As parents, we must take action in reducing our children’s exposure to media violence. Not only is this a children’s health issue but, unfortunately, also a public health issue. After a school shooting, politicians will examine gun control, mental health support, and media violence among other areas. Extensive research has shown that media violence can contribute to aggression and real life violence.
What are some steps we can take as parents?
1. Remove televisions, Internet, and video games from bedrooms and move them to common areas.
2. Preview or coview media of concern with our children. Discuss what is inappropriate, why it is inappropriate, and what an alternative would be to the action if there are any exposures.
3. Review music lyrics prior to purchase for both sexual and violent content.
4. Limit screen time to no more than 1-2 hours day.
5. Don’t allow video games with human targets or games in which points are awarded for killing. Kids will understand if you explain to them why these games don’t need to be purchased or played.
6. Remember that we, as parents, are role models for our children of appropriate media and music use.
7. Avoid media in children less than 2 years old- not for violence but to prevent possible language delay.
It is time to take control of our children’s exposure to media violence. Speak up to our politicians. Tell the entertainment industry. There needs to be a more responsible way to portray violence and a simplified rating system to guide parents. We want to prevent any further gun tragedies against children in the future.
Elizabeth Chea MD