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7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence

by Erin Dower

Did you know that U.S. children are more likely to be exposed to violence than adults? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, most American children are regularly exposed to violence — in the media, at home, in school, and in their community — and incidents of violence can affect them throughout their lifetime. Limiting kids' exposure to violence can help reduce the risk of overall violent behavior in children — from bullying and gang violence to school shootings and self-harm — as well as the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental-health effects of violence.

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boy playing video game alone

Limit Violent Video Games and Media

A 2002 study found that 21st-century children spend an average of 53 hours a week with media and technology — more time than they spend on any other single activity: school, family, sports, and sleep.

The AAP advises limiting children's TV and entertainment screen time to two hours or less per day (one hour or less per day for video game playing), and to educational, nonviolent content. Know the ratings of the TV shows and movies your children watch before they're allowed to tune in, and pay attention to the type of media you're taking in while your kids are around. The AAP also encourages parents to look into a video game's rating and content before allowing a child to buy or download it. Every week, violent video games and online games/apps hit the market and become top-sellers. The AAP notes that parents should encourage play of nonviolent games that involve multiple players. "A typical scenario pits our young hero against a horde of hostile foes," the AAP says. "Too much time spent absorbed in violent fantasy may foster social isolation."

Consider using your TV's and electronic device's parental controls and time-limit settings to help you keep tabs on your child's media and tech use. Also, check out sites like Common Sense Media for reviews and age ratings of various media for kids.

Next: Think Twice About Toy Guns (and Real Guns)

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