Adverse Impact of Violent and Dreadful Content on Audience Mental Health : Ministry of I&B
Incidents relating to accidents, deaths, and violence including violence against women, children, and elderly can create distress and provoke feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety, and rage in the viewers.
After repetitively viewing gruesome occurrences, the thought processes center around fear and anger. The resulting feelings might make one question the perception of the place we live in leading to implications on mental health.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory for all the television channels against explicitly portraying dead bodies, images/videos of injured people with blood splattered, and people being beaten up mercilessly including voices of cries and shrieks. Such atrocious content has been shown to the audience for long shots and without blurring the images.
The ministry raised the concern of privacy invasion, which has the potential to besmirch and malign the parties involved. Since viewers of all ages watch television in family settings, it is the broadcasters' responsibility to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Programme code and the Advertising code.
Further, an implication of exposure to such content is the potentially damaging effects it can have on children’s mental health including anxiety, stress reactions, constant fear, substance use, depression, and behavioral problems including aggression. The attitudes and values that children hold is tender and open to change. It can sway with examples set by parents, teachers, or any other role model. If they repetitively encounter violent content, it raises concern regarding the morals being fed to the brain. Appropriate development of sensitivity, empathy, and compassion natural to humans comes into question. For instance, if the TV shows a man brutally hitting a dog, then it may spark the urge in children to do the same with their own pet or a soft toy.
Shock and fright are natural responses to grisly incidents. However, persistence in feeling these emotions paves the possibility to cause difficulty in functioning of individuals. For instance, parents might live in constant fear unless their children return home, trusting a stranger is nearly impossible even for good, or the safety of women comes into question after dawn. Trepidation can hamper day to day functioning of individuals.
Sharing location with loved ones particularly during odd hours, carrying a self-defense spray, instant access to SOS contacts, and being aware of the surroundings are few things that can be practiced to stay alert. Besides personal measures, the working organizations and schools should take steps to monitor employees’ and children’s safety
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