Your child’s exposure to medial violence can increase their risk for future aggression. This is the finding of a new study from Iowa State University Media Research Lab.
Iowa State associate professor of psychology, Douglas Gentile, says there are six risk factors that predict future aggression in children and the more risk factors they are exposed to, “…the risk of aggression also goes up disproportionally.” The other risk factors include: gender; low parental involvement; physical victimization; bias towards hostility; and prior physical fights. Most of these risk factors, Gentile notes, are hard to change; but among the six risk factors, exposure to media violence would be the easiest for parents to limit.
Gentile adds, “Having one or two risk factors is not big deal. Kids are resilient — they can handle it. You get to three and there’s a big jump. When you get out past four risk factors, risk is increasing at a much higher rate than you would expect.”
Gentile and his team conducted two surveys in five Minnesota schools involving 430 children, aged between 7 and 11, and their teachers to determine the rates of physical aggression based on teachers’ reports of actual violence, reports by peers, and self-reports. The self-reports included a list of the children’s three favorite TV shows, movies, and video games, how violent these were, and how often they watched or played them.
Using an accepted method of approach in studying the effects of media violence on children, each participant’s overall violence exposure was calculated by multiplying the viewing or playing frequency by the violence rating and getting the average of the nine responses.
Gentile points out that the approach they used could be an effective method for schools to identify kids who have an increased risk for demonstrating bullying behavior. “We could profile kids by measuring their risk factors,” he explains. “In fact, I can get over 80 percent accuracy knowing only three things — are they a boy, have they gotten in a fight within the past year, and do they consume a lot of media violence? When you get out to having six risk factors, then we can predict with 94 percent accuracy which kids will get into fights in the coming year.”