'Common Sense' Suggestions for Violence Studies

Group: Current Studies Are Woefully Lacking, Particularly on Online Impact

Common Sense Media has recommendations for how the government studies the relationship between violent media and real-life violence, which it based on an analysis of the existing research into children and media, which it finds wanting. The group says that survey has been shared with legislators and industry.

Common Sense says that the current research into children and teenagers' violent media exposure is out of date and incomplete, including almost no data on online exposure. But it says the research that is available "allows us to think about violent media as a 'risk factor' to violence -- one variable among many that increases the risk of violent behavior among some children."

Common Sense's recommendations for filling in the research "gaps" are:

  • "Monitoring children's cumulative exposure to violence across multiple forms of media, including movies/video, advertising, music, social media, and other online venues;
  • "Longitudinal studies that include the most current media -- especially the ultra-violent first-person shooter games, and the latest movies and television shows;
  • "Studies that both pay attention to and control for the multiple additional risk factors and variables that potentially influence violent behavior, including trait aggression and family violence; and
  • "Additional and more current studies about children's exposure to violence in the advertisements they see each day on television, while streaming content, and in other new media venues."

According to the group, it shared the research with the media industry as well as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), other members of Congress, the Centers for Disease Control, which has been tasked by the Obama Administration with conducting new violence studies, the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences, which will be tasked with conducting studies if a bill proposed by Sen. Rockefeller passes into law.

Common Sense focuses on content-control technologies to help parents help their kids navigate a crowded and complicated media landscape. It provides content reviews and recommendations to a laundry list of top media companies, including Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox, Disney, Netflix and Tribune. FCC chairman Genachowski is a founding board member of the group.