Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the recently published report from The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians about children and teens being influenced by violence in movies - click here.
Many parents are concerned about the findings just published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, linking violence in movies to higher levels of aggression and violent behavior.
Recognizing that many children love violent movies, parents are asking what effect can this movie violence have on their child?
Here are a few important points to keep in mind:
We do know that just seeing a weapon can increase levels of aggression and forceful behavior in certain people—what psychologists call the “weapon effect.” Studies clearly show that violence in movies can increase aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior.
Learning By Example
Watching an entire movie in which glamorous people you identify with or admire use guns may do several things: 1.) increase your comfort level with guns and gun violence, 2.) desensitize you to violent actions and gun violence, and 3.) decrease empathy and understanding for the victims of gun violence. Therefore as parents, it is advisable to limit your child’s exposure to gun violence in the movies.
Who To Watch
However, this finding does not mean that your child is going to automatically become violent if they are exposed to violence in the movies. There are hundreds of mitigating factors that would prevent them from becoming violent including a supportive family, the demonstration of the appropriate use of firearms, and the absence of significant mental health issues. The real vulnerability to violent imagery lies with children who are from neglectful or abusive families, who are bullied and marginalized at school, and who lack substantial psychological coping skills to deal with rejection and failure. These children often feel lost and the images of gun violence restore a sense of empowerment and control that is missing in their lives. These “at risk” kids are the ones we need to worry about.
"Gun Violence In PG-13 Films Tops Levels In R-Rated Movies" in USA Today, 11/11/13
Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians