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Kids And Tv Violence Essay, Research Paper

Television violence affects kids

Littleton, Colorado; Springfield, Oregon; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Pearl, Mississippi. These previously unknown suburban cities will forever be branded into our minds. These cities are linked by one devastating factor: young students firing upon fellow students and educators. The entire country is wondering what causes these young peoples violent shooting sprees. Although the events are too recent to fully understand their causes, we can try to understand what led to the disastrous situations.

The impact of television violence on youth behavior has been an issue for many years. Television stations and their executives tend to deny television s contribution to youth violence. Unfortunately, there is a direct correlation between television viewing and violence. This provides one plausible cause for the appalling rise in violence on Americas school campuses.

Television has had a profound impact on American society. This impact is due to the fact that the television has become standard in many homes. In 1949, only two percent of homes had a television. Today, the opposite is true; only two percent of homes do not have a television. (Murray 1). Television is used to inform, entertain, and educate the public. Children make up a large part of television viewers. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that American Children watch an average of three to four hours of television daily (AACAP, 1). Unfortunately many children are left home alone after school, thus their television viewing is not restricted.

Violence on television has notably increased in the last 25 years. William Goodwin stated A five year study by the American Psychological Association found that the average child witnesses 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television by the seventh grade (45). John Murray acknowledges this statement and adds that 5 violent acts per hour occur during prime time and 20-25 violent acts occur during Saturday morning children s programming. (Murray 5) Therefore, some children could be watching 95-125 acts of violence on television every week! These violent acts can pose a threat to the mind of our young children. These effects may be noticeable in the early stages of life or may remain unnoticed for many years, even into adulthood.

Various government officials have addressed this problem. In 1994, Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders said By portraying violence as the normal means of conflict resolution, the media gives youth the message that violence is socially acceptable and the best way to solve problems. After 10 years of research, we know that a correlation exists between violence on television and aggressive behavior in children (Goodwin, 47-48). Research results in two different studies strengthen Elders statement. One study shows that two years after television was introduced to the remote city of Notel, Canada, physical aggression in children in the area increased 160 percent (Goodwin, 48). Once television arrived in South Africa, the homicide rates among whites, which had been in the decline, increased 130 percent in twelve years (Goodwin, 49). There may have been other factors that contributed to the increase in violence, but, these studies show that television does have an impact on behavior.

There have been other studies that also demonstrate the effects of violence on youth. For example, a study by AACAP found that as a result of TV violence, children may: become immune to the horror of violence; gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems; imitate violence they observe on television; and identify with certain characters, victims, or victimizers. (AACAP,1) As a member of The Children s Broadcast Institute, Toronto child psychiatrist Dr. Arlette Lefebrve was actively crusading against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a show which was eventually taken off the air; but not necessarily due to violent content). She found following examples of the impact the show had on younger viewers: A six-year-old boy wearing a turtle costume stabbed a friend in the arm for not returning a borrowed toy; A three-year- old boy picked up the family cat and swung it around his head like a Turtle hero wielding a weapon. These studies are not without controversy, but are enough evidence to convince some researchers that there is an effect of early violence viewing on later aggressive behavior (Murray, 4).

A relationship has been established between youth violence and television violence in the above paragraphs. Now we must ask how can we reduce the impact of violence on television. The easiest way would be through parental limitation of their children s television viewing. Parents can limit television viewing by reducing the number of hours children are allowed to watch. This will limiting the number of violent acts they see. This will also free up more time for more beneficial activities such as reading, socializing, playing sports or developing other hobbies. Unfortunately most parents work outside the home, and since no one is home to enforce the limited viewing some children will not follow. In 1996, President Clinton signed a Telecommunications Act into law. This act required any television thirteen inches or larger to contain a V-Chip. This chip allows parents to block material that the Parental Advisory System (PAS) considers inappropriate for children. The PAS sorts television programs into six groups according to their amount of violence, foul language, and sexuality.

In April 1995, the Federal Communications Commission announced a rule making procedure (FCC, 1995) that would enhance the implementation of the Children s Television Act of 1990. In the proposed rules, broadcasters would be required to air three hours of educational programming for children each week. Increasing the number of educational shows will improve the quality of education our children receive from television. Children s shows like the Teletubbies, Mr. Rogers, or Sesame Street improve children s social skills and do not surround them with violent images. It is too still too early to assess the impact on youth behavior. Since 1995, I believe more television stations are attempting to limit violent programming. The number of nonviolent programs has increased over the last four years; but many violent programs still exist. Programs, such as the Power Rangers, still amuse our children with various violent acts. Fortunately programs, like Arthur, The Big Comfy Couch, Wishbone, and Blues Clues, have been on the increase and have taken over many of the early morning time slots. The FCC s ruling has helped station operators realize the problem and take steps to improve children s programming. Now that more programming is pro-social, hopefully the juvenile crime rate will go down in the years to come. Unfortunately, we will have to wait and see what happens.

The television is a powerful form of media. The effects of television violence on young, impressionable minds have been studied and reveal that television violence has some effect on youth behavior. Fortunately, government officials and television networks have taken steps to limit the amount of violence on TV. They too have recognized the direct link between television viewing and violence.

Works Cited

Children & TV Violence. American Academy of

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. No. 13, April

1999 www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/violence.htm

Goodwin, William. Teen Violence

Lucent Books, 1998.

Landau, Elaine. Teenage Violence. Englewood

Cliffs, CO: Julian Messner, 1990.

Murray, John P. Children and Television Violence.

Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, 1993.

Volume 4, Number 3, pp 7-14


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