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Media Violence

Introduction || Ratings Issues || Video Games
Movies || Television || Additional Resources


Congressional Testimony

  • When children watch violent movies, they know that they are watching make-believe scenes-- yet their brains process the images as "real" and store those images in the same place where real-life traumatic events are stored, according to Senate testimony. "The brain treats entertainment violence as something significant and something real -- and it stores this violence as long-term memory," Dr. John P Murray told a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing.

    Dr. Murray's MRI imaging research showed that children store memories of violent entertainment images in the same part of the brain where veterans store severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) memories and where women store memories of rape. "These children are forming indelible memories," he said, adding that these memories are quickly recalled and can be used as guides for future behavior. "Our concern is for the long-term effects" of these violent scenes on children's behavior, Dr. Murray told the Subcommittee. (The actual research was published in the October 2001 issue of Psychiatric Times.) Additional testimony from the Neurobiological Research and the Impact of Media hearing is at

Key Facts

  • Key Facts on TV Violence, Kaiser Family Foundation


  • Children who watch a lot of violent television are more apt to be aggressive in young adulthood, doing such things as physically attacking someone or throwing things at their spouses, according to a new study in the journal Developmental Psychology.. They are also more likely to commit crimes or drive dangerously than children who watch less violence, according to an article about the study which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Teenagers who watch more than an hour of television a day are more likely to become violent as adults than adolescents who watch less, according to a recent study in Science magazine -- and the rate of violence (including assaults, fights and robberies) increases dramatically if viewing exceeds three hours a day, according to researchers who studied more than 700 people over a 17-year period.  Lion & Lamb executive director Daphne White comments on the study on CNN.
  • TV Addiction, Scientific American's February 2002 cover story, discusses how closely compulsive TV viewing and video game playing resembles other forms of addiction.
  • A 22-month-old baby suffered spinal cord injuries after his 5-year-old cousin imitated a "pile-driver" move he saw while watching wrestling on TV. The incident is the focus of a case study by Dr. Norman A. Silver of the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg in Canada who concluded, "The case study does show that imitation of television causing severe injury can and does occur."
  • "If you're a corporate executive looking to peddle your product on TV, skip shows laced with sex or violence. That's the conclusion of a new study from Iowa State University that says sexually explicit or violent shows make viewers less likely to remember commercials that aired during the program," reveals an article in HealthScoutNews.
  • Parents, Children and the Television Ratings System: Two Kaiser Family Foundation Surveys in 1998 National Surveys of Parents and Children, May 1998.

Policy Statement

  • Television Violence and Children, American Psychological Association (APA)


  • Children and TV Violence, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
  • National Institute on Media and The Family
    This site features KidScore, an innovative and family-friendly ratings system for video and computer games as well as television and movies.
  • TV Turnoff Network
    This organization encourages children and adults to watch much less television in order to promote healthier lives and communities.


  • Longitudinal Relations Between Childrens Exposure to TV Violence and Their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 19771992 by Rowell Huesmann, Jessica Moise-Titus, Cheryl-Lyn Podolski and Leonard D. Eron in Developmental Psychology, Vol. 39, 2003. A press release about the study is also available.
  • What Goes In Must Come Out: Children's Media Violence Consumption at Home and Aggressive Behaviors at School by Audrey M. Buchanan, Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., David A. Nelson, Ph.D., David A. Walsh, Ph.D., and Julia Hensel in Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Vol. 23. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.
    For a quick summary, you can read the press release about the study.
  • Longitudinal Relations between Children's Exposure to Television Violence and their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977-1992 by L. Rowell Huesmann, et al., December 18, 2001. Copyright APA and in press at Developmental Psychology.  (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free, to view this article.)
  • A Validity Test of Movie, Television and Video-Game Ratings by David Walsh, Ph.D. and Douglas Gentile, Ph.D. in Pediatrics, Vol. 107, No. 6, June 2001. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free, to view this article.)
  • Effects of Reducing Children's Television  and Video Game Use on Aggressive Behavior -- Stanford University Study  by Dr. Thomas Robinson in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, January 2001.
    You can also read an AP news story on the Stanford study.
  • Parents Rate the TV Ratings, by Douglas Gentile Ph.D., National Institute on Media and the Family, May 1, 1998.
  • Effects of Television Violence on Memory for Commercial Messages by Brad J. Bushman in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, December 1998 Vol. 4, No. 4, 291-307.


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