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Exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, represents 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.
Consistent and significant associations between media exposure and increases in aggression and violence have been found in American and cross-cultural studies; in field experiments, laboratory experiments, cross-sectional studies, and longitudinal studies; and with children, adolescents, and young adults.
is greater than the association between calcium intake and bone mass, lead ingestion and lower IQ, and condom nonuse and sexually acquired HIV infection, and is nearly as strong as the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer Furthermore, because children younger than 8 years cannot discriminate between fantasy and reality, they may be especially vulnerable to some of these learning processes and may, thereby, be more influenced by media violence.
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. Although shootings in schools around the world periodically prompt 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.
The AAP offers an informational brochure that pediatricians can offer to parents and children to help them use the various rating systems to guide better media choices.