Online child abuse is an increasingly prevalent form of abuse in today’s digital age, posing grave risks to children’s safety and well-being. Through various online platforms, children are vulnerable to exploitation, grooming and other forms of harm, highlighting the urgent need for robust prevention and intervention measures.
This is an escalating concern in today’s digital landscape, manifesting in various forms that jeopardize the safety and well-being of children. The emerging threat can be categorized into three primary aspects, known as the Three Cs:
Content: Involves materials children come across online, which may include explicit or harmful information that can negatively impact them.
Contact: Relates to the individuals children may encounter in online spaces who could potentially exploit or abuse them.
Conduct: Refers to children’s online behavior, which may inadvertently expose them to abuse.
In this first article in our series, we look at content children consume from Television which can influence their behavior in several ways.

Children often imitate what they see on TV, especially if the behaviour is portrayed by characters they admire. If they witness aggressive acts being glorified or rewarded, they may be more likely to replicate similar behaviour in real life.
Exposure to repeated violence on television can desensitize children to real-life violence, making them less empathetic and more accepting of aggressive behaviour as a norm.
Violent content can activate aggressive thoughts and feelings in children which may increase the likelihood of them engaging in aggressive behaviour when faced with frustrating or challenging situations.
When violence is depicted as a common or acceptable means of resolving conflicts on TV, children may internalise these messages and perceive violence as a legitimate response to problems in real life.
Overall, the content children consume from watching television can shape their attitudes and behaviours, potentially contributing to increased aggression in real life.

However, there are safeguards that if practiced at family level legislation can help solve the problem.
At the family level, some stop-gap measures to mitigate the negative effects of violent television content on children include:
Parental Supervision: Parents should monitor and regulate the type of content their children watch on television. Setting limits on screen time and discussing the content with their children can help them understand what is appropriate and what should be avoided.
Media literacy education: Teaching children critical thinking skills and media literacy can help them discern between fantasy and reality, understand the impact of media messages and make informed decisions about their media consumption.
Positive role modelling: Parents can role model non-violent conflict resolution and emphasize the importance of empathy, respect and peaceful communication in dealing with conflicts.
Open communication: Encouraging open communication between parents and children allows for discussion about the content they watch on television, any concerns or questions they may have and the potential impact it may have on their behaviour.

On the legislative front, measures to mitigate the impact of violent television content on children may include-
Content regulation: Implementing regulations that restrict the depiction of violence on television during times when children are likely to be watching such as during daytime and early evening hours.
Parental controls: Mandating television networks and streamlining platforms to provide parental control features that allow parents to block or filter out content deemed inappropriate for children.
Public awareness campaigns: Launching public awareness campaigns to educate parents, caregivers and educators about the potential risk of violent television content on children’s development and providing resources for promoting healthy media habits.

Support for media literacy programs: Allocating funding for media literacy programs in schools and communities to empower children with skills needed to critically evaluate and navigate media content.
By implementing these measures both at the family and through legislation, efforts can be made to mitigate the negative impact of violent television content on children’s behavior and well-being.

The writer is the Executive Director, Ripples International


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here