Exposure to violence from TV, movies, music and video games represents a significant risk to the health of children, according to research recently reviewed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The average American child ages 0-6 currently spends two hours a day watching screen media, while 8- to 18-year-old children typically spend more than six hours each day. The presence of a TV set in a child’s bedroom increases the average time spent watching a screen by an hour a day. Images on children’s media are increasingly disrespectful and frequently overtly violent.
The effects of such heavy media exposure to violence for our children are becoming very clear. Homicide, suicide, and trauma are now among the top killers of children in the United States. Violent media directly leads children toward increased aggression, desensitization to violence and fear of being harmed.
Take active steps to protect your child from violent media by:
- Removing TV sets and Internet access from bedrooms. Keep these forms of media within eyeshot of the family living space.
- Helping your child choose appropriate non-violent games, movies and TV shows. Watch them together as much as possible.
- Limiting screen time (except computer time spent directly doing homework) to one hour or less per day, except on special occasions like family movie night or a special sports event.
- Supporting media that show non-violent, educational topics for children.
- Opposing the glamorization of violence, weapons and demeaning behavior in your own home.