Gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985 and exceeds the level found in R-rated movies says a new analysis reported by USA Today. With that increase, big-budget Hollywood movies may be adding aggressive attitudes and behaviors in young moviegoers, says a study published today in Pediatrics. The findings are important because PG-13 rated movies are “the ones that target children, and the violence that is shown contains guns,” says Prof. Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, study author. The films are more accessible than ever on the Internet and cable TV.
Hundreds of studies show “that exposure to media violence … increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, and aggressive behavior,” and decreases feelings of empathy and compassion, he says. Studies show the “presence of a weapon can make people more aggressive,” he adds. David Horowitz of Media Coalition, a First Amendment rights group, challenges the argument that gun violence in films makes young people more violence-prone, saying, “At the same time that we’re seeing more images of violence or images of guns, actual indicators of real world violence have gone down.”