Media violence has been a controversial topic for decades. There are contradictory findings from a variety of studies, some showing no effect on people’s real-world aggression, and some showing a significant connection.
On balance, it makes sense to me that what we consume and are exposed to–whether it’s unhealthy food, environmental contaminants, poisoned relationships, or violent images–make a difference to our health, well-being, and behaviour. If this is true for adults, how much truer must it be for children? And the younger the child, the more true it will be.
In this article, the authors–three renowned forensic psychiatrists–summarize the findings to date. They conclude that yes, media violence does have a connection to the real thing: ‘Exposure to violent imagery does not preordain violence, but it is a risk factor.’ Short-term effects of exposure to media violence are moderate to large; longer-term effects are small-to-moderate. Watching more than 2 hours of violent TV each weekday leads to antisocial behaviour in early adulthood.