed professional counselor, clinical director and mother of two.
These feelings can also be reduced when parents set limits and introduce rules for media use. The common thread among all the signs that your child may be affected by media violence is what they are watching. As parents, we can help them guard their gates and reduce the effects of media.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Nadezhda1906
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She writes to bring bold truths through raw faith from marriage, career, mental health, faith and relationships, to celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, The Today Parenting Team Blog, For Every Mom, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family.You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com