Media Exposure to Armed Conflict: Dispositional Optimism and Self-Mastery Moderate Distress and Post-Traumatic Symptoms among Adolescents

Ayelet Pe’er, Michelle Slone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Rapid technological developments enable the immediate transmission of armed conflict events through a variety of media channels, inducing mass anxiety, fear, and helplessness. Youth are particularly vulnerable and face new challenges as a result of this exposure. The effects of media exposure to such events on psychological distress and post-traumatic symptoms were examined. Methods: A total of 161 participants aged 13–18 years completed a questionnaire battery that included measures of media exposure to armed conflict events, previous direct exposure to armed conflict events, psychological distress, post-traumatic symptoms, dispositional optimism, and self-mastery. A structural equation model (SEM) approach was employed for data analysis. Results: The extent of media exposure to armed conflict was directly associated with psychological distress and post-traumatic symptoms. Dispositional optimism moderated the association between media exposure and psychological distress, while self-mastery moderated the association between media exposure and post-traumatic symptoms. The effects of the Internet factor of media exposure, which included social media, were particularly disturbing as neither of the resilience factors moderated negative outcomes. Conclusions: The findings suggest that clinical interventions to enhance dispositional optimism and self-mastery as well as other potential resilience factors can protect adolescents from the severe effects of media exposure to violent armed conflict events. Developmental and public health implications related to vulnerabilities and resilience during adolescence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11216
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • armed conflict
  • media
  • optimism
  • post-traumatic symptoms
  • resilience
  • self-mastery

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