Media Violence – Impact on your Child's Behaviour

Nowadays we notice that, aggressive and abusive behaviour in youngsters is increasing at an alarming rate. Parents are seen blaming teachers, school/college authorities, bad company of friends, over pampering grandparents or excessive use of mobile. Outsiders blame parents for either neglecting or over pampering their child. But we are missing out one more reason that could be impacting child’s mind, and that is Media Violence.

Watching violent television programs, television news, playing violent video games, violent images in newspaper or reading age inappropriate books/ news updates, may affect child even if they don’t have a history of aggressive behavior. Many researchers have found that violent media can cause aggressive behavior in child.

Heavy exposure to violent media can also lead to desensitization and parents’ choices about their own media intake can affect child. Looking at all the protest happening or news of terrorism, war or details provided on rape incidences or any other crime can also lead your child to have aggressive behavior. Unfortunately recent incidences happening in India is also causing Anxiety and stress.

You won’t be able to avoid all exposure to violent media. But in your own home, you have a lot of control over what your child watch, see, and play. 

Watch for signs of aggressive behaviour, stress, fear or anxiety. It is typical for a child (and adult) to experience a wide range of emotions, including fearfulness, shock, anger, grief and anxiety after watching a violent event. Your child’s behaviors may change because of their response to the event and may experience.

  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in appetite
  • change in behaviour
  • academic decline
  • difficulty with concentrating

This is normal for everyone and should begin to disappear in a few months.

Things you should do for your kids:

Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news whenever your child is in the house. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes. Your Preschool child doesn’t need to see or hear, they can be frightened by the pictures or listening to them.  Threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.

Keep an eye on the clock. Don’t let child spend too long with virtual violence (Movies or games). The more time they spend immersed in violent content, the greater its impact and influence.

Consider your own reactions. Your child will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. They learn from your actions, if you stay calm and rational, they will, too.

Teach conflict resolution. Most children know that physically hurting someone isn’t the way to solve a disagreement, but verbal cruelty also is violence. Teach kids how to use their words responsibly to stand up for themselves and others.

Encourage your child. Tell them to put their feelings into words by talking about them or journaling. Some child may find it helpful to express their feelings through art.

It may happen that they have absorbed the news independently of you. Well in such case, it’s important to be open to discussing the facts. However, do so in a manner that’s appropriate for their age.

It’s natural for your child to feel anxious, confused and upset when too much media violence is exposed and it can affect some child more than others. If your child seems to have trouble coping with the images he/she has seen or heard, talk to your child’s pediatrician. A physician can assess your child and make appropriate referrals to mental health professionals if needed.

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