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Children, Media Violence & Nightmares

Filed in
  • nightmares
  • parenting

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Oct 31, 2009
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Just in time for Halloween, the thriller Paranormal Activity and horror flick Saw VI topped the box office charts last weekend. The House of the Devil opened on Friday.

They're the kind of movies that the American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents to help their children avoid. The AAP has just released a revised policy statement on media violence.

It reports that the average young person will have viewed an estimated 200,000 acts of violence on TV by the age of 18 years. That doesn't include exposure to violence in movies, music and video games.

Does this exposure to violence have an effect? The statement reports that it has been linked to a variety of physical and mental health problems in children and teens. This includes fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances.

The AAP recommends that parents make thoughtful media choices that limit violent content. Parents should view and discuss programs together with their children.

Parents also are encouraged to limit their children’s screen time to one or two hours per day. This includes time watching TV and videos, playing video games and surfing the Internet.

The AAP also advises parents to keep the TV, computer and video games out of children's bedrooms. It reports that children with a TV in their bedroom watch an additional hour of TV per day.

Children also are likely to sleep better in a media-free room. In March the Sleep Education Blog reported that sleep problems often occur when children have a TV in their bedroom.

When nightmares do occur, parents can provide comfort and reassurance. 

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