Science & Tech

How media violence touches children

1 min read

Researchers worry that kids are becoming desensitized

Children and adolescents are consuming more television than ever before. The average 8- to 18-year-old spends nearly seven hours each day involved with some form of media. Kids are also more violent than ever before. At the turn of the last century, children and adolescents were most likely to die of environmental causes, especially infectious diseases. In the year 2000, violence — suicide, homicide, accidents, and assaults — was the leading cause of death among young people. Michael Rich, a moviemaker turned pediatrician, is one of a number of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School who have been studying the effects of the media on the mental and physical health of children and adolescents. Rich believes that exposure to violent images in the media — television, movies, video games, and music videos — has led to an increasing tolerance for violence by young people. The idea is not new, and yet the general public, including parents, have been reluctant to pay attention to the warnings of researchers like Rich and colleague Kimberly Thompson.