Violence in children's television programming: Assessing the risks

Barbara J. Wilson, Stacy L. Smith, W. James Potter, Dale Kunkel, Daniel Linz, Carolyn M. Colvin, Edward Donnerstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the nature and extent of violence contained in television programming that targets children aged 12 and younger. The measures employed in this content analysis are grounded in previous experimental research that has identified contextual features that either diminish or enhance the risk of harmful effects associated with viewing violent portrayals. This report uses the database from the National Television Violence Study (Wilson et al., 1998), which involved an unusually large and representative sample of programming. Results indicate that programs targeted to children contain more violence than do other types of programming. The violence itself is just as likely to be glamorized in children's as in nonchildren's shows, but it is even more sanitized and more likely to be trivialized. These patterns heighten the risk of viewers learning aggression and becoming desensitized from such portrayals. Finally, this study documents 5 subgenres of children's programming that differ dramatically in violent content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-35
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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