The American Academy of Pediatrics issued another warning concerning the effects of virtual violence on children.
A meta-analysis involving 400 studies looked into violent media of different types, trying to assess the connection between the virtual violence exposure and aggression, expressed either by behavior, thoughts, angry feelings, or physiological arousal.
A second analysis that focused on video games showed even a stronger link between aggression and exposure to violence.
The research so far had failed in connecting the exposure to violence with any real-world violence, as the latter is rare. The experts explain that a school shooting, for example, is a singular event that cannot be explained by only one factor.
However, the previous studies have shown in a consistent matter that virtual violence enhances aggressive thoughts and produces an arousal in the body that can be expressed in behavior.
The connection proved by the scientists is just as strong as the link between second-hand smoking and lung cancer. However, even if people are convinced that being exposed to cigarette smoke is not good for the health, there are several individuals that are still reluctant in accepting the connection between on-screen violence and aggression.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations is for the pediatricians to focus on the content and the quantity of the media to which children are exposed.
On the other hand, parents should verify the type of programs that are being watched by their children, and also the games they are playing.
It would be best to have the parents play along with their kids in order to see exactly what kind of interaction is involved in the game, either or not the message that it conveys is correct and helps the child or is flawed and could lead to an incorrect mindset.
Virtual violence is especially harmful to children under the age of six, as they do not distinguish clearly between fantasy and reality.
The Association also recommends a new legislation that would offer more information on the media content. A more positive media should be elaborated having in mind an underage public.
Gratuitous violence should be eliminated from all the media, and the entertainment industry should not glamorize weapons but present them as normal. Any portrayal of violence should be followed by the pain and the loss inflicted on the victim.
The medical experts also note that it is important for the news media to acknowledge the connection between virtual violence and aggression, and to act in a responsible matter when presenting the facts. As for video game developers, it would be best to refrain from using humans as targets.
Image Source: Pixabay
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