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Pain occurs in social contexts.

Pain in the Media

With increasing media consumption among children and adolescents, children’s TV shows and movies play a vital role in the socialization of painful experiences. 

The issue:

Children and adolescents are frequently exposed to pain in popular media (e.g., TV shows and movies). The way pain is portrayed can influence their experiences and perceptions of pain. 

What we found:

Although pain is frequently portrayed in young children’s media, there is:

- underrepresentation of different types of pain (medical/procedural, chronic type pain)

- numerous maladaptive portrayals of pain (lack of empathy and observer responses to pain)

- gender differences in both sufferer and observer responses (boys experiencing more pain/ higher distress, observers showing more concern for girls in pain)

What's next:

After characterizing the way pain is portrayed in young children’s popular media, we are now examining how it is portrayed in adolescent popular media. In the future, we hope to identify how these can be harnessed to improve pain experiences into adulthood.

Pain is real. Change the conversation.