What's the impact of media violence on kids?

The short answer is, no one really knows. But research shows that viewing (or playing) violent content could increase the chance that a child will act aggressively -- especially if other risk factors are present, such as growing up in a violent home.

Heavy exposure to violent media can lead to desensitization too. And parents' choices about their own media intake can affect kids. A study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that parents who watched a lot of movies were more likely to say it was OK for younger kids to watch movies that had R-rated violence and sexual content.

You won't be able to avoid all exposure to violent media. The entertainment industry is always going to try to capture audiences with extreme imagery that tops whatever came before. But in your own home, you have a lot of control over what your kids watch, see, and play -- and research shows that kids whose parents actively manage their media consume less and make quality choices on their own. 

It's really easy to find media that's free of violence and that your kids will enjoy. There may be a time when your kid is ready to handle more violent media -- and you can introduce it age-appropriately and discuss it as a family. In the meantime, choose movies that aren't too scary, find alternatives to violent video games, and seek out media that helps kids develop empathy.

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Teen, 13 years old written by Speckledhyena

Not all media with violence is necessarily going to result in your kid being a violent person. I've seen lots of movies with violence, and when I was younger I saw PG-13 movies. But I'm not violent at all, and haven't really been traumatized. Of course, that doesn't mean that you should show a baby a movie from the "Saw" franchise (or related franchises). Know what's best for your kid, and if they start imitating violence they see in media, tell them that not everything shown in the media is necessarily something to imitate and that violence shouldn't be used to solve problems. And if they seem upset about something, talk to them.
Kid, 10 years old

Some violent video games, movies, and TV shows, can be a scary for younger viewers, But, some younger kids might not get so scared, some movies, TV shows, and video games depend on the viewer. Just because a kid is young doesn't mean they get scared so easily, and just because a teen is older, doesn't mean they don't get scared, though, I wouldn't recommend really scary content to little kids. Try some experiments with your kid, start out with small scary stuff, like animated violence with no blood and boo's, then try some more scary stuff, like animated aliens and monsters with no blood. Then go to realistic looking aliens with no blood, then go to realistic monsters with no blood, then go to more-scary aliens and monster, with at the max a tiny bit of blood, then scarier aliens and monsters, with maybe a little more blood, then go to scarier monsters, with more and more blood, Then keep adding more and if your kid can handle it, thats a good sign. Make sure your kids don't desensitize and remind them to have empathy for characters in violent media and that they balance violent media with nonviolent media, and for younger kids, choose violent movies that have humor and happy endings.
Teen, 15 years old written by Common sense LST

Well, if you teach kids that you should not use violence to solve anything, and they are not impulsive, then it will not. If they are impulsive, then try to steer them away from any electronic device usage at all. Because that could be a risk factor for impulsive children to act more violent.
Teen, 13 years old written by Dead_Batteries

Alright, So let me get this straight. If a kid plays a game that involves a weapon or an object that is used as a weapon, they'll grow up to be a serial killer. No.. not really, I'm under the age of 18 and I've played a few Mature rated games here and there. I understand they have rating limits for younger children that need that restriction, but I believe I'm mature enough and I've had enough life experince to know the difference from pixelated people with guns from living, breathing, humans that have lives and people that care about them. The only true people you should worry about when you expose them to this kind of reckless behavior is the ones with mental issues. There are channels on YouTube that go over gore and blood in video games(I will admit I do watch them.) but they go over the realism factor of the gameplay. I've dreamed of being a surgeon when I get older and I understand what it can do to a kid when they expose themselves to this kind of media so I've taken it seriously(Apart from the fact I'm developing a reckless First Person Shooter.) and you should talk this kind of subject over with your child and tell them what it can do. Gore, blood, and violence are really not the most applicable for children under the age of at least 16, but as long as your child understands what it really is and what such things are not acceptable in our society then I think that they're okay.
Teen, 15 years old written by FlimFanE

The way I see it is that although using too much violent movies, video games, etc may have an effect on young audiences. It is by no means the main reason for real world violence. I believe that instead of blaming only media we all as a whole should start helping people with mental illnesses first, as the people who react like this to violent content usually have a serious mental condition.
Kid, 9 years old

Well video games shouldn't always be the blame there as bad as watching a violent movie
Teen, 17 years old written by KeemStar

No, you are clearly wrong, at the age of 15 I saw Akame Ga Kill, a show where one of the main characters heads is put on a pole, along with that things on the news are probably worse, including the "Dana is off tonight" meme
Teen, 17 years old written by pixelishere

No, you are wrong. Pretty much every person who plays violent video games and has aggresive behaviors while they grow up, probably have mental or anger problems. You can't just blame video games for EVERYTHING. What about movies? What about books? What about music? No it has to be videogames Every SINGLE TIME. Pretty much kids that play violent games and are scared are not mature. People who are not mature do not know the difference between what is real or not real. Scientists are ignorant. Grow up. Videogames are like movies. Everyone judges only videogames. So where is the proof?
Teen, 14 years old written by CassidySG

I read the article on, "What's the impact of media violence on kids?" I think this is true and what you watch can affect how you will act around other people.
Teen, 15 years old written by Dan-yell-ee

I think that watching violent movies can definitely affect the amount of teen violence there is. Also, playing violent video games can make teens more violent because this is how they think they can cope with pain or stress.
Teen, 15 years old written by El-bell

I think that this is really true, that when people watch violent shows, or even on media. When kids watch violent movies, it makes them want to be violent also, in this article it says "It's really easy to find media that's free of violence and that your kids will enjoy." It is really easy for kids to be watching violent shows.
Teen, 13 years old written by leilaf

I think it is true that media can make kids and teens violent. It can impact them to do things they would never do. I completely agree with this article.
Teen, 13 years old written by Meredithpjg

Media violence can affect a child, but not everything they see will cause them to change (whether its attitude or behavior.) Most of the things you see advertised can influence your decisions, good or bad. A lot of the games such as Halo, COD, or Grand Theft Auto, can be influencing you. You can't ever unsee something. Some violence puts bad images in your mind. Not everything you see will affect you, but you should always be careful and aware of what you could see. The games and movies aren't real, but they can have an affect.
Teen, 13 years old written by olivestevens

In my opinion kids are impacted by what they see on media. When they see a violent vidio game or show that is in there minds and when they see that so much they might start to think that violence is normal when it is not.
Kid, 12 years old

My parents talk to me about any violence in the movies that we watch. They help me understand the difference between real and not real.
Kid, 11 years old

My parents let me play most M rated games. except for gta. At first they were very concerned with what I was playing. After a year, my parents hadn't really became as concerned. They told me there had been no change in the attitude and that I was mature enough. I don't think violent video games affect behavior. A kid in my class who plays gta has the best behavior probably and never gets in trouble. If your child can tell fantasy from real violence, it is ok. A kid in my class who likes mario and can only play e or e10 got in trouble for hitting someone.
Kid, 11 years old

Video games don't make you violent! I have about a dozen friends who play COD and are fine.
Teen, 16 years old written by Maya16

I do believe that violent video games might make kids more violent. Dr.Phill thinks that children should not play violent games and that they make children more violent.
Adult written by Monera

A big thing I believe is an issue in general is the dumbing down of media in general for all ages. Stories are very shallow with little plot or character development and they use sex and violence as pure shock value. However, with an actual insightful plot line, violence can be a part of the story. Using violence when it isn't needed to enhance the story is just filler material and should be omitted, however, many real-life events have violence, whether it be war, or a rescue mission or the like. It's a sad fact that violence is ingrained in human nature, and stories wanting to capture human nature will often touch on that aspect. Children need to learn all sides of human nature in order to navigate this world. Innocence is no more bliss than ignorance.
Teen, 17 years old written by love.the.daydreamers

I believe violence in media is healthy depending on the amount and the context. For many stories, violence is a metaphor, a way for a storyteller to get a theme across that is difficult to comprehend. It also leads to the acceptance of real stakes and consequences.
Teen, 13 years old written by tionnalovesbooks

Let's face it violence is in the world people you trust can hurt you. Trust me sheltering your child isn't what you want to do. I was sheltered or so to speak I thought THAT couldn't happen to me.....I was wrong. I'm not saying let them play violent games and watch rated r movies. Let them know the everyday dangers a child faces . Be clear.....TRANSLUCENT about guidelines. Let them know it's ok to let someone know there making you uncomfortable. Thank You for reading I hope this helps.
Adult written by foreveryoung

It isn't just movies or TV anymore. You can be watching a wonderful life affirming movie or TV program and suddenly find yourself assaulted by a bloody, horrifying scene by way of commercial or preview. And don't count on the media moguls to keep their lewd, sexually explicit content away from unsuspecting eyes/ears. Commercial or preview cuts in and there it is. Just try to find the control before the damage is done. The positive thing is we watch a whole lot less movies and TV.
Kid, 12 years old

I agree completely foreveryoung. I have never crossed bad TV or games, but I almost constantly see horrifying commercials that can even make it difficult for me to sleep at night! I don't think CSM should blame it on video games. I've played the entire GTA series as a 10-year-old and it didn't mess up my ethics at all or make me aggressive in any way! I don't think violence has anything to do with video games, actually. Some researchers have shown it can actually be language and competitiveness in games, not the violence.
Teen, 13 years old written by Erik137

I am 13 years old and I asked my mum if I could buy GTA 5 (grand theft auto) at first she didn't like it and then we looked into It a bit more. At the end she told me I couldn't get it because there was too much violence. She said she thought she would be a bad parent if she bought me an 18 rated game. The point is If you raise your kids well and show them that violence is not good you can make exceptions. So it depends on one how well they understand violence and two how violent the games, moves and media content they are. I don't think that violence would have such an impact on your kids.
Adult written by RicaS

Reading the comment by Dtownmom, I wanted to point out that in many cases, you can read a review of a book on the webpage of the library. (Ask your local librarian to show you where to look for it.) The reviews do not give "parental warnings" like Common Sense Media reviews of movies, but they may provide a suggested age range or a mention of contents in the story that would be considered triggers.
Parent of a 13 and 13 year old written by Dtownmom

There is one important piece of media that is missing from your discussion -- books. I find it much easier to guide my children and talk to them about movies and tv. However, I have raised voracious readers (twins) who are just entering their teen years. It would be impossible for me to preread or even have a knowledge of every book they read. They don't even know what they are getting into when they pick up a book. Sometimes they are quite upset by what they read - crying, depressed - and not in the way that you cry at the end of Charlotte's web. They've learned to check commonsensemedia, but you don't have a review for everything. Would love to see a rating on books targeted to teens and younger children (like they do for other media) so that they have the power of choice before they pick up a book when it comes to the level of sex and violence. How could we make this happen? I know when it comes to books, the rally cry is "censorship". I believe writers should write what they want to write and publishers should publish what they want to publish, but if they are going to market it to children and make lots of money off of it, I think there should be some rules.