New study looks at children's exposure to gun violence

Sep 25, 2017

Credit osu.edu

Are children who see movie characters use guns more likely to use them? One study from Ohio State University says it seems to increase the chances.

The study showed groups of kids, ages 8 to 12, different versions of the same movie. One had the gun scenes kept in, and one edited the gun scenes out. The children were then sent to a room to play where a real, unloaded gun was hidden amongst toys.

Stephen Cook, a pediatrician at the Golisano Children’s Hospital says the results are interesting.

“When they looked at if kids found a gun, if kids had seen the movie with the gun violence, they picked up and held the gun for 53 seconds. Almost a minute. As opposed to the kids who saw the movie without gun violence. If they found the gun, they held it for about 11 seconds."

The trigger of the gun had a sensor on it to track how often it was pulled.

The kids who saw the guns in the movie pulled 2.8 times, while kids who had seen the edited version with no guns pulled the trigger .01 times.

Cook says monitoring kid’s media is one of the most important steps to lessening interests in guns.

"I know that seems like an ever increasing job nowadays as parents but being on top of that, being aware, knowing what our kids have access to."

He also said families with guns should make sure they are stored correctly and that delaying when children have access to devices can help.

"I’ve heard a chant, wait till eight. Eighth grade before you let your child get a phone. Honestly that’s a really good strategy, children don't need phones or tablets or anything before that."

Cook said adults are just as bad at using screens in moderation, but that it must be acknowledged in order to help their kids.

32% of children in the study who found the gun reported it to the researchers.