But 82 per cent of children interviewed by Guy Cumberbatch, senior lecturer in applied psychology at Aston University, found violence in news more upsetting than in videos or computer games. The research, involving 305 children aged between 13 and 18, backs up work to be published later this year by Mark Allerton, a researcher at the Institute of Education, which found that children find TV violence in real-life programmes the most worrying because they know that it is real.
"Children can tell the difference between fantasy and reality," Mr Allerton said. "The more real an image is, the more frightening they find it." Mr Allerton believes efforts to increase regulation of videos are misplaced. "Rather than making these things forbidden fruit, we should be teaching children to grow up to be critical viewers who can deal with something that they find scary."
In the Aston research, 63 per cent of children said they had never been upset by violence in films or videos and 72 per cent said there was a difference between violence in videos and in life. For computer games, the figures were 93 per cent and 83 per cent.