The Effects of Television Violence on Children
Television violence without doubt effects and influences children. Television violence effects children’s development and makes them more aggressive. Children cannot distinguish between the real world and the television world, which makes them more susceptible to the violence on television. It is up to the parents and the television stations to monitor television more closely and restrict violence from children.
According to Websters Dictionary, violence is “rough or injurious physical force, action or treatment, unjust or unwanted exertion of force or power”. In today’s society there is enough violence in every day living that television violence is not necessary, 80 percent of Americans feel that television violence is harmful to our society and there is too much of it in our entertainment (Zuckerman 64).
Violence comes in many forms on television. The violence that will be discussed in this paper are violence’s such as; murders, muggings, rapes and random property destruction (Katz 113). Violence can be viewed in cartoons, soap operas and prime time shows.
Statistics have proven that children view too much television and too much violence. The average child sees 8,000 murders and 10,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school and by the age of eighteen a youngster will see 20,000 acts of murder and 40,00 acts of violence ( Weir 14). Television violence is definitely on the up-rise. Violence acts on television in the past decade had increased eight percent, where as educational programs have only increases three percent, which means that the amount of violent programming and viewing violent programming is twice that of educational programs (Katz 113). Our society should be concentrating on education our children, not scarring them with violence.
One thousand studies have been published world wide on violent entertainment and most experts now agree that the impact on viewers is largely negative (Posch 13). Violence has long lasting effects on children behavior (Katz 113). According to George Cornstock, at least 10 percent of all violent behavior in America’s society is a result of viewing violence in movies and on television(Katz 113). Doctor Belson did a study in 1978 on 1,565 boys from ages 12-17. He exposed them to television violence for six months, he also had fifty judges rate the program for twenty five different forms of violence ( Posch 44). The violent behavior was measured by asking the boys if they had committed any violent crimes in the last five months. The out come showed that a little over on half of the boys had committed a crime or had some sort of aggressive behavior. This experiment proved to Elgor Belson that boys like to watch violent programs which make them more aggressive and more violent (Posch 115).
Study after study has found that children who watch more hours of violent television than average before adolescence were committing such violent crimes as rape and assault at a rate of 49 percent higher than the boys who watched fewer than average hours of violent television. (Weir 14)
Television violence affects youngsters of all ages, both genders and all socioeconomic levels and levels of intelligence ( Wier 14)
Leonard Eron, the chair of the American Psychological Association commission on violence and youth, says television can arouse children to commit violent acts or even teach them techniques (Brady 60). Dr. Park Dietz, a Los-Angeles based psychiatrist,who testified at the 1991 trial of Jeffrey Dohmer (a serial killer),” estimated that 5 percent of assault by urban males in the United States of America is due to antisocial personalities, which television can arouse and cause the individuals to commit a violent act or teach them techniques on how to commit the violent acts(Brady 60).
Television is the most powerful behavioral model for children because of the time spent watching it (Slaby 5). Children will view 10,000-15,000 hours of television before they graduate from school (Slaby 4). Television violence is viewed more because 50 percent of both parents work at least eight hours a day leaving children alone to watch what they want (Weir 4). “The television then becomes the mother, the father, the baby-sitter , the preacher, and the teacher all in one” (Weir 14).
Preschoolers are particularly vulnerable because they are not yet fully able to distinguish fantasy from reality ( Brady 10). Television is especially harmful to those preschoolers who faithfully watch television. It gives many of them the idea that what they see portrayed on the screen as a matter of coarse is what other are expected to do in real life (Berry 13).
Television makes the unthinkable a little more thinkable, a little more O.K. For example, when a violent car accident happens on Television vision, the person heals quickly, even when close to death: when in reality healing is a slow process and the person doesn’t always live. This gives children false guidance and makes them angry and aggressive when things in reality don’t work out this way. Children who view violence are more likely to be developmentally damaged according to Barry Zuckerman , a pediatrician and professor of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston City Hospital/Boston University school of medicine (Zuckerman 64). “Young children often internalize trauma”. They cannot articulate it verbally but we can see it in their drawings and play” (Zuckerman 15). One young boy who viewed a show about a mother being killed and her children being left alone had severe nightmares and drew pictures of boys with gaping mouths scream silently for their mother; another child’s drawings showed a school bus being driven off a cliff with children in it. The child was drawing from what he saw on a Sunday Movie(Zuckerman 14). Other children exhibit signs of traumatic stress disorder which results from too much exposure to a violent television show ( Zuckerman 64). Children often become highly agitated or withdrawn and more pessimistic about the future (Zuckerman 64). “Children also become less sensitive to others, more fearful of the world around them and may be more willing to behave in aggressive harmful ways toward others” (Fitzgerald 13).
Role playing for children is a very important part of a child’s development (Katz 54). When violence is interpreted by children. It falsifies their role playing abilities (Katz 54). It makes them believe that violence is a way to solve problems or just plainly a way of life. Cartoons are a good example of this, children watch cartoons to see a happy fun way of living, but when violence enters the picture, children get the concept that this is how things should be. Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles is thought of to be one of the most violent cartoons that ever appeared on television according to Terry Harrison, a preschool teacher (Brady 60). The sound of a three year old boy yelling “cowabunga” is a war cry that unleashes chaos in the classroom. “Suddenly we are faced with a little gang of ninja’s trying to kick and punch each other in the face,” and when they are told to stop, the boys reply, “The turtles do it so why can’t we?” This is just another example of how children apply behaviors observed on television programs to their real situations (Brady 50). The worst cartoon for children in 1997 and 1998 is probabaly South Park. This cartoon has many accounts of violence in it. There is violence such as derogatory language and numerous violence acts with intent to hurt someone. In fact, every show ends up with the one character, Kenny, encountering a very horrible and repulsive death. The show, when viewed by young children, is a sure ticket for disaster. The show is about elementary children and there different adventures with each other. The children have very foul mouths and many prejudices. The cartoon is definitely not a show that should be viewed by children or even early teens. The show is more based for adults but could be confusing to children because if they see cartoons acting in a violent manner then they will think it is alright to mimic the cartoon’s actions.
A 1991 study of one hundred children’s cartoon programs showed that one half of the cartoons involved violence and showed three times as many acts of violence as Prime Time television (Brady 66). Mohammed Shafi, (1992) a child psychiatrist at the University of Louisville claims that cartoons in the 1990’s are “a public health hazard” Shafii says that cartoons are the worst offenders for children because children can not separate reality from fantasy, and parents are not always around to explain the difference (13). Children’s cartoons are becoming more like movies with violence being the main attraction. “Children are vulnerable and violence is like a Pied Piper that lures them into a darker world” (Zuckerman 13). The survey below, was done on ten cartoon shows, gives an estimated amount of violent acts on cartoons in one hour.
The media’s coverage of violence is also very excessive and may also have a harmful effect on children (Scully 44). Media and public affairs did a study on violence in the news media, and their research showed that violence in news reports doubled in the last year, while the overall national crime rate was unchanged. The study also showed that murder coverage had tripled in 1993 (Scully 44). “Such excessive new coverage actually glamorized violence and give children the impression that violent behavior is acceptable (Scully 44). There are more stories in the news today about violence and crime than any other subject. Television devotes less attention to education than newspaper and magazines, which is bad because television is the most commonly used medium, of the three (Scully 44). Children Now, an advocacy group, states that “the media’s coverage of children most frequently involves reports of crime and violence” (Scully 47). News reports on violence air more frequently than that is actually occurring on the streets (Stem 47). This means children are able to view more violence on television than in actual life, which makes them believe there’s more violence out there. Hillary Clinton spoke earlier this year at a conference on “children and the news media” (Scully 44). She asked journalists to provide more “balanced coverage when reporting on violence” (Stem 47). Clinton also said “good caution and prudence do not violate first amendment rights” (Stem 47). Hillary Clinton, the first lady, is trying to control television violence, she believes something must be done in order to help our children (Stem 47). A retired psychologist in Victoria, Canada, Mary Morrison, said “the screen portrays an angry, hostile world and “television is no longer reflecting the world, but the world is starting to reflect television” (Brady 50).
Many things can be done to control television violence. The first one is a computer chip that would automatically lock out programs rated “V” for violence (Scully 44). The computer chip would be produced by Zenith Consumer Electronics (Scully 44). The chip would be more expensive and it would be added to the price of the television, and would cost ten to twenty dollars more which is a small price to pay (Scully 44).
The computer chip could also be included on the remote control. The parents would have to enter a password in order for shows to be blocked or added to the cable. The only problem with the remote control is that it may be too large at first, but in time, with technology progressing forward at a fast rate, the remote control will be small enough within three to five years (Scully 44). Another way to stop television violence is the rating system which some stations have already adapted (Scully 46). The system would be the same as the movie ratings system except “V” would be used for excessive violence (Scully 46). As of right now, this system is all that parents have to control television violence.
Therefore, it is up to the parents to monitor television more closely and to discuss with their children what the violence on the television means or simply to just shut the television off so they make sure that there won’t be any violent content viewed. Parents have to make sure children know the difference between real violence and television violence.
The last way to control television violence is to stop advertising instruction agencies from placing commercials on during violent programming (Weir 44). This would stop television stations from running violent programs because if advertisers would pull their money the television industry would stand to lose $251 million dollars a year with as little decrease as 1 percent (Weir 44). With this kind of loss advertisers will not be able to run violent programming.
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Katz, L. “How TV Violence Affects Kids.” Parents’ Magazine Jan. 1994: 113
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Scully, S. “V Blocker is Easy Chip Shot Away.” Broadcasting ; Cable Aug. 1993: 64.
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