Television violence and its consequences: children

Admittedly, the topic of violence in the media is not new and we at have already reported on violence in television news. However, since violence, brutality and fear dominate today’s film and news world, the editors of decided to redirect attention to this topic. Because children need the right one handling Learn with the television pictures to prevent serious consequences such as outbreaks of fear, sleep disorders or traumatization.

A large number of studies and reports have reported on the extent of violence on television in recent years. In 2010, the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) submitted a comprehensive report on the current research results on the subject of media and violence. A 2007 study by Aust and Everhart contained therein examined fully animated Disney films from 1937 and 2000 for their proportion of physical violence. At least one human figure appeared in the films. “The authors identified 464 acts of violence and 564 weapons used (including physical exertion). Each of the films contained at least seven acts of violence. Aust and Everhart find it particularly problematic that only 32 percent of the violence within the film has had any negative reaction (negative comments or an intervention to end the violence). There was no response at all in 60 percent of the cases, and violence was even shown to be accepted in eight percent of the cases (e.g. laughing at violence, encouraging violence) ”.

A study published in 2005, commissioned by the Bavarian State Center for New Media (BLM) and the Lower Saxony State Media Authority (NLM), shows that violence is an integral part of the media. Accordingly, there is at least one depiction of violence in over half of all programs (58.2 percent). Not only is information provided about real incidents, but the brutal form of presentation also serves as an entertainment factor.

Possible consequences of television violence

From today’s perspective, current statements on the effects of television violence cannot be made. This is primarily due to the personal level of development, the environment and the usage behavior of the individual. Prof. Grimm from the University of Vienna speaks of an “ambivalent effect” of scenes of violence on the viewer: “Fear and indignation are mainly triggered. Imitation finds less instead of.”The associated processing of the cinematic scenes is of great importance. It is therefore not only the pictures that have to be taken into account, but also the commentary. Prof. Grimm emphasizes that from a journalistic point of view it is important not to give the perpetrators a stage in order to counteract imitation in this way.

Violence in children’s eyes

Children see violence from a completely different perspective than adults. And yet what is seen is sometimes difficult to bear even for adults. The ideal world is suddenly destroyed by bloody scenes and brutal images. Pictures of a killing spree are re-enacted, the wounded are shown in a war and subway attackers are filmed with their cruel deed down to the smallest detail. Children’s eyes get bigger and bigger when they see brutal pictures. From a psychological point of view, this can contribute to anxiety and also trigger fears that cause nightmares because the images are processed at night. Adults, on the other hand, understand the overall context of the scenes faster than children, since they can classify the pictures in connection with the comments. In addition, adults are able to keep a certain distance from their own reality because they are aware of the spatial and temporal leaps as well as the distinction between real and fictional violence.

The correct handling with the cinematic violence

To counteract the anxiety, an open discussion about what is seen is important. "The participation of parents in the media experience is a big factor," said Grimm. However, since children often use the remote control when their parents are away, this is not always easy. A watchful eye of the parents is very important. A sleepless night can be prevented by working up and talking about the brutal scenes and switching the program.


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Christina Cherry
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