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The american psychological associations warning on televisions effects on children

Download PDF Abstract The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, as a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents. Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. Pediatricians should assess their patients' level of media exposure and intervene on media-related health risks.

Pediatricians and other child health care providers can advocate for a safer media environment for children by encouraging media literacy, more thoughtful and proactive use of media by children and their parents, more responsible portrayal of violence by media producers, and more useful and effective media ratings.

Studies of the Effects of TV Violence

Although recent school shootings have prompted politicians and the general public to focus their attention on the influence of media violence, the medical community has been concerned with this issue since the 1950s. When simultaneous use of multiple media is accounted for, that exposure increases to 8 hours a day. It has been estimated that by age 18, the average young person will have viewed 200 000 acts of violence on television alone. They are age based, which assumes that all parents agree with the raters about what is appropriate content for their children of specific ages.

Furthermore, different ratings systems for each medium television, movies, music, and video games make the ratings confusing, because they have little similarity or relationship to one another. The AAP offers an informational brochure that pediatricians can offer to parents and children to help them use the various ratings systems to guide better media choices.

More than 3500 research studies have examined the association between media violence and violent behavior; all but 18 have shown a positive relationship. Children are influenced by media—they learn by observing, imitating, and making behaviors their own. Aggressive attitudes and behaviors are learned by imitating observed models.

Serious explorations of violence in plays likeMacbeth and films like Saving Private Ryan treat violence as what it is—a human behavior that causes suffering, loss, and sadness to victims and perpetrators.

  • Pediatricians should advocate for simplified content-based media ratings to help parents guide their children to make healthy media choices;
  • We also have to consider that the low score on aggressive behavior possibly is related to the fact that the youths from "low income" families in this category are less accident-prone to "aggressive behavior" between age sixteen and age twenty-two — and probably already at an earlier age — compared to their peers spending more time watching television;
  • For the other they may be from poor but religious families with faith and conviction keeping them away from watching television as well as from aggression;
  • In 1982 the National Institute of Mental Health 1982 warned parents:

In this context, viewers learn the danger and harm of violence by vicariously experiencing its outcomes. Sophisticated special effects, with increasingly graphic depictions of mayhem, make virtual violence more believable and appealing. Studies show that the more realistically violence is portrayed, the greater the likelihood that it will be tolerated and learned.

Early studies of these rapidly growing and ever more sophisticated types of media indicate that the effects of child-initiated virtual violence may be even more profound than those of passive media, such as television. Video games are an ideal environment in which to learn violence. They place the player in the role of the aggressor and reward him or her for successful violent behavior.

Rather than observing part of a violent interaction, video games allow the player to rehearse an entire behavioral script, from provocation, to choosing to respond violently, to resolution of the conflict.

Moreover, video games have been found to be addictive 67 ; children and adolescents want to play them for long periods of time to improve their scores and advance to higher levels. Repetition increases their effect.

Television violence is fully harmless

Interpersonal violence, as victim or as perpetrator, is now a more prevalent health risk than infectious disease, cancer, or congenital disorders for children, adolescents, and young adults. Homicide, suicide, and trauma are leading causes of mortality in the pediatric population, resulting in cumulative death rates of 22. The AAP offers the following recommendations: Pediatricians should incorporate a media history 76 into annual health maintenance examinations and, as with seat belts and bicycle helmets, suggest healthy alternatives, such as sports, creative pursuits, interactive play, and reading, for children at risk.

When heavy media use by a child is identified, pediatricians should evaluate the child for aggressive behaviors, fears, or sleep disturbances and intervene appropriately. Pediatricians and other child health professionals should ensure that only nonviolent media choices be provided to patients in outpatient waiting rooms and inpatient settings.

Movies, video games, and print media should be prescreened, and broadcast television should be filtered through a v-chip before being made available to young patients.

On a local level, pediatricians should encourage parents, schools, and communities to educate children to be media literate as a means of protecting them against deleterious health effects of media exposure. Research has demonstrated that media education and thoughtful media use can reduce violent behavior in children. Because leading researchers now state that the link between media violence and aggressive behavior is undeniable, 83 public health, psychology, and communications investigators should focus future research efforts on effective social, artistic, and clinical interventions to mitigate the harmful effects of media exposure.

Pediatricians should advocate for more child-positive media, not censorship. Pediatricians should support and collaborate with media producers, applying our expertise in child health and development toward creating child-friendly and truthful media. Avoid the glamorization of weapon carrying and the normalization of violence as an acceptable means of resolving conflict. Eliminate the use of violence in a comic or sexual context or in any other situation in which the violence is amusing, titillating, or trivialized.

Eliminate gratuitous portrayals of interpersonal violence and hateful, racist, misogynistic, or homophobic language or situations unless explicitly portraying how destructive such words and actions can be. If violence is used, it should be used thoughtfully as serious drama, always showing the hurt and loss suffered by victims and perpetrators.

Music lyrics should be made easily available to parents so they can be read before deciding whether to purchase the recording. Video games should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others. Play of violent video games should be restricted to age-limited areas of gaming arcades; the distribution of videos and video games and the exhibition of movies should be limited to appropriate age groups.

Pediatricians should advocate for simplified content-based media ratings to help parents guide their children to make healthy media choices.

Media Violence

A new child- and family-friendly rating system that describes media content in several areas violence, language, sex, nudity, etc is needed so parents can align their children's media exposure to their personal values. Just as it is important that parents know the ingredients in food they may feed to their children, they should be fully informed about the content of the media their children may use. Committee on Public Education, 2000—2001 Miriam E.