According to Ohio State University researchers, the amount of gun violence shown in PG-13 films has more than tripled since 1985, the year the rating was introduced.
“It’s shocking how gun use has skyrocketed in movies that are often marketed directly at the teen audience,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University. The study was recently published online in the journal Pediatrics.
Bushman said the results are concerning because other research has revealed the presence of a “weapons effect”: People who simply see a gun, or even a picture of a gun, are more aggressive toward others.
“Based on what researchers have found, it is not good for teens to be viewing this much gun violence in films,” he said.
Overall, findings showed that the rate of violent sequences nearly quadrupled from 1950 to 2010. Since 1985, 94 percent of the movies studied (367 in total) had one or more five-minute segments that included violence. Overall, the films contained 700 segments with gun violence.
“The trend of increasing gun violence in PG-13 movies is disturbing because of what we know about the weapons effect and because those are the films kids are most attracted to,” Bushman said. “In addition, these movies essentially provide young people scripts for how to use guns in real life, as we have seen in copycat killings. It is a bad situation.”