It is more and more difficult to avoid violent images in our world. We see them on the news, in our movies and TV shows, and in video games on a daily basis. One can only imagine that these strong images and sound bites are effecting our children somehow. So how can we limit exposure in a culture where media is everywhere?
The American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that pediatricians talk with parents about their children’s media exposure at routine check-ups. They also urge parents to limit the content their kids watch as much as possible, especially 3D virtual reality games, which can be very life-like violent experiences.
The Academy is proposing that many studies show too much exposure to media violence is proven to coincide with actual aggressive behaviors. This many not mean physical violence in real life, but can come out as rude tendencies or road rage in teenagers.
The report suggests that parents should join their children when they play video games to make sure the content is not too violent. Children 6 and younger should not be exposed at all to violent media, even in shows as harmless as cartoons.
The leader of the study, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, admits that most children and people will not become violent after seeing a violent movie, but that 2% will show more aggression. When you consider the amount of the population that attends the latest hit action movie, that 2 % can become 400,000 people.
That being said, the study also pleas for the entertainment industry to cease glamorizing violence, especially in movies geared towards children.
Some scholars and scientists disagree with the Academy that the link between the images and the behavior is proven, so there is definitely not a scientific consensus on the matter. But most can agree that parents should know what their kids are watching and the games they are playing, if not only to find out who they are and what they are interested in.
Knowing more about our kids can help us to make sounder decisions about what they are allowed to watch. For instance, an anxious child or one who is more aggressive should maybe not be allowed to play a violent simulation video game, or be allowed to watch the news.
Some violent images on the news can be scary and traumatic for children to see. Very young ones should not be in the room when the news is being watched. By the age of 10, most of them will know and have some understanding of what is going on from all of the media outlets. Doctors and psychologists suggest that parents discuss these images and events with their kids and help to reassure them of their safety. Teenagers can even benefit from a discussion of how to make the world safer and more wonderful.
We may not be able to completely shield our older children from the violence, but we can talk to them about it.