The HORROR of T.V.- how children get affected by psychologically violent material on t.v.

" Vaijanti, a 12yr old girl, was enjoying her summer vacations. On a Wednesday afternoon, she sat down to watch T.V after lunch. Her grandmother, who normally would supervise her activities, was sleeping in the nearby room.

She started surfing channels and curiously landed up on an English movie channel which she had always been banned from watching. For The next 2hrs she sat glued to the sofa watched a horror movie about a psychopathic serial killer called "Friday the 13th".

That night her parents noticed her behavior to be extremely restless and refusal to sleep alone. The fear in her eyes and continuous flow of tears down her cheek told a bigger story. Fearful of parental reprimand she initially denied any problem and lied on having fought with her friends.

2 nights later, concerned by this sudden change in behavior, her parents convinced her to confess the truth. She told them about the movie, and how the images of serial killing, blood and death still haunted her. The sight of darkness made her more fearful, and she feared something will happen to her parents while she sleeps.

Her parents tried their best to counsel her, but after 5 more days of torture they finally brought her to my clinic. On initial emotional, behavioral and psychological analysis her condition seemed deteorating. She required immediate attention, else the fear would have left a permanent impression in her psyche. A 7-day treatment module was devised after discussion with the parents. A few days later I was informed of her success in overcoming the fear and those images. She conquered this emotional trauma. She was lucky, not many are"

Its vacation season. Many children stay at home while their parents go to work. The child is normally under the supervision of a servant or a grandparent. This increases the freedom of exploration that a child gets. It’s this new found independence which ignites the child’s inquisitiveness to explore all that material which else is forbidden from him. One of such is the exploration of new channels on T.V. Most TV nowadays has child-lock facility for the same, but many a times this is either overridden by the technologically savvy kids, or not used by the parents.

Thou the Indian television industry does comply with high standards of censorship in regard to nudity and violence, the basic content of most programs has extreme focus on negative emotions and sexual content. Exposure of a child’s mind to such harmful audio-visual content can increase the negative and destructive emotions in their psyche.

In today’s world of TRP, the basic content of soap-operas, movies and reality shows is focused on plotting, planning and harming anyone who doesn’t satisfy the characters ego. This directly and indirectly affects a child psyche and teaches him negative ways of handling a situation.

The whole menu of soap-operas, horror movies and reality shows cook up a dangerous mix of destructive emotions and negative traits for personality which is easily imbibed by the fragile child’s-brain.

In case a child has been exposed to some really powerful emotions, which he/she is not able to understand, accept and comprehend. The repercussions on emotions and behavior could be devastating. Sudden changes in behavioral patterns are important markers of such a dangerous exposure.
Some of the classical behavioral changes/patterns seen in such cases are:

1. Crying without reason
2. Fearful behavior thru out the day- this can be manifested as sudden extreme attachment to parents.
3. Hiding in her room or in one corner
4. Decreased sleep
5. Sudden onset of anger, irritation- sometimes irrational demands/wishes
6. Fear of being alone.
7. Fear of darkness.
7. continuously talking to self without reason.
8. Drawings or essay writing shows destruction, death, injury to near and dear ones.
9. decreased appetite.
10. repetitive flashbacks of those violent images.
11. Fear of imaginary characters to harm friends and family.

A. counsel the child- the most important things to understand while counseling a child that:

i. he/she can think only in black and white.
ii. he/she has much more inquisitiveness than a normal adult.
iii. he/she requires a lot of patience, love and time.
iv. listening to the child can give you thousands of clues.
v. don’t compare to other children.
vi. dont hit or force him to believe what you believe in.

b. if the problem becomes uncontrollable, then don’t hesitate in approaching professionals.

i. general mbbs doctors/pediatricians are a good first line of defense. They can give a nice small pep talk. To the child. Avoid them using the fear of needles/syringes/injections to make a child believe in what they are preaching. This will just add to the fear burden of the child.

ii. priest/religious leader- religion and faith play a pivotal role in every individuals psyche. This role is defined very young in life. An experienced priest or religious preacher can help the child by using religion as tool to fight the fear.
Faith healers/tantriks should be avoided as they might use very strong images and rituals that can add more to a child’s fear burden.

iii. psychiatrists/psychologists- remember gone are the days when these just dealt with mad people.
Science has advanced a million steps, and psychiatrists/psychologists deal with emotional, behavioral and psychological problems.
They have a scientifically researched battery of tests and examinations which can help your child.
They have professional, scientifically researched knowledge on how to carry counseling.
If medicine (and the wrong concept of tranquilizers) is roaming in your mind, than ask them to focus on giving only ayurvedic or homeopathic medications.

Dr.Hemant Mittal



  2. Thats a much needed article doc, Thank you very much....

  3. An excellent article which is worth preserving. I'm a doctor practicing in the Middle East. Can I get the article published in a local newspaper, so that many parents will read and will be benefited.Why don't you write your opinion about children getting affected by crime movies also?

  4. @siva

    1. you can get it published, but kindly make sure that my name is mentioned as the author.

  5. Excellent article Dr. Mittal, indeed very essential for all parents