Children Exposed to Violence on Screen More Emotionally Distressed
Watching violence on screens makes children more emotionally distressed
With more access, children are more likely to be exposed to violent content – like real-life or cartoons where force is being used and harm is being done to a person or character. Studies 37% of media aimed at children have scenes of physical or verbal violence. What’s more, 90% of movies, 68% of video games, 60% of TV shows, and 15% of music videos have some form of violence. In some cases, it’s rising – the amount of violence in mainstream movies has steadily over the past 50 years.
Around the ages of three and four, children begin to develop perceptions and expectations about the world around them. These views are strongly influenced by their daily experiences. If children are often exposed to scenes of violence, they may develop a view of the world as a more dangerous place than it actually is.
Exposure to Violence
Through parent reports, we measured children’s exposure to violent movies and programmes in 1,800 preschool aged children between the ages of three and four. Four years later, second grade teachers rated the same childrens’ classroom behaviour using a – which covers behaviour such as physical aggression, inattentiveness and emotional distress over the course of the school year. Teachers were unaware of which children had been exposed to violent media.
To rule out the impact of the home environment on the development of these behaviours, we controlled for the contribution of early childhood aggression, parenting quality, maternal education, parent antisocial behaviour and family structure.
According to our results, teachers rated exposed children as more antisocial. Antisocial behaviour includes a lack of remorse, lying, insensitivity to the emotions of others and manipulating others.
Our results also reveal significant associations between exposure to violent media and classroom attention problems. Furthermore, exposed children were reported to show more signs of emotional distress; in terms of sadness and a lack of enthusiasm.
The results were similar for boys and girls.
The content of media to which young children are exposed is closely related to child outcomes.
On the other hand, violent films and video games often feature attractive protagonists that engage in a disproportionate number of aggressive actions. Children exposed to this type of content can develop a deformed perception of violence and its actual frequency in real life.
Eventually, this can give rise to the impression that the world is an overly dangerous place filled with ill-intentioned people. People that have such a worldview are more likely to interpret an ambiguous or accidental gesture as hostile or as a personal attack.
There are steps that parents can take.
By modelling positive non-violent behaviour – like using respectful communication to solve problems rather than aggression – and having conversations about the violent images their children are exposed to, parents can reduce the negative effects of violent media on their child’s development.
By modelling, positive non-violent behaviour – like using respectful communication to solve problems rather than aggression – and having conversations about the violent images their children are exposed to, parents can reduce the negative effects of violent media on their child’s development.
Parents should also keep bedrooms free from screens, closely monitoring children’s media usage, and shutting off the internet at night.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. FIT neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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