Children’s Exposure to Violence

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Violence is all around us. It’s in our neighborhoods, on our televisions, in our movies, and on the news. Real violence – rape, abuse, murder – is everywhere we turn. Yet, as gruesome and horrific as this violence is, society is often perceived as idolizing it. We celebrate it by paying to see violent movies. And we celebrate it by allowing kids to see it on television shows or playing violent video games.  A recent study shows that 50% of parents allow their kids, some as young as six years old, to play adult and mature rated games. Some parents allow their young children to play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto (two of the most well-known violent video games out there) for up to six hours a day. The survey also showed that one in four parents can see a change in behavior after their kids play the game.  Approximately 57% of parents say that they think their kids can handle the content in games, even though they aren’t old enough.  


Many of these games have graphic sex scenes or murders. Grand Theft Auto displays pornographic images and gets players excited about the idea of theft and murder. A Child Protection Expert was interviewed in the survey and she said that many of the children she sees that use graphic curse words they don’t usually get them from TV, but instead from video games. She also said that a six year old asked her what a brothel was. She believes part of the problem is that parents aren’t informed on what content is actually in the games. (1)


Video games have a powerful draw on a young, developing mind. The images however, stay with these young minds. They become part of the development process and they are not easily erased. When a young child at age five or six is exposed to violence for hours at a time with no monitoring from a respected adult figure, how can this not affect their behavior? By allowing kids to play games of this nature, we are creating problems for their future and for society as a whole.  By exposing them to violence like this at such a young age, we’re sending them the message that violence and aggression is ok.


Children are becoming hardened and desensitized to images of violence. If we don’t monitor what our children see and hear, they are subject to a world of anger. If we don’t, who will teach them compassion? Who will teach them that true strength doesn’t mean acting out in violence, but instead acting out in love?


1. Robinson, Martin. “Children as young as six are being exposed to video games scenes involving  violence and prostitution because their parents ignore age limits.” MailOnline. August 13, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2014.