AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
U.S. SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE
The Federal Trade Commission issued a report on the marketing of violence to
children by the entertainment industry. As a pediatrician, I would like to present research on
media violence and its effects on children and adolescents, examine the nature of child
development, and show why entertainment violence can affect the health of some children.
Since the l950s, more than 3,500 research studies in the United States and around the world
using many investigative methods have examined whether there is an association between
exposure to media violence and subsequent violent behavior. All but 18 have shown a positive
correlation between media exposure and violent behavior. Some findings:
Epidemiologists studying a broad array of factors associated with violence, including
poverty, racial discrimination, substance abuse, inadequate schools, joblessness and family
dissolution, found that exposure to violent media was a factor in half of the 10,000 homicides
committed in the United States the previous year.
Numerous studies indicate that a preference for heavy metal music may be a significant
marker for alienation, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, suicide risk, sex-role stereotyping, or risk-taking behaviors during adolescence.
Research to date indicates that interactive media have an even more potent and lasting effect
on violent behavior than passive media forms like television and movies. Several studies
have shown that after playing violent video games, children and adolescents become
desensitized to violence, have increased levels of aggressive thoughts and behavior, and act
hostile toward others.
Studies designed to test the theory that experiencing media violence leads to a catharsis, a
reduction in actual aggression due to the vicarious release of hostility, actually found
increased overt aggression because of lowered inhibitions after experiencing media violence.
Meta-analysis, a process by which the results from many different research studies are
analyzed as a whole, shows that the strength of the correlation between exposure to media
violence and aggressive behavior is larger than that of condom non-use and sexually
transmitted HIV, lead exposure and lower I.Q., passive tobacco smoke and lung cancer or
calcium intake and bone mass, relationships which pediatricians accept as fact and on which
we routinely base preventive medicine.