Violent Movies Can Lead Teens to More Violence

The Southern California Prevention and Research Center at UCLA’s School of Public Health says that homicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24- years old. They suggest that violent media can be traced back to the root of this problem. Most PG- 13 and rated R movies contain violence, most of which is happy violence.

Happy violence is the violence that doesn’t seem as bad because it looks “cool, swift, and painless.” It doesn’t seem to affect anyone’s life. Happy violence and the overuse of media can desensitize people and make violence more casual and make people believe that there are no consequences for their actions.

According to the NBCI study, half of G and PG movies contain high salience violence. This violence is not to the same degree as the violence found in PG- 13 and R rated movies but has been found to be linked to being desensitized over time and leading to watching PG- 13 and rated R movies later on. The amount of media usage also plays a factor in desensitization. The more often violent movies are watched, the faster people can become numb to the violence and not even realize it. 

Parents can put limits on screen time and put restrictions on what rating their children can watch. Sometimes children click on a movie without knowing its rating or what it is about. Having a restriction on the rate of the movie will help with preventing an innocent mistake. Putting a limit on screen time helps make sure that the children don’t watch too much violence, but it also allows the children time to create and grow healthy relationships. 

For more information on media and parenting, read our position statement, The Impact of Media Use and Screen Time on Children, Adolescents, and Families. 



Huesmann, L. R. (2007, December). The impact of electronic media violence: scientific theory and research. Retrieved from

PG-13 Films Not Safe For Kids, Researchers Say. (2007, June 8). Retrieved from


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5 Responses to “Violent Movies Can Lead Teens to More Violence”

  1. Patricia Lee June February 3, 2020 at 11:49 am #

    I agree, and these are good starts, but not sufficient. As mentioned, there is also significant violence in G and PG movies. Whenever possible, parents should prescreen movies that their children will watch and/or watch them with their children, allowing both for discussions and for turning off the screen if content is inappropriate.

  2. Krystle L. Hunter, PhD February 3, 2020 at 3:18 pm #

    I agree. Parents should take time to preview what their children are watching. As noted, violence can be viewed in all ratings. Triggers of violence can be perceived as innocent to one child, but to another child can be bothersome. Parents must be aware of their children and cognizant of what they are exposed to regularly. Exposing them to violence can and will have an impact on future behaviors.

  3. Mike A. February 3, 2020 at 3:19 pm #

    Even though the amount of gratuitous sex in film is obnoxious I have to admit that the violence is perhaps even a greater threat. Both serve to desensitize our kids (and blur the line between fact and fiction). Such violent games and movies may also contribute to the lack of quality sleep kids are getting.

  4. Randolph Matthews February 3, 2020 at 10:49 pm #

    I think it is clear that the combination of violence, profane language and violence all lead to a coarsening of our society. I wish I could go back to the 60’s or earlier when I understand that society was more gentle overall.

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