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Pediatricians Tell Parents To Limit Children's Exposure To Violent Media Citing Link To Aggressive Behavior

As gaming devices and other gadgets become more widely available to families in the United States, a group of pediatricians has expressed concern about the dangers of media violence and decided to issue recommendation to curb potential effects of exposure to violent games and applications: feelings of anger and aggressive behavior in children.

On July 18, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new policy statement against virtual violence, which is set to be published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Although there have been researchers who dispute the association between exposure to screen violence and real-world violence such as school shootings, the AAP said that there are hundreds of studies and meta-analysis that have found a link between the two.

"It is true that a definitive link has not been found between screen violence and real-world violence (e.g., school shootings)," the AAP said. "While most school shooters have a heavy diet of screen violence, so do many non-school shooters. The rarity of shootings makes prospective studies infeasible."

The group cited a 2006 meta-analysis that looked at more than 400 studies on violent media of all types and found a significant link between exposure to media violence and aggressive thoughts, angry feeling, physiological arousal and aggressive behavior.

The AAP also mentioned that in a 2010 meta-analysis of 140 studies that focused only on video games, researchers have found a slightly stronger link between exposure to screen violence and aggressive behavior.

The policy statement issued recommendations for all stakeholders including parents, policymakers, the media and entertainment industry as well as healthcare givers to address children's exposure to violent media.

It includes recommendation for parents to limit the amount of violent content that their children are exposed to since video games become more concerning with the emergence of 3D technology, such as virtual reality headsets which offer immersive experience.

The AAP is aware that majority of people in the U.S. believe that there is a cause-and-effect link between screen violence and real-world aggression. Nonetheless, it noted that these people tend to believe that their families would not experience the behavior-related effects of virtual violence.

"Most believe that they and their children are immune to these effects," the AAP wrote. "The so-called third-person effect causes people to believe that other people, not themselves, but some small, susceptible fraction of people, are influenced in a way the majority of the population is not."

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