The connection between consuming media violence, whether through books, movies, video games, or television has been long debated and well researched. While there continues to be conflicting evidence, the majority of research shows that certain types of violent media can increase aggressive behaviors in children.
How can media contribute to aggression in children?
Today, there is a general consensus that violent media can contribute to children acting aggressively. The link between media violence and aggressive behaviors is largely due to the following:
- Children (particularly young children) imitate what they see: Studies have shown that young children will imitate the aggressive acts they see being performed on screen.
- Children learn from media that violence is socially acceptable and an effective way to solve problems: Many books, movies, TV shows and video games feature ‘heroes’ who solve crimes through violence and are subsequently praised and loved by society. Children may see their favorite characters’ acts of aggression as justified and internalize that to mean that acting aggressively is acceptable for them as well.
- Desensitization: When children (or adults) see and/or interact with a substantial amount of media violence, they begin to accept aggressive behaviors as normal and are less shocked when they see it both in the media and in real life. Studies have shown that after seeing a lot of media violence, people are less likely to try to stop violence when they see it happen in the real world.
What YOU Can Do
Although violence can be found in many different forms of popular media, limiting how much violent media your children are exposed to can help ensure that they are not learning aggressive behaviors from the movies, video games, books and TV shows they interact with. Here are several suggestions to help you limit your child’s exposure to violent media: