Study examines how kids look at guns after seeing them in pop culture

- When kids see gun violence, does that change how they feel about real guns ?

A new study showed one group of kids a movie with a gun scene, and another group without the gun violence- with interesting results.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is tops at the box office right now, and the spy thriller is filled with gun violence. It's an R rated movie, so not one that young kids are likely to see, but researchers wanted to know if watching movies with gun violence has any influence over a child's likelihood to pick up and use a real gun.

"The take-home message from this particular study is that these kids that saw the guns were more likely to show interest in them," says Dr. Kate Eshleman, a pediatric psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

The study looked at a group of more than 100 children ages 8 to 12 who watched a PG rated movie clip. However, one group saw a clip that had gun violence edited out, whereas the other group saw the clip with gun violence. The children were then taken to a room where they could play with toys and games.

A real gun, modified so that it could not fire, was placed in a cabinet drawer in the room.

Researchers said that most of the kids found the gun and touched the gun, however, the children who had just viewed the movie clips with gun violence were more than twice as likely to handle the gun and pull the trigger.

Dr. Eshleman says it's essential for parents to be aware of what their kids are exposed to. When children view media that contains gun violence, she says it's best to have a discussion about it right then and there.

"It's very important for parents to be aware of what their kids are being exposed to. So, knowing the games that they're playing and the movies that they're watching, and being aware of what the characters in those films are doing so that parents can start the conversation," she says.

Dr. Eshleman says parents need to make sure that if they have guns in the home that they are locked away safely. She says the best thing that parents can do to keep their children safe is to have conversations about guns including what to do if they encounter one.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA.

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories