When families sit down to watch television, they expect to watch family type of shows. Family type shows meaning rated PG or PG13, sitcoms and movies that do not include weapons, killing, foul language, and non-socially accepted actions. When children killing, they start to believe that it is accepted. Do children think that killing and hurting others and themselves have little meaning to the real life, children can become traumatized. Most killers or violators of the law blame their behavior on the media, and the way that television portrays violators. Longitudinal studies tracking viewing habits and behavior patterns of a single individual found that 8-year-old boys, who viewed the most violent programs growing up, were the most likely to engage in aggressive and delinquent behavior by age 18 and serious criminal behavior by age 30 (Eron, 1). Most types of violence that occur today links to what people see on television, act out in video games or cyberspace games, or hear in music. Media adds to the violence that exists today and in the past few decades. It will continue in the future if it is not recognized as a possible threat to our society. When kids go to a movie, watch television, play video games or even surf the web, they become part of what they see and hear. Soaking violence in their heads long enough becomes a part of the way they think, acts, and live. The line between pretend and reality gets blurred.
Children spend more time learning about life through media than in any other manner. The average child spends approximately twenty-eight hours a week watching television, which is twice as much time as they spend in school (Dietz, 75). According to the American Psychological Association, the average American child views 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence before finishing elementary school. In
addition the average American child will witness over 200,000 acts of violence on television including 16,000 murders before the age of 18 (DuRant, 445). Polls show that three-quarters of the public find television entertainment too violent. When asked to select measures that would reduce violent crime a lot, Americans chose restrictions on television violence more often than gun control. Media shows too much violence that is corrupting the minds children, future leaders of our society. In a study of population data for various countries showed homicide rates doubling within the 10 to 15 years after the introduction of television, even though television was introduced at different times in each site examined (Harding, 72). According to the National Television Violence Study, the context in which violence is portrayed is as important to its impact as the amount of violence. The study concluded that 66% of childrens programming had violence. Of the shows with violent content three-quarters demonstrated unpunished violence and when violence occurred 58% of the time, victims were not shown experiencing pain. That makes the children think that violence is just like riding a bike, simple as that (NTVS, 1-2).
Parents try not to let their children watch shows that they would watch due to the fact that there is a lot of violence that occurs. When parents sit down and watch the cartoons that their children are watching, they can notice that the violence is incredibly higher. The level of violence during Saturday morning cartoons is higher than the level of violence during prime time. There are 3 to 5 violent acts per hour in prime time, versus the 20-25 acts per hour on Saturday morning. Media violence is especially damaging to young children (under age 8) because they cannot easily tell the difference
between real life and fantasy. Violent images on television and in movies may seem real to young children. Viewing violent images can traumatize innocent children (NTVS, 1-2).
There is a strategy to help the children understand that what they are watching is not educational. You can tell your child that you are curious about whether TV is getting more violent or less. Ask him to help you out by counting the number of violent things that happen on the show. A sheet of paper of paper or a small notebook can help him keep track easily. The level of violence during Saturday morning cartoons is higher than the level of violence during prime time. There are 3 to 5 violent acts per hour in prime time, versus the 20-25 acts per hour on Saturday morning. Media violence is especially damaging to young children (under age 8) because they cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy. Violent images on television and in movies may seem real to young children. Viewing these images can traumatize them (Broder, 1).
Along with children being traumatized by viewing violent images, media violence affects children by increasing aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, increasing their fear of becoming victims, making them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, increasing their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life. Media violence often fails to show the consequences of violence (Harding, 72). This is especially true of cartoons, toy commercials and music videos. As a result, children learn that there are few if any repercussions for committing violent acts.
Not only does violent acts in television affect children, so does the music business. In September 1995, Warner Music bowed to the pubic pressure and announced
it was severing its 50% stake in Interscope Records, home to Nine Inch Nails and controversial rap artists Snoop Doggy Dog and Dr. Dre. Rap artists simply turned to a different distribution network and their CDs continue to hit the stores with lyrics, which glorify guns, rape, and murder. Recently, the Recording Industry of America conducted a survey and found that many parents do not even know what lyrics are contained in the popular music their children listen to. Children and teens are going to the stores and buying CDs with parental warning labels and the store clerks not asking for proper ID or parents approval. Entertainment Monitor reported that only 10 if the top 40 popular CDs on sale during the 1995 holiday season were free of profanity, or lyrics dealing with drugs, violence and sex. That is 25% of the CDs that were on sale in the top 40 were acceptable for children. But that does not mean that children only bought that 25% of music that was free of the violence that is corrupting children (Newsweek, 12).
What happened in Littleton Colorado at Columbine High School was a massive killing frenzy. The two boys to went into rage and began killing their peers at their high school and blamed their misery on thoughts that were derived from lyrics of music. The musicians that were blamed for the Littleton massacre creators madness has said that their lyrics were not written to make people do crimes such as killing. But why are the people blaming their actions on what musicians are saying in their songs (Durant, 446). There has to be enough meaning to the song that it is causing the students to act in such a violent way. There are a number of musicians and songwriters that may be disturbed and sing about violent actions. Children are nave to the lyrics and are prone to accept them as normal.
Violent artists include Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and Emenim. Parents should be aware of the “Parental Advisory – Explicit Content” label on the front cover of the Marilyn Manson CD. “Antichrist Superstar” contains profanity and deals with topics that could offend listeners who are sensitive to issues such as violence, religion, and death. It promotes a feeling of hatred and anger toward anything dealing with the status quo, and contains morbid content and disturbing lyrics meant to shock the listener. (ScreenIt!, 1).
Although there has been less research on the effects of violence in video games and the Internet because they are new and changing technologies, there is little reason to doubt that findings from other media studies will apply here too. Young children instinctively imitate actions they observe, without always possessing the intellect or maturity to determine if such actions are appropriate. Due to their role-modeling capacity to promote real world violence, there is deep concern that playing violent video games, with their fully digitalized human images, will cause children to become more aggressive towards other children and become more tolerant of, and more likely to engage in, real-life violence (McAfee,1994).
The Internet could become a stalking ground for child molesters who have moved from the playground to the Internet attracted by the anonymity it offers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has documented more than a dozen cases in the last year of cyberspace seduction by pedophiles in which children were lured by on-line predators into traveling to locations hundreds of miles from their homes where they were then sexually assaulted (NCFMEC, 1). The Internet doesnt promote child molestation, but it is a place where children are exploring the technology world. Just like music and television, there is entertainment for all ages on the Internet. Video games can even be played on the Internet. Video games and the Internet are interrelated because of the fact they are both interactive. As a part of growing up, children interact with learning resources and when the resources become negative and violent, then children learn to think violence is not bad.
Jean Delaney, a school teacher in IL, believes that all violence in the media is not negative and can be used as a learning tool. Stores sell numerous amounts of video games that lack violence. Children can learn from video games as well as the Internet that maybe beneficial to them. Just like the violence in television and music can make children realize that what they are seeing is wrong and recognize that in the real world. Violence does not make every child believe that what they are seeing is ok. (Interview)
If children are exposed to too much violence, the children can adapt to those mechanisms and start to believe that they are ok. When a child blames his/her violent actions on something they learned from television, music, or video games, something is occurring in the home that can be prevented. Media violence is an ongoing occurrence in regular non-cable television shows and is available to children to preview. Even if every restriction were placed on television shows, there would still be a way for children to view it. Movies, music, and the Internet are all ways that a child can get ideas and bring them out to the real world causing violence.
1.Dr. Leonard Eron, University of Illinois at Chicago, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Communications, June 12, 1995.
2.Dietz. WH and Gortmacher, SL (1985) Pediatrics, 75,807-812; and Tucker, L.A. (1986) Adolescent, 21, 7970806.
3.DuRant RH, Baranowski T, Johnson M,. The relationship among television watching, physical activity, and body composition of young children. Pediatrics. 1999;94:445-449.
4. Robert E. McAfee, M.D., Immediate Past President, American Medical Association, Testimony before House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, June 1994.
5. “An Unbiased Voice in the Word War,” The Washington Post, November 8, 1995.
6. Anyamwu E, Harding GF, Jeavons PM, “Telephillic Syndrome” In Pattern and PhotoSensitivity Epilepsy: Report of Three Cases. East Afr Med J. 1995;72:402-405.
7. Fighting Media Violence. www.familyeducation.com
8. Interview, Jean Delaney, 54, Arlington Heights, IL.
9. Marilyn Manson. www.screenit!.com