‘Violence on TV causing depression, anxiety among children’
Karachi: Violence aired on TV round the clock is causing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic disorder amongst children, according to a senior psychiatrist at the Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Syed Ali Wasif.
“A child or any other individual who is abruptly exposed to the sound of a cracker or breaking news on a TV channel goes through fear, anxiety, uncertainty and hopelessness,” Dr Wasif told The News on Tuesday.
“The child can develop depression and post-traumatic disorder. It also affects their educational productivity,” he said.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an emotional illness that is classified as an anxiety disorder and usually develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.
PTSD sufferers re-experience the traumatic event or events in some way, tend to avoid places, people or other things that remind them of the event (avoidance), and are exquisitely sensitive to normal life experiences (hyper-arousal).
Although this condition is likely to have existed since human beings endured trauma, PTSD has only been recognised as a formal diagnosis in the 1980s.
Virtually any trauma, defined as an event that is life-threatening or that severely compromises the emotional well-being of an individual or causes intense fear, may cause PTSD.
Asked how violence aired on TV channels was affecting children, Dr Wasif said: “First of all we need to understand few terms we use in our everyday language. These are aggression and hostility that leads to emotional arousal with or without being destructive.”
He said aggression was behaviour when there was personal injury, and it could be either psychological or physical.
Violence as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maladaptive behavior or intense fear of deprivation and insecurity.
“In a nutshell violence breeds more violence,” said Dr Wasif.
“Acts of aggression and violence aired on TV channels not only create anxiety, fear and uncertainty but also shape the personality of the child who adopts such behaviour. They either adopt this or go into seclusion.
“Children are playing video games such as Play Station, car racing games and definitely need guidance from parents,” Dr Wasif said.
Asked what measures should be adopted by TV anchorpersons and bosses to ensure that our children grow a normal, healthy life, Dr Wasif said: “There is a strong need that the media formulate an ethical code of conduct according to the socio-cultural norms of our society through the help of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and consumer groups.”
He said certain advertisements of junk food need to be reviewed since they were causing malnutrition and obesity in children.
“There is a strong need to direct the media firms and advertising agencies to adopt the ethical language. I have come across cases where children and youths have starved themselves to look good after witnessing such advertisements.”