Today, health-care professionals are noting rising rates of anxiety-related illness in adolescents and teens, and they are documenting many long-and-short-term debilitating effects of such illness on individuals, families and across society. As an outcome they are urging measures to address anxiety. Bell Canada's 'Let's Talk' initiative to draw attention to mental health issues is an affirming example of how our society is responding to raise such awareness.
It's time to connect some dots and recognize that an important source of anxiety is arising through a bad habit of broadcasting excessively violent and and anxiety-inducing TV and radio news. And this bad habit is victimizing children who are inadvertently exposed to such news. And the seeds of anxiety sown at that time can impede their mental and emotional health in the short and long term.
Let's make 2017 our year of forcing the CRTC and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters to re-convene and address this issue through the formation of a new 'Violence Code' that is informed by new research on childhood stress. Right now their 1993 code is inadequate to the task. And many mainstream media producers are ignoring it altogether. That is simply unacceptable according to leading-edge science.
Please sign the Choose News petition and do what you can to help bring about this change in 2017.
* Children’s Direct Fright and Worry Reactions to Violence in Fiction and News Television Programs
Authors: Juliette H. Walma van der Molen, PhD, and Brad J. Bushman, PhD.
Objective To examine whether violence in fictional and news television content frightens and worries children.
Study design Mixed factorial. Type of reaction (fright, worry) and television programming (violent news, violent fiction) were within-subjects factors, whereas age, sex, and television viewing frequency were between-subjects factors. Participants included 572 children (47% boys), aged 8 to 12 years, from 9 urban and rural primary schools in the Netherlands. The main exposure was to descriptions of 8 threats frequently depicted in fictional and news programs (eg, murder, war, house fires). Children reported whether they were frightened or worried by these threats.
Results Violent threats increased both fright and worry. These 2 reactions could be distinguished from one another in a factor analysis. When violent content was described as news, it produced more fear reactions than when it was described as fiction. Fright and worry were greater in girls than in boys, in younger children than in older children, and in light television viewers than in heavy television viewers.
Conclusions Pediatricians should inform parents, educators, policy makers, and broadcasters about the potentially harmful effect of violent programming on children’s emotions, especially in the case of news programming.
- Publication: Journal of Pediatrics; 2008;153:420-4