The Impact of Media Violence on Children

The debate continues on the impact of media violence on children.......

The American Psychological Association (APA) told the Senate Commerce Committee that there is ample evidence of the harmful effects of television violence on children. Jeff McIntyre of the APA's Public Policy Office said studies have shown that repeated exposure to violence in the media places children at risk for desensitization to acts of violence and increases in aggression, plus "an unrealistic fear of becoming a victim of violence, which results in the development of other negative characteristics, such as mistrust of others."

In other testimony, the leader of a National Television Violence Study in the1990s cited evidence-based conclusions that can be drawn from scientific research on television violence. For one thing, said Dr. Dale Kunkel, most violence on television is shown in a manner that increases the risk of harmful effects on child viewers—portrayals fail to show realistic harm to victims, both short- and long-term, and immediate pain and suffering is included in fewer than half of the scenes. "Most depictions sanitize violence by making it appear much less harmful than it really is."

And in the most voluminous testimony at the hearing, Peter Liguori, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company, claimed that while three government reports—from the Surgeon General, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission--have concluded there may be a connection between television and violence, "there is no causal link." Without evidence that TV actually causes children to become violent, "We cannot justify imposing content limits on the media," he said.

For a listing of related bills, see the Congressional record website at and search for "TV violence and children."