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027 - Viewing Violence

posted Nov 20, 2015, 1:06 PM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 27

October 22, 2014

Limiting What Children Are Exposed To 

In the last issue of Counselor Notes, I addressed the issue of limiting screen time.  In this issue I want to address what we are collectively allowing our children to see. 

The following are PG-13 movies:

  • Mean Girls (2004)
  • Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • The Hunger Games (2012) and Hunger Games Catching Fire (2013)
  • Superman Returns (2006) and Superman Man of Steel (2013)
  • All four of the Transformers movies (2007 – 2014)
  • Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire (2005); Order of Phoenix (2007); Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011)
  • All 5 of the Spiderman movies (2002 – 2014)
  • All 7 of the Batman movies (1989 – 2012)

Our survey of 3rd Grade students showed that 72% had seen one of the two most recent Spiderman movies and another 57% had seen Batman The Dark Knight.  (The movie in which the “superhero” beats up the unarmed and unresisting Joker in the police interrogation room.)  In terms of video games, a full 57% report that they have played video games rated “Teen” or “Mature.” 

The University of Michigan notes that: 

Literally thousands of studies since the 1950s have asked whether there is a link between exposure to media violence and violent behavior.  All but 18 have answered, "Yes."   The evidence from the research is overwhelming.  According to the AAP, "Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed."  http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry would seemingly agree:

Extensive viewing of television violence by children causes greater aggressiveness. Sometimes, watching a single violent program can increase aggressiveness. Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished, are more likely to imitate what they see.  Children with emotional, behavioral, learning or impulse control problems may be more easily influenced by TV violence. The impact of TV violence may be immediately evident in the child's behavior or may surface years later. Young people can even be affected when the family atmosphere shows no tendency toward violence.  http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Children_And_TV_Violence_13.aspx

Numerous other sites echo the same sentiment &/or negative affects on children

Parents need to be the parents regarding what children are allowed to watch on t.v. and which video games they can play.  As much as we may wish corporate America would look after children’s best interests, one must wonder if they do.  How many of the movies listed have toys included in children’s meals at fast food restaurants?  How is it that a PG-13 movie has a toy in a meal designed for a pre-school child?  Are they looking after developing healthy children or increasing their profit?

In response to the potential negative effects of children viewing violence on t.v. or playing teen &/or mature rated video games, I am asking parents of children at Waverly Elementary School to prohibit their child from watching violent television shows, viewing PG-13 movies, and from playing teen or mature rated video games. 

How badly do our children need to see PG-13 movies or play teen or mature rated video games?  What do they lose if they don’t see them until they are older?  If parents aren’t going to protect children’s childhood, then who is?  I know lots of people who say kids grow up too fast these days.  How much of a role do parents play in that by their lack of attention to matters brought up here?

To those parents who choose to allow their child to watch or play something meant for a more mature audience (including PG rated movies), I would ask that they take the time to fully process the movie with them (i.e. the parental guidance).  From what I have seen, there has not been enough of that going on. 

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  I haven’t been immune from missteps as a parent.  There are plenty of things I wish I could “do-over.”  Each day we get another chance to do it right.  May we all take advantage of that opportunity.

P.P.S  Counselor Notes 25 listed WebMD as saying that children 7 to 12 years old should get 12 to 14 hours of sleep a night.  That was a mistake.  It should have said 10 to 11 hours a night.  


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