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Is Media Violence Bad for my Child?


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No matter how hard you try to protect your child from it, violence in the media is unavoidable. As a parent, you are concerned about how it might affect your child’s behaviour, especially when they are spending a substantial amount of time watching television or playing online or console games.

Research has shown that “watching violent entertainment can lead to “increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors,” especially since kids are highly impressionable [1]. It is also said that violent content will lead to desensitization, in which children become more comfortable with what they see on-screen and this in turn affects your children’s moral evaluation of behaviour [3].

Apart from the negative impacts mentioned above, it is also important that you take note of the following information about violent media content:

  • Violent media is not the sole reason a child commits acts of violence in real life. Rather, it is only an amplifier that can make them more vulnerable to becoming violent [2]. There are often other reasons to their violence, such as being a victim of bullying, social isolation or an unstable family environment that can lead to such behaviours.
  • Aggression does not develop immediately. It takes repeatedly exposed to violent media before there can be any serious effects. Only if “these aggressive thoughts and feelings are activated over and over again by repeated exposure to media violence, they become chronically accessible, and thus more likely to influence behavior” [3].
  • Aggression is not limited to physical violence. Aggression can also take other forms such as defiance, cyber bullying and using more aggressive language, not just assaults or other physical crimes.
  • On-screen violence does not affect all children. Just because your children caught a glimpse of violence on television or computer does not mean that they will definitelybe negatively affected. Dr. Michael Rich, co-founder of the Centre on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, noted that some kids who play violent video games show no signs of influence in psychological tests, while others have higher tendencies of turning hostile and physically violent, and feel more anxious and fearful. “The problem is that we don’t know who is going to be affected before they’re affected,” he says [4]. So, don’t be too quick to judge.

While it may seem impossible to eliminate all forms of media violence that your children are exposed to, especially with the prevailing popularity of gore and violence in today’s media, it is definitely possible for you as parents to minimize and manage it.


Know your kids’ media.

Check out ratings and, when there are none, find out about content. Content in a 1992 R-rated movie is now acceptable for a PG-13. Streaming online videos aren’t rated and can showcase very brutal stuff.

Explain the consequences.

What parent hasn’t heard “But there’s no real blood!” as an excuse for watching a movie or playing a video game? Point out how unrealistic it is for people to get away with violent behavior and explain the true consequences of violence.

Keep an eye on the clock.

Do not let your kids spend too long on media that contains virtual violence. The more time spent immersed in violent content, the greater its impact and influence.


Teach conflict resolution.

Most kids know that hitting someone on the head isn’t the way to solve a disagreement, but verbal cruelty is also violent. Teach kids how to stand up for themselves without throwing a punch and by using their words responsibly.

Extracted from: Impact of Media Violence, Common Sense Media[5]


[1] Consensus Near on Violent Media Effects. Retrieved from

[2] What Science Know About Video Games and Violence. Retrieved from

[3] The Effects of Media Violence. Retrieved from

[4] Violence and Media: The Real Effects. Retrieved from

[5] Impact of Media Violence Tips. Retrieved from