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Guns and movies

Seasonal Greetings from Mount Olympus, where Lucina has again been arguing with her fellow deities.

Mars, the God of War, insists that exposure to fighting skills is essential for character development. I’m not so sure. Over the holiday season, many of you will be settling down to watch a film with younger relatives. It might be worth checking how much gun-related violence it contains, if the results of a remarkable experiment from Columbus, Ohio are to be believed (Dillon K et al. JAMA Peds 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2229). They recruited 104 children (60% boys) aged 8–12 years and randomised them, in pairs, to watch one of two versions of a 20 min movie: one contained explicit gun use, and the other had these scenes edited out. Each pair was then allowed to play unsupervised in a room stocked with toys, unsupervised but video-recorded. The ‘toys’ included a real handgun which had been disabled. The gun-movie-exposed group spent five times as much time playing …

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