subject = English title = Television Violence papers = Television Violence Television violence is a negative message of reality to the children who see it. There is an excessive amount of violence being watched in millions of peoples homes every day, and this contributes to the growing amount of violent crimes that are being committed in our communities. This cycle of more and more sex and violence being portrayed as reality on television will not stop until something is done. Not one parent that I know wants his or her children watching people getting blown away and thrown off cliffs. But the reality of it is that parents cannot be there 24 hours a day to monitor what their children are watching. In fact the television is often used as a baby-sitter, so that the parent can do housework, have an adult conversation, or just relax after work.
The types of people who are the most likely to be harmed by the surplus of violence on TV are children. Ed Donnerstein stated in the February 15, 1996 edition of the Boston Globe the following: Violence turns out to do a lot of harm when it looks harmless. One of these lessons children learn watching television is that there are few consequences to the person who commits violence or to the victim. Add to this positive portrayal of negative behavior the fact that childrens programs were least likely to show the bad effects of violence and most likely to make it funny” (Goodman pg. 23).
We are showing children that violence is humorous and it cant do harm. A researcher by the name of Meltzoff studied learning in infants. He concluded that babies start to learn even before birth. A study by Meltzoff demonstrated observational learning in 14-month-olds. After watching an adult on television handling “a novel toy in a particular way,” the babies were able to imitate the behavior when presented with the toy 24 hours later (Wood pg.292).
This study indicates that babies learn imitation very early in life. This is why parents should be more particular with what they allow their susceptible children to view on TV. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, television show for children, is a very good example of how violence on TV can affect our children. It is one of the highest rated kids television shows today. The Power Rangers are everywhere, on everything, from lunch boxes to boxer shorts.
And kids want it all. This creates a bind for the parents who know that these items are not so good for their kids. The Power Rangers is one of the most violent shows around right now and kids love it. The violence in the show has led New Zealand and two of the major networks in Canada to ban the program from their daily schedules. Nancy Carlson-Paige of Lesley College said in the December 1, 1994 Boston Globe,” Locally, teachers see evidence that Power Rangers interferes with normal childhood development. It threatens to undermine childrens mental health because of the way it influences their play” (Meltz pg.
A1). Chris Boyatzis of California State University at Fullerton completed the first scientific study of the impact of Power Rangers on children. It showed that those who watch the show are seven times more aggressive in their play than those who dont (Meltz pg. A1). Micki Corley, head 4-year-old teacher and coordinator of the Preschool Experience in Newton Centre said in the same December 1st Boston Globe,” They are confused by it. They mimic the movements without understanding the consequences. I see kids saying things like, If Im the Red Ranger, Im not really Joe hitting Mary.
Im Tommy or Zack hitting someone evil. But its Mary who is hurt and Mary who cries. You can see the confusion on their faces. Theyll say, But I didnt do that” (Meltz pg. A1).
One can see that at this stage in the preschooler life he or she is not able to distinguish between real and pretend. Kids and Power Rangers supporters will say that the Power Rangers do have good points about them also. They say that the characters show respect for adults, they are likable people, and there is always a moral. In fact, the program labels the morals at the end of each show. What we have to ask ourselves is, “Is it really worth it?” Marilyn Droz, director of research for the National Coalition on Television Violence, conducted a study on the Power Rangers.
This is what she came up with: 1. Seventy percent of the kids who watch the show say the fighting is what they like best. 2. In an hour of Power Rangers programming, there is an average of 211 acts of violence. A typical Saturday morning cartoon hour generally has 25 violent acts per hour. A typical hour of an adult show has six acts of violence (Meltz pg.
A1). The Power Rangers are an entertaining part of our childrens day but the few minutes a day they watch may have severe circumstances. The morals, and views of reality of the kids are shattered. These children do not think that what they are doing is wrong when they hit or kick. They say,” The Power Rangers do it, why cant I?” This makes it even tougher on the parents.
They must explain that what the Power Rangers do on the television set is make believe. This confuses the child because they see it with their own eyes, yet it is not true. We must not pin point the Power Rangers as the one show that influences our childrens violent behavior. Other violent kid TV programs have a similar effect upon children. Cartoons and child programming get most of the attention under this issue because of the damage they can do to the children, but also theatrical movies, and not prime-time series television, bear much of the blame for TVs blood-and-guts reputation.
The UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report, as published by the September 20, 1995 edition of the Boston Globe, stated that of 121 television series airing during the 1994-95 season, 10 were frequently violent or used violence in questionable ways (Elber pg. 84). Television and the American Child by George Comstock, states on page 27, that the National Television Violence Study, which took three years to finish, shows shocking information about what we are viewing everyday. What the analysis of 2,693 television programs from 23 channels showed is that a majority of programs contain what the researchers call “harmful violence.” They found that in 73 percent of the scenes, the violence went unpunished. In nearly half of the programs with slug-fests and shoot-outs, the victims miraculously never appeared harmed.
In 58 percent they showed no pain. In fact, only 16 percent of the programs showed any long-term problems physical, emotional or financial. We must show the children that the things that the characters do, do hurt people, and that violence is never the answer to any problem. We must teach the next generation how to work out his or her problems with his or her “enemy” by talking the problem out with the other, and compromising. Another, more scientific, solution for the problem of violence on TV is the V-chip, technology that would enable parents to block violent programming.
President Clinton said on the matter of the V-chip, as stated in the March 6, 1996 edition of the Boston Globe, “Were handing the TV remote control back to Americas parents so that they can pass on their values and protect their children” (Jackson pg. 15). New president of Creative Coalition, a group that lobbies for First Amendment rights, and ex-actor Christopher Reeves, support the V-chip, if Legislation maintains parental control of television viewing and ensure that only the industry would rate the programs. Reeve recognizes”a serious need” to curb television violence but asserted that the industry, not Congress, was best suited for the job (Hohler pg. 11). I do not agree with the passing of the V-chip. Why should the people who want programs with good morals pay for this? Parents should not have to empty their pockets to block violence and sex.
All programming should be family friendly. If lightweight comedies, public television and weekend sports are not steamy enough, then press your code and unleash AK-47 terror and near-porn into your living room. Instead the Sesame Street viewers have to shell out the cash, instead of the Chainsaw Massacre fans. They should go to the electronic store and buy a television with a S&G-chip, for sex & guts. Let them earn their violence by paying for it.
Parents of peace are about to make electronic stores rich. Fans of gutter and gore do not have to lift a finger for either their clicker or their wallet. I do not believe that we should be trying to solve this problem by putting a mere computer chip into the TV. We need to solve the problem by going to Hollywood and telling the industry that this type of programming in not necessary. We need to tell them to be creative, and use their brains.
They are taking the easy way out by showing this stuff. In the long term we all suffer for it. There probably will never be an end to the controversy of television violence. We are getting more and more information and on the effects of television violence. All of these findings have produced an increasing awareness of the basic problem and of the need for change. We know excessive viewing of television violence is harmful to the viewer.
It is time we take a solid stand on the issue and tell the producers of these shows that we dont want them. Bibliography Comstock, George. Television and the American Child. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., 1991. Elber, Lynn. “Getting to the Heart of TV Violence”.
Boston Globe, 20 September 1995: Page 84. Goodman, Ellen. “How to Zap Violence on TV”. Boston Globe, 15 February 1996: Page 23. Hohler, Bob.
“Christopher Reeve Argues Against Federal Censorship of TV, Urges Hollywood to Adopt Own Rules”. Boston Globe, 24 February 1994: Page 11. Jackson, Derrick. “A G-chip, Not a V-chip”. Boston Globe, 6 March 1996: Page 15.
Meltz, Barbara. “Beware Rangers Mixed Messages, Sidebar I: How Parents Can Become Involved, Sidebar II: Share Your Holiday Strategies”. Boston Globe, 1 December 1994: Page A1. Wood, Samuel. The World of Psychology.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.