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Effects Tv Violence On Childre Essay, Research Paper

The Effects of Televised Violence on Children

Today, American children watch an average of three to four hours of television daily, which averages out to be twenty-eight hours per week. Many people may not be aware of how powerful an influence Television is on developing values and forming behavioral patterns in children s lives. Sadly, much of today s television programs are violent.

Children age eight and under are effected the most by these acts of violence seen on TV daily. This age is very crucial in a child s development; they are learning social behavior that will stay with them throughout their lives. At this age, small children have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality. Studies have shown that here is when they begin to form their beliefs about aggression. These TV shows are sending the message to children across America that yes, violence is acceptable and that no one is willing to stop it.

We need to realize that small children see these cartoon characters, WWF wrestlers, and super heroes as role models, they want to be just like them. My own seven year old cousin had his forehead split open after his friend decided to hit him over the head with a fold-up chair, which is done on WWF by one of their wrestlers. His friend s response was that the man on TV never ends up hurt. This is why we need to view these shows through the eyes of a child, we know and understand that it is so fake and far fetched on TV for anyone to believe that there is any truth in it that we many times assume that young children do to. Unfortunately they don t and if they continue to watch this violence on TV only more and more children are going to end up with split foreheads, if not worse. Studies have also shown that young girls who often watched TV shows featuring aggressive heroines in the 1970s have grown up to be more aggressive adults involved in more confrontations, shoving matches, chokings, and knife fights than woman who watched fewer or none of these shows.

According to psychological research, violence on television negatively affects children. Hundreds of studies of the effects of televised violence on children have found that children may:

h Become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others

h May become fearful of the world around them

h Gradually accept violence as a way of life or a way to solve problems

h Imitate the violence they observe, or identify with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers

h They may also be more likely to behave in aggressive ways towards others

Sometimes, watching a single violent program can increase aggressiveness. Many times when children view programs where the violence is quite realistic or those who act in such violence go unpunished, they are more likely to imitate what they have just seen. Here are just a few tragic examples of what children are learning from televised violence.

In 1982 when the movie the Deer Hunter was broadcasted on cable TV, shortly after several people had killed themselves while playing a game known as Russian roulette which involves a gun, this game had been featured in the movie. Not to long ago several American youths died while imitating a scene in the movie the Program, a movie financed by Disney. In this movie the youths laid themselves down in the middle of a highway. However, in the movie no one was killed, unfortunately in real-life several young people were killed. Even more recent a 17-year-old French youth blew himself up. He was trying to make himself a bomb with a bicycle handle; he had learned how to do this on an episode of MaGyver. Then there is the 5-year-old boy who killed his younger sister in a house fire after watching an episode of Beavis and Butthead. These are just a few examples of what TV violence is doing to America today. Assume that for the sake of argument, that every copycat crime reported in the media can be plausibly is traced to TV and the movies. If you were able to make an extremely high estimate those resulting carnage results in 100 deaths per year that would not otherwise have taken place. These would amount to 0.28 percent of the total of 36,000 murders, accidents, and suicides committed by gunshot in the United States. The media violence contributes to an atmosphere, in which violence is acceptable, where this often becomes an urgent social problem for everyone.

When children are sitting down in front of the TV set watching their favorite cartoons which are often filled with what you may think as harmless acts of violence, which seem to entertain children hours on end. We need to understand first of that any act of violence seen on TV or not is harmful and we can no longer look to it as entertainment. This is actually educational, it is educating your child how to behave in life and has long term effects, much longer than the forty minutes the cartoon or show may run for. This is not the education most parents are hoping their child to learn we need to realize that children are learning all the time. Unfortunately these shows are teaching children to become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, the are learning to become immune to violence, to become fearful of the world, they are also learning to kill themselves and others, shown in the examples above. That is what I feel is the scariest part of television violence is that these young children s minds are being polluted with such negative influences.

Violence is everywhere we look. Although we may not be able to control violence everywhere, we are cable of controlling it in our TV rooms. It is one thing to be aware of it and learn ways to avoid it but having young children view it daily is only making the problem worse. We need to bring children away from some of the worst types of viewing violence. The National Television Violence Association conducted a study on types of violence; the following is based on their findings:

1. Unpunished Violence V More than one-third of violent programs on TV feature bad characters who are never punished at any time in the plot. The biggest perpetrators of this type of violence include police and detective dramas. In addition, many action-adventure shows allow the villain to remain untouched until the end of the program. A punishment must occur in the same scene in order for a young child to connect it to the original behavior, explains Dr. Wilson.

2. Painless Violence- As crucial as it is for children to see violence punished, it s equally important for them to see how it affects people. Yet roughly half the violent incidents on television show no physical harm or pain to the victim, says Dr. Wilson. The message that violence is not serious.

3. Happy Violence- you might begin to think that your child is safer when watching kid s programs. Not so, according to Joanne Cantor, Ph.D., professor of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of Mommy, I m Scared. She points out that the worst offenders may be cartoons featuring happy violence. Says Dr. Cantor; Happy violence is the kind in which characters like Wile E. Coyote are repeatedly injured to invoke laughter from the viewer . Watching this type of humor can desensitize kids to the seriousness of violence and teach them that violence is desirable, effective, and painless.

4. Characters that are attractive role models initiate heroic Violence- Nearly 40 percent of the violent incidents on TV. Because kids learn from and emulate these characters, experts point out that the good guy who acts violently t protect a loved on or save mankind may pose more of a risk to children than villains. Classic examples: Batman and the Power Rangers, yet parents recognize that they can t completely insulate their children from television and that they shouldn t toss out their set, their by depriving youngsters of the quality and educational programs TV does offer.

These four examples are what are known to be the biggest risk to your child of watching televised violence.

Televised violence is being recognized more and more as a problem. One solution that TV stations have been using is the TV rating system. Where a letter will appear on your set, letting you and your family know if the TV show is suitable for children. At first this new system was thought to be a great idea, but realistically is being noticed as a band-aid solution to what the actual problem at hand is, which is and has been the TV shows content. Research shows that amoung American children s shows, 81 percent with violence do not receive an FV on screen, which stands for fantasy violence. Shows with acts of violence featured in the program should be receiving a V- chip on screen, warning parents of violence contained in the show. If the show contains any sexual content, and S-chip should also appear on your screen. However; a recently aired Walker, Texas Ranger that featured a stabbing, an assault, and a rape attempt received neither a V-chip nor an S-chip. The only program that does warn views to watch with caution before each episode is N.Y.P.D. Blue, which actually shows the pain and suffering one endures after a co-worker or family member has been hurt or killed by an act of violence. This all shows that we are the ones who need to be responsible for what it is that our children are watching, that we can not simply rely on a TV rating system to protect our children, we need to sit down with them and see for ourselves what it is that they are intaking every day for hours into their minds.

There is definitely ways for parents to prevent their children from being effected by televised violence. Basically, parents need to spend more time checking up on what it is that their child is watching. If you have time watch their shows with them. Set limitations on how much television time is allowed; do not use your TV set as a baby-sitter! Point out to your child the difference between fantasy and reality let them know that these acts of violence in real life do have severe consequences. You also have the ability to refuse to let your child watch such shows that have a bad reputation for being violent. Also, if your child happens if your child happens to be watching a show with such violence, simply turn off the sound or change the channel and explain to your child why the featured behavior is not acceptable. Allow your child to ask questions; teach them the reality of what they have seen. Try your hardest in instilling in your child that violence is never the way to resolve a problem, that it only creates more problems on top of the one they have started with. Instead of having your child glued to your TV, set up activities for your children and their friends to do or replace TV time with another activity or sport that may be suitable for you child to partake in. Children, however; learn about violence, and TV is not the only contributor, but it does contribute quite a lot and by following these simple steps you will be able to slowly but surely doing your part as to removing violence from your child s life, you may not realize how much of a difference extracting televised violence from your child s every day life will make.

Such experimental research has shown all of the following to be true, like the major research done by Bandura, Ross & Ross, in 1961,1963. These studies showed the cause and effect relation between television/film violence and aggressive behavior. In a typical early study conducted by Bandura, a young child was presented with a film, back-projected on a television screen, of a model who kicked and punched and inflatable doll. The child was then placed in a playroom setting and the incidents of aggressive behavior were then recorded. These results showed that children who had viewed the aggressive film were more aggressive in the playroom than those who had not observed the aggressive model. Another early investigated young children s willingness to hurt another child after viewing videotaped sections of aggressive or neutral television programs. The boys and the girls were in two age groups, five to six and eight to nine-years-old. The aggressive program consisted of segments of the Untouchables, while the neutral program featured a track race. Following the viewing, the children were placed in a setting in which they could either facilitate or disrupt the game-playing performance of an ostensible child playing in an adjoining room. The main findings were that the children who viewed the aggressive program demonstrated a greater willingness to hurt another child.


In conclusion, I feel that we need to realize just how much children are unknowingly affected daily by televised violence. People need stop and take time to actually watch what they are allowing their children to see hour after hour. I am almost positive that if most parents took the time to see what they allow their children to watch every day that they would be shocked at the amount of violence that is included in some of their child s favorite TV shows. It is obvious that this does have some effect on child s behavior and these children grow into adults and bring with them this hostility and aggression. How long is it going to take for people to realize that this needs to come to an end some where and that we should wait no longer, these children are the future, so why are we teaching them that it is okay to be violent towards others. When people are spending all this money on ways to cut down on violence in the United States, they can easily begin to help eliminating violence even if it is only keeping violence out of their living rooms and bedrooms, by refusing their children to watch violence on TV. By doing this more and more people will begin to realize that this is not acceptable to show their five, six, seven, or eight year old violent programs.

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