Limit Kids’ Exposure to Media Violence, Pediatricians Say

Media violence has become a routine part of the daily lives of American children, and parents, lawmakers and the media should take steps to change that, a leading pediatricians’ group recommends.

The new policy statement, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), calls on pediatricians to routinely ask about children’s “media diet,” and for parents to limit the violent content their kids see — whether on TV, online or in video games.

Video gaming is a particular concern, partly because of the advent of 3D technology that creates a “more immersive experience with violence,” said statement author Dr. Dimitri Christakis.

Christakis directs the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

 The policy statement points to a “proven scientific connection” between virtual violence and real-life aggression, the doctors say. Many studies have found such links, Christakis said.

Some media violence experts contend that such a link is far from proven.

However, Christakis noted that “aggression” can include “being rude,” arguing or — for those old enough — driving aggressively.

“With children, actual physical violence is, thankfully, rare,” Christakis said.

But, he added, “aggressive thoughts and feelings do precede violence.”

The policy statement advises parents to: play their kids’ video games with them, so they know exactly what the content is; shield children younger than 6 from all violent media, including “cartoon violence,” and ban “first-person shooter” games altogether.

Christakis acknowledged that most kids will not be turned into violent offenders because of video games or movies. But he pointed to “societal level” effects of widespread media violence.

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