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The relationship between media exposure and mental health in children following Kahramanmaraş earthquakes in Turkey.

PURPOSE: We aimed to explore the relationship between media exposure to the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes and its impact on children's mental health difficulties.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study was conducted with 409 parents between March and July 2023. Parents were invited to participate in an online survey through social media platforms. The data was collected using the 'Descriptive Characteristics Form', the 'Media Exposure Form Related to the Earthquake', and the 'Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire'.

RESULTS: The results indicated that exposure to images of earthquake-related events on the first day after the earthquake (p < 0.001), people rescued alive from the rubble on television (p < 0.001), earthquake victims staying on the streets/in tents on television (p = 0.006), and earthquake-related events while alone on the Internet (p = 0.02) were significantly associated with the impact of children's mental difficulties. Furthermore, exposure to images of people pulled deceased from the rubble (p < 0.001), exposure to images of demolished houses on the Internet (p = 0.007), and exposure to images of destroyed roads on the Internet (p = 0.01) were found to significantly predict the impact of children's mental difficulties (r2  = 0.29; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown that children who are exposed to screen media may experience difficulties in coping mentally, leading to emotional and behavioral problems.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Children who have experienced natural disasters may be exposed to distressing images on screen, which can lead to difficulties and stress. To reduce the risk of mental health problems related to disasters, nurses may suggest that victims limit their exposure to television footage.

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