Dear Dr. Bill,
I have a question about TV violence. Every week my husband and our 11-year-old son watch “Ultimate Fighting” on TV —which involves martial arts style punching, kicking, choke holds, and throwing people around the arena. Is that kind of thing okay for our son to watch?
Several studies have confirmed that kids who consume a steady diet of violent media tend to act more aggressively toward their siblings, peers, and sometimes even their parents and teachers. This holds true for violent movies, TV shows, and video games.
Some studies have even found a link between violent media and a lack of empathy. In other words, these kids appear to be numb to human suffering—they don’t seem to care when they see other people hurt or killed.
So allowing your son to watch “Ultimate Fighting” is definitely not a good idea.
I’d encourage you to talk to your husband about this issue. Don’t attack or criticize him, but ask if he’s thought about the impact watching this show could have on your son. Tell him that if he wants to watch the show by himself that’s his decision, but you’d prefer if he didn’t make it a “father-son” activity.
If you approach him in love, hopefully he’ll be willing to hear you out and consider your input. If he says you’re overreacting and that the show couldn’t possibly have any negative effects, ask him if he’d consider talking to your son’s pediatrician about this.
If he refuses to budge on this issue, you’ve got a much deeper issue to deal with. In that case I’d suggest you contact Focus on the Family and ask them to refer you to a licensed Christian therapist in your area
Thanks for writing Kerri. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.