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J Pediatr. 2008 Sep;153(3):420-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.03.036. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Children's direct fright and worry reactions to violence in fiction and news television programs.

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Department of Communication, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To examine whether violence in fictional and news television content frightens and worries children.


Mixed factorial. Type of reaction (fright, worry) and television programming (violent news, violent fiction) were within-subjects factors, whereas age, sex, and television viewing frequency were between-subjects factors. Participants included 572 children (47% boys), aged 8 to 12 years, from 9 urban and rural primary schools in the Netherlands. The main exposure was to descriptions of 8 threats frequently depicted in fictional and news programs (eg, murder, war, house fires). Children reported whether they were frightened or worried by these threats.


Violent threats increased both fright and worry. These 2 reactions could be distinguished from one another in a factor analysis. When violent content was described as news, it produced more fear reactions than when it was described as fiction. Fright and worry were greater in girls than in boys, in younger children than in older children, and in light television viewers than in heavy television viewers.


Pediatricians should inform parents, educators, policy makers, and broadcasters about the potentially harmful effect of violent programming on children's emotions, especially in the case of news programming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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