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American Academy of Pediatrics Warns About the Negative Effects of Children Being Exposed to Virtual Violence

Jul 19, 2016 11:42 PM EDT
Virtual Violence
American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents about the possible effect of virtual violence exposure to their children
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently released a new statement warning about the negative effects of children being exposed to the so-called "virtual violence" and urging parents to cut down the "media diet" of their children.

Virtual violence is describe as the simulation of violence that occurs within gaming applications and glamorizing or normalizing violence depicted in television and movies. AAP also framed virtual violence as virtual consumption of either simulated or fictional violence.

The new statement, published in the recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, also tackles about the role of unprecedented access of children to portable devices with internet, photo and video capabilities in changing the scope, magnitude and outcomes of virtual violence exposures. These devices can provide access to real violence that captured and consumed virtually.

Furthermore, social media platforms is slowly becoming a place for the youth to produce, view and share problematic content, including images of community violence, school violence, sexual violence and police violence. AAP believes that mobile exposures to real violence are distinct from the simulated violence in games and other real violence pictured in television news.

Experts are worrying about the ability of media exposures to be captured and shared by youth "without adult supervision or knowledge, independent of structured rating systems, and unrestricted by traditional viewing controls that commonly manage television, movie, and gaming selections," according to a press release. Media exposures could lead to distress, victimization or fear among teens that don't yet have the skills to contextualize risk.

"We've switched from calling it screen aggression or screen violence to virtual violence to capture the more immersive ways children can experience media violence today," explained Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Research Institute and principal author of the study, in a report from CBC News. "Your child might be at greater risk than others, particularly when parents see aggressive tendencies in their children, they should make very concerted efforts to reduce the violence in their child's media diet."

Violence is defined as aggression with an ultimate goal of inflicting extreme physical harm, such as injury and death. AAP is now urging parents to control the media diet of their child to lessen their exposure to virtual violence.

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