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The Effects of Seeing TV Violence
This article is part 3 of 4 in a series on Kids & TV
With children now watching an average of four hours of TV each day, parents have their work cut out for them if they want to minimize the influence of inappropriate content, especially violence, on their kids' behavior.
Years of research shows that children really do "learn about violence and how to commit violence" from activities such as watching TV, says media expert and Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint.
"The violent scenarios on television tell children that this is one of the primary ways that you handle conflict. You don't have to negotiate. You fight it out," Poussaint says.
He also worries that televised violence, particularly as entertainment, can "create anxiety, cause nightmares and have a lasting impact on the psyche." Moreover, he says, seeing enough hostility on TV can cause an insensitivity or "numbness to violence."
In his work, Poussaint has seen cases such as a child so obsessed with Power Rangers programs that he would "go bananas with aggression" after watching the show - kicking and acting out the action, even getting in fights at school. But Poussaint worries even more about the TV-watching child who lives in an environment with real physical threats, due to abuse in the home or danger in the streets. That child is "more vulnerable to being stirred up to act out urges and tendencies."