From seemingly innocent cartoons to supposed children’s movies, the images of violence can actually have long-term effects on our children. HEALTH investigates.
According to Psychologist Devika Singh-Mankani, children begin to absorb images of violence from the time they are toddlers, under three years old. Also, children under the age of approximately six years cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality and are vulnerable to any images presented to them, whether in the form of cartoon characters or human images. She explains, “Sources
of violence are no longer restricted to the conventional media such as movies and cartoons. Children are now exposed to video games and the news.” Even something as innocent as cartoons can be just as influential in a negative sense for a child as real life video images.
The signs, tells Singh-Mankani, depend in part on how much the child relates a particular behavior to their own life. “For instance, a child who has been bullied, or been the victim of even a single instance of physical abuse from a parent or a peer, may react differently to images of violence when compared to a child who has not had the same kind of negative experiences,” she explains. “Some children may become anxious or depressed and often report nightmares.” She adds that children generally model what they see, and if they are exposed to violence, they may interpret it as an acceptable behavior based on the premise that the adult world will present information that is true and accurate.
What Parents Can Do
- It is critical for parents to try and monitor their child’s viewing content. This can be done by making sure an adult is physically present when they are watching TV.
- Establish parenting controls on the TV and internet.
- Monitor the content in books and video games.
- If children are exposed to images, it is important for them to know that they can discuss what they think and feel with a trusted adult.