The data show that the strength of these relationships is greater than more widely accepted medical associations, such as those between calcium intake and bone mass, lead ingestion and lower IQ, and condom nonuse and sexually acquired HIV infection, the authors asserted.
In fact, they wrote, the associations between violence on screen or in games and really life aggression are nearly as strong as the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
Though pediatricians have accepted this as fact, they said, the American public, politicians, and parents have been slow to respond, and violent media remains easily accessible.
"Although exposure to media violence is not the sole factor contributing to aggression, antisocial attitudes, and violence among children and adolescents, it is an important health risk factor on which we, as pediatricians and members of a compassionate society, can intervene," the authors said.
They recommended that doctors routinely ask children how much TV they watch, and if there's a TV in the child's bedroom.
If the youngster reports heavy media usage, the panel said the doctor should "evaluate the child for aggressive behaviors, fears, or sleep disturbances."
Meanwhile, the group called on the entertainment industry to make its products friendlier to children. Its reports included the following suggestions:
Do not glamorize weapon carrying.
Eliminate the use of violence in a comic or sexual context.
Eliminate gratuitous portrayals of interpersonal violence.
The pain and loss suffered by victims should be shown if violence must be used.
Music lyrics should be made easily available to parents so they can read them before purchasing music.
Video games should not use humans or other living targets and points should not be awarded for killing.
Violent video games should be limited to age-restricted areas of arcades.
"Pediatricians and other child healthcare providers can advocate for a safer media environment for children by encouraging media literacy, more thoughtful and proactive use of media by children and their parents, more responsible portrayal of violence by media producers, and more useful and effective media ratings," the authors said.