Risks of early exposure to media violence remain unclear. This study examines typical early childhood violent media exposure and subsequent psychosocial and academic risks.
Our longitudinal birth cohort comprised 978 girls and 998 boys. Child-reported and teacher-reported measures of adjustment at age 12 years were linearly regressed on parent-reported televised violence exposure at ages 3.5 and 4.5 years while adjusting for individual/family confounders.
For girls, preschool violent televiewing was associated with increases in emotional distress (b = 0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13–0.49) and decreases in classroom engagement (b = −0.97; 95% CI, −1.55 to −0.40), academic achievement (b = −2.60; 95% CI, −3.48 to −1.72), and academic motivation (b = −0.58; 95% CI, −1.09 to −0.07) at age 12 years. For boys, preschool violent televiewing was associated with increases in emotionally distressed (b = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.13–0.53), inattentive (b = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.06–0.45), conduct disordered (b = 0.11; 95% CI, 0.00–0.21), and socially withdrawn behavior (b = 0.23; 95% CI, 0.05–0.40), as well as decreases in classroom engagement (b = −0.84; 95% CI, −1.57 to −0.12), academic achievement (b = −1.19; 95% CI, −2.15 to −0.23), and academic motivation (b = −0.58; 95% CI, −1.13 to −0.03) at age 12 years.
Compared with no preschool exposure, violent televiewing is associated with distinct and enduring psychosocial risks by early adolescence. Acknowledging such risks remains a pertinent health literacy target for pediatric professionals, parents, and communities.