Violence in the media is an issue surrounded by controversy. Litigation to manage violent content in programming is ongoing. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that by age 18, the average American child will have viewed about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone. For some, there is the concern that children who are inundated with the images of shootings, bombings and rapes will become desensitized to such violent acts and possibly learn to see them as valid responses to life's stresses.
Some research has been done to support the idea that violent thoughts
and behavior increase after exposure to violent films, music, television
or video games. The argument of observational learning--that children
learn by imitating what they see--is at the core of the majority of these
studies. Some children are more able than others to tell the difference
between make-believe and real-life events. Research from Georgetown University's
Psychology Department has suggested that the negative effects on children
exposed to news broadcasts of violent events may traumatic to children.
Caregivers are encouraged to make sensible choices based on an awareness
of individual children's sensitivities, age and developmental level. The
Center for Media Literacy
is a possible resource for parents and educators seeking to think critically
about media exposure.
A variety of interventions are available to parents and educators interested
in monitoring or restricting children's exposure to media violence. Television
and movie rating systems can help guide parents about the content of programming,
and screening software, or v-chips can be used to prevent children from
watching television programs that parents may deem inappropriate.
Media Violence is not a focus of research for the NCCEV, but we ask that those seeking more information examine the listed resources.
- Nearly 3 out 4 eighth graders watch 2+ hours of TV each weekday (Brown, Brett and Bzostek, Sharon. Violence in the Lives of Children. Cross Currents, Issue 1, August 2003. Child Trends DataBank)
- 60% percent of American households have three or more televisions (Kaiser Family Foundation. Kids and Media Fact Sheet. Revised November 2001).
- A third of all 0-6 year-olds (36%) have a TV in their bedroom, more than one in four (27%) have a VCR or DVD, one in ten have a video game player, and 7% have a computer. Thirty percent of 0-3 year-olds have a TV in their room, and 43% of 4-6 year-olds do. ( Kaiser Family Foundation. Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers. October 2003
- Young children (ages two through seven) are less exposed to media violence than older children, but data collected in 1999 show that they still spend more than three hours each day watching television and videos. (Kaiser Family Foundation. (1999). Kids and media at the new millennium: a comprehensive analysis of children’s media use.)
- The National Television Violence Study found that nearly 2 out of 3 TV programs contained some violence, averaging about 6 violent acts per hour. (Kaiser Family Foundation. Key Facts: TV Violence, Spring 2003.)
- Younger children who watched news coverage of the 1991 Persian Gulf War were more disturbed by visual images of planes dropping bombs and people dying, whereas older children and teens were more upset by abstract threats of terrorism and nuclear war or the possibility of the conflict spreading. (Cantor, J., Mares, ML., Oliver, MB. Parents and children’s emotional reactions to TV coverage of the Gulf War. In: Greenberg, B., and Gantz, W. Desert Storm and the Mass Media. Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1993, p. 364-380.)
- Children who watch a lot of TV news tend to overestimate the prevalence of crime and may perceive the world to be a more dangerous place than it actually is. (Smith, S. and Wilson, B. (2002). Children’s comprehension of and fear reactions to television news. Media Psychology 4:1-26.)
- The amount of time spent playing video games varies by age. On average, 2-7 year olds spend 8 minutes a day, 8-13 year-olds spend 32 minutes a day, and 14-18 year-olds spend 20 minutes a day playing video games. (Kaiser Family Foundation. Key Facts: Children and Video Games, Fall 2002.)
- Percentage of television-time children ages 2-7 spend watching alone and unsupervised: 81 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999. "Kids and Media @ the New Millennium.")
- Average time per week that the American child ages 2-17 spends watching television: 19 hours, 40 minutes (Nielsen Media Research, 2000)
- Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70 (Tashman, Billy. "Sorry Ernie, TV Isn't Teaching." New York Times. Nov 12, 1994.)
- Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 (Barber, Benjamin. Harper's. Nov 1993: 41)
- Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1,023 (Nielsen Media Research, 2000)
In the Literature
- Youth Violence: A report of the Surgeon General
Appendix 4-B, Violence in the Media and Its Effect on Youth Violence
- Children, violence, and the media: A report for parents and policy makers
Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Utah , Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, Prepared by Majority Staff, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, September 14, 1999
- The 11 myths of media violence. W. James Potter. Thousand Oaks , CA : Sage Publications, 2003.
- Ill effects: the media/violence debate. Martin Barker and Julian Petley, eds. 2 nd ed. London : Routledge, 2001.
- Killing monsters: why children need fantasy, super heroes and make-believe violence. Gerard Jones. New York : Basic Books, 2002.
- Media violence and children: a complete guide for parents and professionals. Douglas Gentile, ed. Westport , CT : Praeger, 2003.
- Media violence and its effect on aggression: assessing the scientific evidence. Jonathan l. Freedman. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2002.
- Violence in the media. James D. Torr, ed. San Diego , CA : Greenhaven Press, 2001.
- Anderson, Craig A; Berkowitz, Leonard; Donnerstein, Edward; Huesmann, L. Rowell; Johnson, James D; Linz, Daniel; Malamuth, Neil M; Wartella, Ellen. The influence of media violence on youth. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Vol 4(3) Dec 2003, 81-110.
- Funk, Jeanne B; Baldacci, Heidi Bechtoldt; Pasold, Tracie; Baumgardner, Jennifer. Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: Is there desensitization? [Peer Reviewed Journal] Journal of Adolescence. Vol 27(1) Feb 2004, 23-39.
- Rosenkoetter, Lawrence I; Rosenkoetter, Sharon E; Ozretich, Rachel A; Acock, Alan C. Mitigating the harmful effects of violent television. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Vol 25(1) Jan-Feb 2004, 25-47. Elsevier Science, United Kingdom
- Howard, Sharon Ruth JR. Innocent little 30-second tales: How children's food commercials normalize social alienation, violence, crime, and substance use. a content analysis of children's food commercials, 1987--1998. [Dissertation Abstract] Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: the Sciences & Engineering. Vol 63(10-B), 2003, 4964, US: Univ Microfilms International.
- Meyers, Kelly Stephen. Television and video game violence: Age differences and the combined effects of passive and interactive violent media. [Dissertation Abstract] Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: the Sciences & Engineering. Vol 63(11-B), 2003, 5551, US: Univ Microfilms International.
- Slater, Michael D. Alienation, Aggression, and Sensation Seeking as Predictors of Adolescent Use of Violent Film, Computer, and Website Content. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Journal of Communication. Vol 53(1) Mar 2003, 105-121.
- Slater, Michael D; Henry, Kimberly L; Swaim, Randall C; Anderson, Lori L. Violent media content and aggressiveness in adolescents: A downward spiral model. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Communication Research. Vol 30(6) Dec 2003, 713-736.
- Vidal, Miguel Angel; Clemente, Miguel; Espinosa, Pablo. Types of Media Violence and Degree of Acceptance in Under-18s. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Aggressive Behavior. Vol 29(5) 2003, 381-392.
- Cantor, Joanne; Wilson , Barbara J. Media and Violence: Intervention Strategies for Reducing Aggression. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Media Psychology. Vol 5(4) Dec 2003, 363-403.
- Subrahmanyam, Kaveri. Youth and Media: Opportunities for Development or Lurking Dangers? Children, Adolescents, and the Media. [Peer Reviewed Journal] Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Vol 24(3) Aug 2003, 381-387
- Bryant, J. Alison; Bryant, Jennings . Effects of entertainment televisual media on children. [Chapter] Palmer, Edward L. (Ed); Young, Brian M. (Ed). (2003). The faces of televisual media: Teaching, violence, selling to children (2nd ed.). (pp. 195-217). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. xi, 401pp.
- Chavez, Vivian; Dorfman, Lori. Spanish language television news portrayals of youth and violence in California . [Chapter] Torres, M. Idali (Ed); Cernada, George P. (Ed). (2003). Sexual and reproductive health promotion in Latino populations: Parteras, promotoras y poetas: Case studies across the Americas. (pp. 197-213). Amityville, NY, US: Baywood Publishing Co, Inc. xi, 352pp.
- Bushman, Brad J; Cantor, Joanne. Media ratings for violence and sex: Implications for policymakers and parents. [Journal Article] American Psychologist. Vol 58(2) Feb 2003, 130-141.