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Stop The Desensitization Of American Children

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.

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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.

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About Katherine Rez

For many years Katherine spent her much of her time journaling for fun, reading books, and writing several short stories for adults, and children. She eventually found herself in a career writing high-level processes and procedures for corporate and startup businesses. Combined with her love of health, American values, and family, she now writes for a variety of websites from health and entertainment, to news and politically driven websites.


  1. Katherine lists some of the consequences relating to our new “modern” lifestyle, but the solution is beyond normal parenting expertise, especially with the increase of both parents working or single parent families. Those who are interested in the future of their children must realize that society requires a fundamental change in direction.
    The most simple cure is for our families to return to a faith centered lifestyle, preferably a Christian lifestyle which details “The Way” as expressed by Jesus Christ.
    This may seem like a glib recommendation, but I guarantee it is the only one that fulfills all the desired objectives for a happy life, both here on earth and forever. It is definitely worth exploring – if one is sincere.

  2. Years ago we were asked to “baby sit” our neighbor’s three young children. We were told that they should not be a problem as they would be watching Saturday morning cartoons. Wow!! Were our eyes opened. Having no children ourselves, we were appalled at the violence that was contained in these cartoons. We don’t know who decided that very young children would be o.k. watching these cartoons, but we found them to be full of violence. Maybe it was supposed to be “funny,” but it certainly came across to us as feeding violence to the very young–something that should not have been done.

  3. Look, I’m not big on labels…but I happen to be…more or less…a Libertarian (though one who still values core programs like education, the arts, health care, and the like). I will add that I’ve been APPALLED by the seemingly ENDLESS lunatic and extremely predatory and violent wars the US has been prosecuting around the world for so many years. In my book a solid and immediate 50% slashing of the military-intelligence budget would be a genuine GODSEND….but your average NeoCon seems to ONLY want to cut programs like Social Security, education, health care….and family planning, which I consider extremely problematic.

    And, I will add that (probably “on the same page” as you) that I am troubled by most of the “Punk” and “hip-hop” junk music (and graffiti), much of which is full of profanity, misogynistic sentiment and just low-life stupidity….including ghetto usage (“Ebonics”). Finally, our public education system seems to have fallen into serious deterioration. You ask your typical high school student about something like WWII, and they’ll look at you like you were speaking Chinese!! And you can forget about suggesting they form a good English sentence…much less deliver a simple speech or pen an intelligent essay on something like the JFK assassination or the Cold War. Finally, the guy in the White House now is like an American president in a Harvard Lampoon comedy, just unbelievably narcissistic and juvenile…and pretty dangerous, to boot.

    Blessings to all!!

  4. Thank you Katherine for a well written article that precisely hit the problem in America. Are kids are so overexposed to every kind of violence from graphic sexual assaults to butchering people every day its no wonder that they have become desensitized to it. Its the same thing groups like ISIS does to make young children think this is normal and everyone does this. I recently saw a picture of ISIS forcing 5 yr olds to execute prisoners. Some American 5 yr olds do this all day long on video games.

    You are right, this is not normal and never has been in America.

    • Thank you, it’s saddening what innocent children are exposed to today. Let’s pray this new “normal” will subside.

  5. Phillip said; “My wife comments that these are the people who will be taking care of us in our old age. Taking care or euthanizing us? By then the terms will be synonymous. I realize this is a elementary analogy but I believe it is accurate.the water is close to boiling but the frogs feel great. Desensitization is upon us. Life has little value to many and that”s the fallout from legalizing abortion in 1973. Hop out of the pot! Quick!

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