, Research Paper
The Effects of Violence in Television and Movies
“Violence on television and in the movies is damaging to children”
(Levine) Well, that just about says it all, huh? Or does it? One thing is for
certain, the link between adolescent violence and the programs on television
is there, the only thing to debate is how strong is that link? Many people
feel there is a huge problem with the violence on television and in the
movies in today’s society, causing all sorts of social chaos, such as school
shootings, massacres, and just about anything else you can thing of. On the
other hand, many people feel less strongly about the topic. They feel that
violence on television and in the movies is a problem, but not as big a
problem as most others make it out to be. But wait, there’s more. There is
one last group; the targeted demographic. The people who actually watch the
shows everyday. They, of course, couldn’t care less about what they watch.
These people can sit through anything basically. If you do care, you’re in one
of the other aforementioned groups. So, we have three groups, all with
varying opinions and ideas. Surprisingly, violence on network television has
been declining steadily over the past three years, according to a report
released in January by the Center for Communication Policy at the
University of California at Los Angeles (Moret). Also, public perception,
largely the result of media emphasis, is that almost half of all violent crime
is committed by juveniles; when in fact, it’s only 19% (Moret). Yes, that’s
still a lot, but while many people think that the juvenile crime rate has gone
up dramatically, it has always stayed at around 20% for more than one
hundred years (Moret). After a terrifying spike beginning in the 80s, the
murder rate among young people declined 31% between 1993 and 1996,
according to the National Center for Juvenile Justice (Marks). We’d like to
think this is getting better, but we really can’t know for sure.
So, we have three groups, all with very different opinions. We’ll start with the most concerned, the ones who think that all violent television and movies are horribly immoral and should be banned. This group believes that any program with violence is unsuitable for viewing by the younger demographic, that it will affect them in the long run. Statistics show, that yes, it does affect younger children. Impressionism starts when a child is very young (Elias), so it would make sense that they feel that young children should not watch violent programs. It would seem, and again studies show,
that the older one gets, the less likely you are to be influenced by a movie or television program, because older people obviously know it’s wrong to hurt someone. This particular group understands that, and I applaud them for it. They feel a solution to this very serious problem is to simply not let children watch it (Levine). That is, a blocking system, like the V-chip. Also, they are vying for a more tight watch at movie theaters, making sure that children do not even have a chance to see R rated movies, not even if their parents say they can.The second group feels that the issue at hand is not as serious as the first group. They believe that yes, violence influenced by children is a problem, but not life threatening. Many studies of television related violence have determined that adolescent children are not as impressionable as the younger group aforementioned, and the effects are less, but they are still there. For example, one study showed that adolescents have more aggressive feelings when they watch violent movies, but “….people may walk out of a movie such as Natural Born Killer feeling aggressive, but unless they keep replaying the movie, or other angry thoughts associated with the movie in their mind, they are apt to be back to normal in a few minutes” (Levine). So, it doesn’t last unless you dwell on it. The problem, they feel, is that people do tend to dwell on “cool” things. Also, this group feels there is a problem
with the rating system on television program ratings. At first, it was just PG, TV 14, MA, and a few others. Now they have added L for language, V for violence, and S for a sexual theme. This is all well and good, but group #2 feels it’s too complicated, that people hate complicated things, and that the more complicated the ratings system is, the less people will try to figure it out (Grossman). While this group is not as uptight about television related violence, they basically want the same things as the first group, like a blocking system, closer parental watch, and tighter security at the movies. Now, there’s one last group, the targeted demographic. The people that sit around all day and do nothing but watch television. They feel there isn’t a really big problem to be dealt with. They don’t want their television shows to be taken away because they’re “too violent” or “influential”. While they can’t deny all the facts out there, they don’t feel the problem of television related violence is really as big as some people make it out to be. They believe that yes, children should not see programs rated for mature audiences, but they should not be completely shut away from the world of television. They believe the only solution is for parents to monitor what their kids watch, and watch it with them, and they shouldn’t leave them alone with the television (Elias).
Yes, there is a problem with violence influenced by television, but it really isn’t as grave as most of the people think. As was explained before, violence among children has been at the point it is today for one hundred years. One hundred years. Television wasn’t even around for about fifty of those years. In a recent study, Mark Singer of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland said this of the results: “Witnessing or being the target of violence–at home, in the neighborhood or at school–in the past year correlated strongly with a child behaving violently toward others. The No. 2 factor was a lack of parental monitoring. TV was the least influential of the three” (Pitofay) This proves both of our points right there: Kids don’t get all of their aggressiveness from television. A lot of it is from real life experiences. It comes from what their parents do at home, and it doesn’t help when a child is living in an abusive household (Lamb). Television, as well as movies, should be more tightly guarded, with parental supervision. Basically the same as groups #1 and #2. Also, if someone is so impressionable that they would risk their own life, not someone else’s, by imitating a movie, those people have something mentally wrong with them. As an example, a quote from Viewing Violence by Madeline Levine Ph.D.: “The largest and most appalling example of movie imitation is that of 26 people who shot
themselves while playing out the epic Russian roulette scene from the 1978 Vietnam war epic The Deer Hunter” (Levine) Why would you risk your own life, just because you saw it in a movie? One can only conclude that they do indeed, have a mental disorder, and are sick in the head. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with. The solution is simple: parents need to be with their kids, whenever they watch a television show, whenever they see a movie (up to a certain age). They need to talk about what is on TV, why they shouldn’t watch such programs. My views on a solution for this problem coincides with all of the groups aforementioned, more or less.
In conclusion, the problem at hand, the effects of violence intelevision and movies, is a rather large one. We may have slightly different views on this topic, but there’s one thing almost everyone seems to agree on: there needs to be a much better monitoring system. Parents must take charge
of their children, and the children must obey. They don’t need to know about
all the terrible things in this world, at least until they are ready. They don’t
need to see the shocking things on television, and in the movies. Children
today have enough to worry about in the real world, much less what goes on
in the fantasy world that is the television.
“Children’s Television” Grolier Encyclopedia. Grolier Online 9 Feb. 2000
Elias, Marilyn. “Kids repeat Violence seen in life, not on TV…” USA Today 25 June, 1999. SIRS Knowledge Source. 3 Feb. 2000.
Grosman, David and Gloria DeGaetaro. Stop teaching out kids to kill. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 1999
Jeter, Jon and Alexandra Marks and Jeffery Stanger. Issues and Constroversies on file. 1999, Various, 49-56
Lamb, Gregory M. “Block all that TV sex and violence”. Christian Science Monitor. Proquest Direct. 9 Feb. 2000.
Levin, Charles. “Why must this continue?”. CNN Daily News 19 Jan. 2000.
Levine, Madeline Ph.D. Viewing Violence. New York: Doubleday, 1996
Marks, Alexandra. “Few signs that media violence is abating”. Christian Science Monitor. 23 Sept. 1999 Sirs Knowledge Source 19 Jan. 2000
Moret, Jim. “Harmful violence pervades TV” CNN Daily News.19 Jan. 2000
Pitofay, Robert. “The influence of violent entertainment material on kids” Federal Trade Comission. 25 June, 1999. SIRS Knowledge Source. 3 Feb. 2000.