Media Violence Exposure and Physical Aggression in Fifth-Grade Children

Published In: Academic Pediatrics, v. 15, no. 1, Jan.-Feb. 2015, p. 82-88

Posted on RAND.org on December 10, 2014

by Tumaini Coker, Marc N. Elliott, David C Schwebel, Michael Windle, Sara L Toomey, Susan R. Tortolero, Marci F. Hertz, Melissa F Peskin, Mark A. Schuster

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the association of media violence exposure and physical aggression in fifth graders across 3 media types. METHODS: We analyzed data from a population-based, cross-sectional survey of 5,147 fifth graders and their parents in 3 US metropolitan areas. We used multivariable linear regression and report partial correlation coefficients to examine associations between children's exposure to violence in television/film, video games, and music (reported time spent consuming media and reported frequency of violent content: physical fighting, hurting, shooting, or killing) and the Problem Behavior Frequency Scale. RESULTS: Child-reported media violence exposure was associated with physical aggression after multivariable adjustment for sociodemographics, family and community violence, and child mental health symptoms (partial correlation coefficients: TV, 0.17; video games, 0.15; music, 0.14). This association was significant and independent for television, video games, and music violence exposure in a model including all 3 media types (partial correlation coefficients: TV, 0.11; video games, 0.09; music, 0.09). There was a significant positive interaction between media time and media violence for video games and music but not for television. Effect sizes for the association of media violence exposure and physical aggression were greater in magnitude than for most of the other examined variables. CONCLUSIONS: The association between physical aggression and media violence exposure is robust and persistent; the strength of this association of media violence may be at least as important as that of other factors with physical aggression in children, such as neighborhood violence, home violence, child mental health, and male gender.

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