Gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985

Brad J. Bushman, PhD Professor of Communication and Psychology, Margaret Hall and Robert Randal Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication School of Communication, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGun Violence Trends in Movies
Brad J. Bushman, PhD
Professor of Communication and Psychology, Margaret Hall and Robert Randal Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio;
VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Bushman: Gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985, the year the PG-13 rating was introduced. When the PG-13 rating was introduced, PG-13 films had about as much gun violence as G and PG films. Now PG-13 films have significantly more gun violence than R-rated films.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Bushman: Yes. The MPAA webpage says PG-13 films contain less violence than R-rated films, when they actually contain more gun violence.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bushman: Children should not see films containing gun violence. Hundreds of studies have shown that media violence can make kids more aggressive and can make them numb to the pain and suffering of others. Studies have also shown that the mere presence of a weapon can increase aggression, called the weapons effect.

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1759019

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bushman: Future research should test whether violence with guns is more likely to increase aggression in youth than violence without guns. Future research should also investigate whether films containing gun violence teach viewers scripts on how to use guns. Previous research has shown that when exposed to movie characters that smoke, many youth are more likely to start smoking themselves[i]; the same is true for characters that drink[ii]. Similarly, we predict that youth will be more interested in acquiring and using guns after exposure to gun violence in films.

Citation:

Gun Violence Trends in Movies
Brad J. Bushman, Patrick E. Jamieson, Ilana Weitz, and Daniel Romer
Pediatrics peds.2013-1600; published ahead of print November 11, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1600


[i] Dal Cin, S., Stoolmiller, M., & Sargent, J. D. (2012). When movies matter: Exposure to smoking in movies and changes in smoking behavior.Journal of Health Communication, 17(1), 76-89.

[ii] Wills, T. A., Sargent, J. D., Gibbons, F. X., Gerrard, M., & Stoolmiller, M. (2009). Movie exposure to alcohol cues and adolescent alcohol problems: a longitudinal analysis in a national sample. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(1). 23-25.