How Violence on TV affects Behaviour in Children

Updated at: Jul 17, 2012
How Violence on TV affects Behaviour in Children

Extensive viewing of violence on television makes child aggressive and violent. Know more on the connection between watching violence on TV and behaviour in children.

Himanshu Sharma
Tips for ParentWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Jul 17, 2012

What impact does violence on TV have on children? Television has come a long way, and so has its viewers. Currently, there are several television shows (especially reality shows) that feature violent content and are replete with abusive language/slangs. The rampant TV violence has increased concern of parents to save their kids from enacting the same behaviour in a social setup.

A Lasting Impression of TV on Children

Children can't distinguish between the real and the fake world, and assume violence as a real event when they see it. It thrills them to the core as a result they learn and grasp what they see, or hear, or told. There is no denial to the fact that viewing possibilities are endless, but there are shows that make negative impression on the young  ones.

Can too much of restriction or access to internet and TV can increase a child’s anxiety? Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytical Therapist, replies, “Too much of restriction or access to internet and TV are both quite problematic for the child's psyche. When a child is severely restricted to use the media, he feels suppressed and cut of from what he enjoys doing. This may intensify the feelings of anxiety in the child that he will not get what he wants and in case he strives for it, he will be ridiculed and punished.”

“This has long lasting impact and the feeling generalizes to other spheres of life. On the other hand if the child overindulges in internet or TV then he may start using it as a tool to distract from negative emotions and problems of life almost like a drug. A dependency is formed and the child cannot tolerate separation from internet or TV and this leads to feelings of anxiety.”, says Dr. Pulkit.


Read on Internet Addition leads to Mental Disorders

Violence On TV/Video Games

Attention seeking shows with aggressive acts abound on TV alter children’s behaviour. Television shows portray in a usual pattern, which is full of hatred, violence, suffering, drama, pain and action. Social activities, such as exposure to real world violence and family attitudes towards violence are among other factors that result aggressive behaviour in children. Children's aggression could also come in the form of loud thoughts and feelings, when they lash out at others with anger, jealously or with an intention to hurt.


The reported cases of cartoon, video game and television characters compelling adolescents to do wrong deeds are on a rise. The makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto game series (GTA) have faced lawsuits repeatedly for its violent content, which has encouraged violence among teens. As per The Guinness World Records 2008 and 2009, GTA is the most controversial video game with over 4,000 accusations of violence, corrupting gamers and relation with real life crimes.

So, is playing video games bad for adolescents? How does it impact kid’s behaviour? “Playing video games is not bad if done in moderation. In fact it is a good recreational and fun activity which stimulates the brain. Also, playing some video games can enhance psychological skills such as attention and concentration, problem solving and visual-motor integration”, says Dr. Pulkit Sharma Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytical Therapist.

“If overdone, it can be bad for adolescents. When this happens the adolescent starts using the game as a distraction to change his mood and becomes a video game addict. He finds it hard to control playing video games, neglects all other activities and slips into depression and rage if stopped from playing video games.”

Read more Violent TV Shows lead to Sleep Disorder in Children

WHAT AACAP has to Say

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) report explains that kids imitate what they see on the TV. The frequent viewing of violence cause behavioural shift in children. According to the report, children develop ‘cognitive scripts’ which guide behaviour by imitating people they watch on television. Moreover, increased TV viewing could also be an indication of psychological factors in child’s life which manifest in the form of aggressive behaviour.

Reason for Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias

Children get frightened by viewing gory violence on TV. Adolescents cannot differentiate between what is real and what is not, and may get trapped in anxiety, fears and phobias. Scared children are not easy to console and they may reject parent’s attempts to distinguish between reality and fantasy. The situation of excessive fear may cause behavioural problems in children, or can also make them restless with nightmares.Cumulating all these concerns suggest that the level of violence on television is a cause of concern for parents. Parents should intervene to protect their children from the adverse effects of violence on TV. They should watch television shows along with them, making them understand acceptable and unacceptable programming. Parents should also make an attempt to keep children engaged in extracurricular activities to reduce the amount of time spent watching TV.


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