Researchers say too many children see extreme violence in movies

Aug 04, 2008

In a paper published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers document the alarming numbers of young adolescents age 10-14 who are exposed to graphic violence in movies rated R for violence. They found that these extremely violent movies were seen by an average of 12.5 percent of an estimated 22 million children age 10-14. One R-rated movie, Scary Movie, was seen by an estimated 10 million children, or about 48 percent of 10-14 year olds.

"Our data reveal a disturbingly high rate of exposure among 10-14 year olds nationally to extremely violent movies," says Keilah Worth, the lead author on the study and a post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth Medical School and at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "In Britain, no adolescent would be admitted to these movies unless they were 18. The R rating in this country is clearly not preventing our young people from seeing them."

Many scientific studies have established the connection between exposure to media violence and aggression and violence in children. For example, playing video games can lead to changes in attitudes and behavior as well as desensitization to actual violence.

"We know so much about the harmful effects of exposure to violent media content, but how much exposure children actually get has been largely ignored. Now, we're learning more about the large numbers of kids seeing this material and who they are," says Worth.

For this assessment of exposure to violence in movies, the researchers used data from national telephone surveys of more than 6,500 adolescents age 10-14 in 2003. Out of 532 recent releases, the researchers chose to look at exposure to 40 of the most violent movies. The study also revealed some independent risk factors for exposure: boys, minorities, those with lower socioeconomic status, and those with lower academic performance were all more likely to see extremely violent movies. Black male adolescents were at particularly high risk of seeing these movies. For example, Blade, Training Day, and Scary Movie were seen by 37 percent, 27 percent, and 48 percent respectively of all the adolescents surveyed, compared to 82 percent, 81 percent, and 81 percent of black males.

"No expert in child development would advocate for subjecting children as young as 10 to this level of violence, yet the study shows that such exposure is commonplace in this country," says James Sargent, the senior scientist on this study and a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School. "We should re-think the current movie rating system, which has been in place for 40 years, and was designed when kids could only see movies in theaters. Ratings need to be more prominent on all movies, whether they are seen in theaters or purchased in the store, and we need clearer messages to parents. Pediatricians and child advocates should instruct parents to strictly abide by the movie-age guidelines and to closely monitor movie viewing."

Source: Dartmouth College

Explore further: Possible risk of folic acid overexposure

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New material puts a twist in light

30 minutes ago

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered the secret to twisting light at will. It is the latest step in the development of photonics, the faster, more compact and less carbon-hungry ...

Controversial Alaska mine project wins one in Congress

1 hour ago

Supporters of the embattled Pebble Mine project in Alaska are making a desperate effort in Congress and the courts to keep it alive in the face of warnings from the Environmental Protection Agency that it could devastate ...

Recommended for you

Possible risk of folic acid overexposure

7 minutes ago

A new study has shown that synthetic folic acid, the form taken in folic acid supplements we can buy over the counter, is not processed by the body in the same way as natural folates, the form found in green vegetables.

Is coffee aggravating your hot flashes?

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Drinking caffeine may worsen the hot flashes and night sweats that affect roughly two-thirds of women as they go through menopause, new survey data suggests.

AAFP: family docs report potential misuse of MGMA data

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Reports from family physicians have been received that employers may be misusing survey data to set higher compensation rates for general internal physicians than for family physicians, according ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kerry
5 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2008
Why so serious? =) I've been watching pretty violent movies since I was little. I feel like I'm normal. I have no homocidal/suicidal thoughts. I'm pretty laid back. If you've been brought up well and have reasonable intelligence, this sort of thing will never corrupt you. If you are stupid and have no sense of morality, maybe not. Parents, it's your responsibility to take care of your kids, not the rating system's.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 04, 2008
The problem is not the content of the movies or media, nor is it in the depiction of the act.

The problem is in the parenting. If your parents don't educate you on what is real and what is fake then as a child you probably cannot make a relevant determination as to whether the act is acceptable or not.

I was brought up playing violent video games, watching violent movies, watching the news about the drug and gang warfare going on during my upbringing and I am far less violent than most of my contemporaries.

The reason, both my parents educated me as to what was proper conduct and what was not acceptable in society. When parents stop expecting the government or the media to raise their children, then we can put the foolishness of this debate behind us.