It used to be easier for parents and adults to shelter children from the madness of society, extreme violence, and delusional people. Protecting innocent children and teens from the horror of the real world seemed to be a priority, but things have changed quite a bit over the years. Thanks to TV, social media, and the liberal “anything goes” way of thinking we now have a youth who’s becoming increasingly desensitized.
American citizens are getting fed up; I know I am. It’s not normal to glamorize suicide. It’s not normal to punch a stranger out cold and post it on YouTube. It’s not normal to blog about hurting people emotionally. And it’s certainly not normal to write hurtful comments about your “friends” on social media.
No, America, this is NOT normal. And it’s a shame our beautiful, innocent children are exposed to violence and such deeply hurtful things at such a young age. The more kids see “bad” things, the more they become desensitized to them.
In psychology, desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative, aversive or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.
This is why today’s generation is becoming numb to the suffering around them.
Studies show the more realistic and repeated the exposure to violence, the more significant the impact on children. This constant exposure to violence desensitizes children making them believe violence is not a “big deal.” Violent images can influence children with emotional, behavioral and learning problems more than others. They may act out what they observe in the images or videos.
Not to mention, children and adolescents can become overly involved and even obsessed with video games.
The exposure to high levels of violence at age 11 was associated with lower levels of internalizing problems at age 13. In turn, fewer internalizing problems and more externalizing problems at age 13 predicted more violent behavior at age 18. The results suggest that emotional desensitization to violence in early adolescence contributes to serious violence in late adolescence.
There are many influencers to youth’s desensitization, some include:
- Violence on TV
- Violent video games
- The killing of people or animals
- Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol
- Exposure to criminal behavior
- Sexual exploitation and violence
- Foul language, obscenities, and obscene gestures
Violence on TV
Children who watched many hours of violence on television when they were in elementary school were likely to show higher levels of aggressive behavior when they became teenagers. Studies show that the ones who watched a lot of TV violence when they were eight years old were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults.
Other research has found that exposure to media violence can desensitize people to violence in the real world and that, for some people, watching violence in the media becomes enjoyable and does not result in the anxious arousal that would be likely from seeing violent acts.
Video Game Violence
A 2010 review by psychologist Craig A. Anderson suggests that “exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.” His research also showed playing violent video games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in daily life. “One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters,” says Anderson.
The National Institute of Mental Health identified these significant effects of seeing violence on television:
- Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others
- Children may be more fearful of the world around them
- Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others
As parents, teachers, mentors and other significant figures to children, it’s important to be curious. Ask questions about television, movies, videos and video games, and what they like and dislike about them. Encourage children to go against the grain when necessary and not feel like they need to watch or be exposed something just because their peers are.