Children and Violent TV: Part 3

Dr. Ballas Health Guide
  • In my last blog, I discussed TV violence and aggression in children. Violent media has a small but real effect on the psychiatric health of children. Kids who watch violent media get aggressive immediately after watching it, overall in their childhood, and there is some research that shows prolonged exposure to violent TV as a child increases aggression throughout a person's life. In this blog, I'd like to discuss some other aspects of a child's life that may lead them to be more aggressive, in addition to TV viewing habits.


    Socioeconomic status, intellectual ability, drug and alcohol use, neurologic and medical problems, attitudes about aggression, and several factors in childhood rearing have all been shown to increase aggressive tendencies in children. Parenting style in particular has been the subject of a great deal of research. Harsh punishment, lack of discipline, and a parent who rejects a child have all been shown to increase aggression in children. Research on the behavioral consequence of violent TV viewing by children has been criticized for overemphasizing TV's impact on children when so many other factors are involved. By careful examination of the data, it turns out that even accounting for the factors listed above, violent TV viewing alone still increases aggressiveness in children.

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    Each of these factors has been the discussion of many papers and books, and I may discuss them in future entries, but I wanted to comment on one particular factor now, the effect of gender differences on the impact of violent TV in kids. The children most likely to be aggressive as adults are boys who watch a lot of violent TV and either identify with a violent character or believe TV is showing the world as it really is. The risk of adult aggression from these combinations isn't as high for girls. Also, while all children who watch violent TV are more likely to become more aggressive as adults, boys are more likely to show frank aggression while girls go on to show more indirect aggression. Lastly, girls with aggressive temperaments are slightly more likely to watch violent TV than boys with similar temperaments.


    I hope you enjoyed my discussion of the impact of violent TV on children. I welcome your comments and questions about this topic. It's been said that the current TV climate has a lot do with the development of ADHD in children. A future blog can explore this question in detail.

Published On: October 24, 2007