Television Violence and Children
Television has been hailed by many as the greatest invention ever created and as such, it has wrought a great influence towards each and every person. Through the television, we were able to view several important events throughout our history such as the very first trip to the moon, the tragedy of the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center and other such disasters and major events. On average, American children watch about three to four hours of television everyday with half almost half having the television set in their own bedroom. Consequently, it has become an influential factor towards the development of a child’s values and behavior.
Nowadays, there is an assortment of shows from movies to cable television and even commercial ads that features a lot of violence. Coupled with a lesser degree of supervision from parents, children are constantly exposed to themes of violence. Due to this, the children’s television act was enacted wherein research into the topic was required. Several studies have found out that a lengthy exposure to television violence causes aggressiveness levels to rise. Furthermore, it has been found out that being exposed to TV violence can lead to children becoming immune to the idea of violence, accepting violence as something that can solve their problems, imitate what they see in television as well as identify with the characters on television that display violent behavior. It was in the year 1964 that television was found out to be a strong influence to the behavior of a child.
Parents themselves can limit the effects of television violence by modeling appropriate behaviors and limiting the amount and nature of the show that children watch especially amongst younger children in from the toddler and preschool age.
- “What one learns about life from the television screen seems to be transmitted to the next generation,” Leonard Eron, from The University of Michigan who chairs the APA Commission on Violence and Youth
- “I don’t know anyone in peace studies who doesn’t think ads, TV and movies in a very significant way affect violence against women and violence by gangs. The burden of proof needs to fall not on those trying to show a positive correlation, but on those who continue to promote violence and use it as entertainment.” Robin Crews, a professor at the University of Colorado who heads a group of activist academics called the Peace Studies Association
Scenario / Situation
- With American children glued to the TV for an average of 27 hours each week (in the inner city it’s often 11 hours per day), the American Psychological Association (APA) now estimates that a typical child will watch 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school.
- In the mid-1980s, 13-year-old Juan Valdez of Manteca, Calif., confessed to murdering a friend’s father. Having kicked, stabbed, beaten and choked the man with a dog chain, the boy was asked why he also poured salt on the victim’s wounds. “Oh, I don’t know,” he replied, “I just seen it on TV.”
Children learn most through visual stimulation and as such, they tend to imitate the behaviors they observe regardless whether it is negative or positive. Even if children imitate the behaviors of “good guys” in shows or movies, these are still aggressive in nature and they learn that fighting is the solution for conflicts as well as violence as an acceptable means of resolving problems. Furthermore, children who are exposed for a lengthier time to television violence have demonstrated difficulties in problem solving and poor interpersonal relationships.
It can’t be denied that television has certain adverse effects on our society. Ever since the television’s inception, crime rates have steadily increased. Nowadays, even the school, a center for education and learning have become almost like war zones as there have been incidents of school shootings. Previous studies have shown that children as young as 5 years old, has the ability to understand the behavioral content of television shows. Another study, which experimented on four year old children have found out that their behavior during play was influenced by the aggressive behavior they see on television. These problems have been blamed partly, on the violence that children are exposed to everyday while watching television plus the given fact that there is excessive violence and sex on television.
As a result, the present content of these shows contribute largely to both physical and verbal aggression of children which are evident in various situations. Children who have been continuously exposed to violent themes may take these characteristics as something that is ordinary and usual in the real world which may lead them to conclude that violence is both acceptable and the standard. Thus, these children, once they grow up may show indifference to violence and deem it suitable.
Quotation One: In the words of a recent American Psychological Association (APA) report, “the accumulated research clearly demonstrates a correlation between viewing violence and aggressive behavior — that is, heavy viewers behave more aggressively than light viewers.”
Article Title: TV Violence By Charles S. Clark
Works Cited Information: American Psychological Association Quoted in TV Guide, op. cit.
Quotation Two: “I don’t know anyone in peace studies who doesn’t think ads, TV and movies in a very significant way affect violence against women and violence by gangs. The burden of proof needs to fall not on those trying to show a positive correlation, but on those who continue to promote violence and use it as entertainment.”
Article Title: TV Violence By Charles S. Clark
Works Cited Information: Robin Cooks as Quoted in Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1992.
First Piece of Evidence:
Violence has been popularly depicted ever since and especially now when advancements in technology presents a means to deliver to audiences a realistic show which contains detailed scenes and a rapid sequence of action. Even cartoons nowadays can be described as containing aggressive and at times, even violent themes which is one major source of problem. In a survey of elementary school educators, it was found out that the show “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” can cause confusion between what is real and what is fantasy. One teacher even reported that “Several children really thought it was OK to use physical violence with other children because [the turtles] do that,”
Article Title: , “The Subversion of Healthy Development and Play: Teachers’ Reactions to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
Works Cited Information: Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Diane E. Levin, “The Subversion of Healthy Development and Play: Teachers’ Reactions to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Day Care and Early Education, winter 1991.
Second Piece of Evidence:
In several studies and research conducted by various groups, the reactions of children were studied wherein they were shown a scene of a man punching an inflatable toy and being rewarded with sweets and candy. Another study, meanwhile, compared the level of aggression of a child after watching a combat that features cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and tom Jerry and comparing it to other shows such as Lassie. Researchers also studied how homicide rates were affected by watching televised boxing matches and even noting increases in suicide rates following the TV shows which depict suicide. Accordingly, results show that there were measurable increases of three to fifteen percent of causative effects.
Article Title: Television as a Social Issue
Works Cited Information: Stuart Oskamp (ed.), Television as a Social Issue, (1988), p. 190.
Carlsson-Paige, Nancy and Levin, Diane. The Subversion of Healthy Development and Play: Teachers’ Reactions to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Day Care and Early Education, winter 1991.
Cooks, Robin as Quoted in Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1992
Huesmann, Rowell and Miller, Laurie (1994). Long-term effects of repeated exposure to media violence in childhood. In L. Rowell Huesmann (ed.) Aggressive Behavior, (pp. 153-186), New York: Plenum Press.
Stuart Oskamp (ed.), Television as a Social Issue, (1988), p. 190.