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Attorney William Marcus Wilkerson
Photo of attorney William Marcus Wilkerson

How violent media affects mental health

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

In Texas, violent media and its impact on mental health, especially in children, is a well-researched yet contentious topic. The association between aggression and violent media raises questions about its validity, what qualifies as aggression and its impacts on mental health.

Link between media and real-life behaviors

Numerous studies have consistently shown a link between an individual’s exposure to violent media and heightened aggression in real life. Aggression covers a range of behaviors and includes verbal and psychological aggression, not strictly physical acts of violence.

Aggressive behaviors also exist on a spectrum that ranges from mild behaviors to severe acts such as violent crime. While consuming violent media could increase aggression, it does not necessarily translate into the individual committing dangerous actions.

Researching the subject

Long-term research studies have revealed that children frequently exposed to media violence can become aggressive adults, even if they stop consuming violent media at some point. Their behavior can manifest as physical altercations, domestic violence and criminal behavior. However, controversy exists regarding how to define and attribute acts of aggression and violence.

Limits in the conditions for lab experiments also make it challenging to accurately reflect media consumption in the real world, making it difficult to derive conclusive study results. Aside from media consumption, personal characteristics such as personality traits and a child’s developmental stage can shape their behaviors. Additionally, social influences and context can also factor into aggressive behavior.

Other mental health outcomes

While not all individuals become aggressive or violent after consuming violent media, research has suggested that a correlation exists between exposure to violent media and mental health issues such as anxiety.

Research has also shown that exposure to violence through news media on platforms such as social media has contributed in some cases to anxiety, depression, substance use, stress reactions and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The impact of violent media varies, but it is vital to consider its psychological and mental health effects. Limiting exposure and parental conversations with children can promote awareness and engender critical thinking and media literacy.