Intended for healthcare professionals


Television violence and children

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 04 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:273
  1. Dora Black,
  2. Martin Newman
  1. Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Honorary senior registrarin child psychiatry Children's Trauma Clinic, Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QG

    Its effects need to be seen in the context of other influences on children's mental health

    Children watch two to three hours' television daily from the age of 3 or earlier, and during childhood they average more time in front of the television set than in the classroom.1 Although watching television has positive effects,2 attention is usually focused on its negative ones. Some people believe that children may be harmed by watching violence on the screen,3 4 and, although over 1000 research studies have established an association between screen violence and the level of aggressive behaviour in some children and young people,5 6 causation has not been established. Increased aggression may not be the only negative effect. Children may find some of the images frightening and in rare cases develop anxiety and phobic reactions; more commonly they may develop short lived nightmares and other sleep problems.7

    Television violence may influence children in four ways: making them want to imitate what they see, reducing learnt inhibitions against violent behaviour, desensitising them to violence through repetition, and increasing arousal.1 Viewing violence on the …

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