Barrage of News about Violence on TV


So, what is this [barrage of news about violence] doing to us?

It depends on the individual, but living in a digitally linked world where broadcasts of violence are instantaneous and almost commonplace means that many of us are becoming desensitized, Anita Gadhia-Smith, a psychologist in Washington, said Friday.

“With the frequency of shootings and terror attacks there is a sense of anxiety that’s building in people,” she said, “a sense of vulnerability and powerlessness.”

Dr. Smith added: “There is a heightened alarm, but there can also be some desensitization that’s happening.”

The constant stream of news on social media can also be traumatic. A team of researchers at the University of Bradford in England told a British psychology conference last year that exposure to violent imagery on social media can cause symptoms that are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, defined as a persistent emotional reaction to a traumatic event that severely impairs one’s life.

In an analysis conducted by the Bradford researchers, 189 participants were shown images and provided with stories of violent events, including the Sept. 11 attacks, school shootings and suicide bombings.

The researchers’ analysis showed that 22 percent of those who participated were significantly affected by what they saw.

The study also found that people who view violent events more often were more affected than people who saw them less frequently, and that people who described themselves as extroverts with outgoing personalities were at a higher risk to be disturbed by the images.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.