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Thursday, March 4, 2010

TV TuneOut time is here: Stop your child's exposure to media violence

Fifteen years ago, the Winnetka Alliance for Early Childhood asked me to write an article about the effects of media violence on children. At the time, the message of TV violence research was loud and clear: exposure to media violence causes children to behave more aggressively, both immediately and when they are older.

Concerned parents and teachers from around the world downloaded this article, quoted it, referred me to Time Magazine (see Mother, and others. Parents of today still care about this important topic, as it is still the most popular article on my website. See

There is a recent article in Psychological Bulletin, 2010 Volume 136, Issue 2 (Mar), examining multiple studies ("meta-analyses" ) on the effects of violent video games on children. They stated,
exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.

Essentially, media violence desensitizes individuals to violence, desensitizes their ability to empathize with others, and decreases their ability to demonstrate positive social interactions.

In response to this study, media people, reported in USAToday, are already trying to argue that it is mostly the parents' fault that their children become violent.

Regardless of what the media says, there are many things that parents CAN control, can do to help their children grow up to be responsible community members. Parents CAN limit the effects of media violence on their children: Limit their exposure by turning off the TV and computer, and do alternate activities with your child. Read to them. Cook with them. There's a multitude of activities to do with them. Take back your family!

Once a year, an entire community stages a series of events to help families in their quest to reduce screen time. Sunday kicks off Winnetka's Fifteenth Annual TV TuneOut. For more information, please visit It's great fun, and a great way to banish the last vestiges of winter.

If you have questions about how your child is developing, please visit my website: or contact me at

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