Media Violence & Children — American Academy of Pediatrics

Exposure to media violence through television, movies, music and video games can contribute to a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents. These include aggressive behavior, nightmares, desensitization to violence, fear and depression. The AAP issued two policy statements in October; 2009, the abstracts are below:

AAP Policy Statement — Media Violence, October 19, 2009
Exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, represents a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents. Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed.

Pediatricians should assess their patients’ level of media exposure and intervene on media related
health risks. Pediatricians and other child health care providers can advocate for a safer media environment for children by encouraging media literacy, more thoughtful and proactive use of media by children and their parents, more responsible portrayal of violence by media producers, and more useful and effective media ratings.

AAP Policy Statement — Impact of Music, Music Lyrics, and Music Videos on Children and Youth October 19, 2009
Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Popular music is present almost everywhere, and it is easily available through the radio, various recordings, the Internet, and new technologies, allowing adolescents to hear it in diverse settings and situations, alone or shared with friends. Parents often are unaware of the lyrics to which their children are listening because of the increasing use of downloaded music and headphones.

Research on popular music has explored its effects on schoolwork, social interactions, mood and affect, and particularly behavior. The effect that popular music has on children’s and adolescents’ behavior and emotions is of paramount concern. Lyrics have become more explicit in their references to drugs, sex, and violence over the years, particularly in certain genres. A teenager’s preference for certain types of music could be correlated or associated with certain behaviors.

As with popular music, the perception and the effect of music-video messages are important, because research has reported that exposure to violence, sexual messages, sexual stereotypes, and use of substances of abuse in music videos might produce significant changes in behaviors and attitudes of young viewers.

Pediatricians and parents should be aware of this information. Furthermore, with the evidence portrayed in these studies, it is essential for pediatricians and parents to take a stand regarding music lyrics.

The AAP has released the two updated policy statements addressing these issues and are
available at: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/MediaViolenceLyrics.cfm

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