It is no secret that video games and television programs often depict graphic violence. But now, three new studies show violence causes children, teenagers and young adults to behave more aggressively than those who watch non-violent media.
In addition, there is also a debate swirling in Washington, D.C. on how to shield children from violent TV shows. Here is VOA's Carol Pearson.
Studies by psychologists at Iowa State University conclude that even cartoon-like video games for children that do not show blood but do show someone getting hurt, cause children to react more aggressively.
The researchers found the more graphic video games for teenagers also made them more aggressive.
The researchers concluded neither children nor college students are immune to the effects of media violence.
It may be entirely up to parents to monitor the video games their children play, but in Washington, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is calling on Congress for new measures to shield children from violence on television.
The commission's Penny Nance said, "Viewing TV violence can effect aggressive behavior in children and something should be done about it."
Just what should be done about programs such as, “Lock up the street!” has touched off a furious debate.
One option being considered is to restrict violent shows to later evening hours. Another is to force cable TV companies to offer subscribers a greater choice in the channels they buy so they can avoid violent programs.
Tim Winter of the Parents Television Council supports the pick-and-choose option. "I shouldn't have to pay for a graphic rape scene on the FX network in order to get the Disney Channel."
Some U.S. lawmakers want to sponsor legislation to shield children from TV violence. But Howard Kurtz, a media reporter for The Washington Post newspaper, predicts a fierce fight from the entertainment industry. "They like putting on the programming that brings in the eyeballs, and in the past, they've been very successful at beating back legislation that they don't want passed."
The legislation would also prompt a court battle. Caroline Frederickson from the American Civil Liberties Union says, "Congress is going to have to become a bureau of censorship, and I think I'm hopeful that many members of Congress will recognize that that is not the appropriate role for them to play."
Many Americans agree with Glynis Thomas, a mother who says she is ultimately responsible for what her sons watch. "I think the bottom line for me is, you know, moderation. I think parents need to be involved in what their children watch."
Other parents want more help in avoiding violent programs.