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Television and media violence

Robert D Sege, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Marilyn Augustyn, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Although decreased from its peak in the 1990s, violence continues to be a major cause of death and disability for American children. Exposure to television/media violence is an important and ubiquitous risk factor for youth violence [1]. Although the violence depicted is "virtual" in that the child does not witness it in person, the violence often affects real people (eg, news reports) [2]. Pediatric care providers and parents can work together to decrease the exposure of children to media violence (primary prevention) and, if exposed, to mitigate the effects (secondary prevention).

In broad terms, the impact of any influence on health behaviors is the product of the number of persons exposed and the magnitude of the effect of the exposure. This review first explores the ubiquity of exposure of children to television violence, then reviews studies that have established the negative consequences of this exposure, and concludes with suggestions for clinical interventions. Much of the research reviewed was conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, when the influence of media exposure on children was first established. Since then, the variety of media available has exploded, although there is no reason to believe that the exposure has decreased.

The association between viewing violence and subsequent violent behavior and prevention of the consequences of media violence are reviewed here. Other types of violence are discussed separately:

(See "Peer violence and violence prevention".)

(See "Intimate partner violence: Epidemiology and health consequences" and "Intimate partner violence: Childhood exposure".)

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: May 17, 2017.
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