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Do Violent and Sexually Explicit Media Affect Children and Teens?

By HERWriter
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Do Sexually Explicit  and Violent Media Affect Children and Teens? Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Most of us who spend any amount of time online have experienced those “oops” moments. We’ve mistyped something into a search engine or entered a seemingly innocent batch of keywords, only to have blatant sexual or other inappropriate content come up in the results.

If we see it, chances are our children see it too, and they’re even less equipped to emotionally process what they see than we are.

What’s the Big Deal? Kids don’t Know what They’re Seeing

Children process sexual and violent material differently than adults. We may not think children actually retain what they see and don’t understand. But if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that children are paying much more attention than we think, and not always to the things we think, either.

Children may not be able to verbalize that such pictures are bothering them. But, even adults find it difficult to get a disturbing image out of their heads, although exposure may have been only in passing from an unexpected pop-up or scrolling through YouTube videos.

Imagine what it’s like for a child who doesn’t have the frame of reference or life experience you do.

How many times has your child come to you after seeing something frightening during her day and told you she's now afraid of the monsters in her closet, or she's had a scary dream?

These fears and anxieties are all influenced by things they’ve seen or perceived. We may think that some of these things are innocent and fun, but some children process what they see differently and will act out the emotional effects.

Exposure to Inappropriate Content Makes Kids Think It’s Normal

While TV, Internet, video games and other media cannot be blamed as the sole cause of some children’s behavior, research is showing more and more that exposure to this kind of content in the media normalizes violence and sexual activities for children. (3)

Not only that, the more children see, the more they’ll become desensitized to it.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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