Do Fighting Movies Really Make Children Violent?

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You grab your bowl of popcorn and get comfortable on the couch to enjoy your favorite fighting movie. Whether you’re watching Kill Bill or Enter the Dragon, you’ve realized by now that the thrilling, bone-crunching fight scenes are your favorite guilty pleasure. But if you’re a parent, have you thought about the effect your favorite fighting movies could have on your children? Do you allow them to watch or wait until they’re asleep to indulge in a film?

According to the Office of Child Development at the University of Pittsburgh, exposure to violence, even on the television, is potentially harmful to children. A magnitude of research has been conducted on the connection between violent TV and aggressive behavior, particularly in youth. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute of Mental Health have all found a connection, giving parents something to think about.

“There’s no one single factor that can make a non-violent person act violent,” stated Caroline Knorr, the Parenting Editor at Common Sense Media. “But prolonged exposure to violence in media is a risk factor. And it’s kids who have multiple risk factors who are likeliest to behave aggressively.”

Research has shown that once a child is seven or eight-years-old, according to experts, they’ve reached “the age of reason.” Essentially meaning that at that age, children are better able to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

Additionally, research has also shown that there are things parents can do to help ensure exposure to violence doesn’t have a negative effect on their child. Obviously, a parent can control the types of programs their child is exposed to or how much time they’re spending watching those programs. But perhaps the most important and effective tactic a parent can use is communication. Talk to your child about what they see and even if it’s not a film you approve of, talk about it. It’s important to have a discussion with your child about how violence compares to their own values as well as the consequences they would face if they took part in a similar kind of violence. As enjoyable as a fighting movie may be for you, it can easily turn into a learning experience for your child.

As with most issues in parenting and raising children, it comes down to following what you know and feel to be right. No child is the same, which is why it’s up to you to pay attention to how your child reacts to specific situations and keep an open discussion with them. No one wants to raise a violent child but you can’t keep your child under wraps forever either. It is possible to share your hobby with your kids as long as you go about it the right way.