Children And Televison Violence Essay, Research Paper
The Effects of Television Violence on ChildrenChildren and Televison Violence What has the world come to these days? It often seems likeeverywhere one looks, violence rears its ugly head. We see it in thestreets, back alleys, school, and even at home. The last of these is amajor source of violence. In many peoples+ living rooms there sits anoutlet for violence that often goes unnoticed. It is the television,and the children who view it are often pulled into its realistic worldof violence scenes with sometimes devastating results. Much research has gone into showing why children are somesmerized by this big glowing box and the action that takes placewithin it. Research shows that it is definitely a major source ofviolent behavior in children. The research proves time and time againthat aggression and television viewing do go hand in hand. The truth about television violence and children has been shown. Some are trying to fight this problem. Others are ignoring it andhoping it will go away. Still others don+t even seem to care. However,the facts are undeniable. The studies have been carried out and all theresults point to one conclusion: Television violence causes children tobe violent and the effects can be life-long. The information can+t be ignored. Violent television viewingdoes affect children. The effects have been seen in a number of cases. In New York, a 16-year-old boy broke into a cellar. When the policecaught him and asked him why he was wearing gloves he replied that hehad learned to do so to not leave fingerprints and that he discoveredthis on television. In Alabama, a nine-year-old boy received a badreport card from his teacher. He suggested sending the teacher poisonedcandy as revenge as he had seen on television the night before. InCalifornia, a seven-year-old boy sprinkled ground-up glass into the thelamb stew the family was to eat for dinner. When asked why he did it hereplied that he wanted to see if the results would be the same in reallife as they were on television (Howe 72). These are certainlystartling examples of how television can affect the child. It must bepointed out that all of these situations were directly caused bychildren watching violent television. Not only does television violence affect the child+s youth, butit can also affect his or her adulthood. Some psychologists andpsychiatrists feel that continued exposure to such violence mightunnaturally speed up the impact of the adult world on the child. Thiscan force the child into a kind of premature maturity. As the childmatures into an adult, he can become bewildered, have a greater distrusttowards others, a superficial approach to adult problems, and even anunwillingness to become an adult (Carter 14). Television violence can destroy a young child+s mind. Theeffects of this violence can be long-lasting, if not never-ending. For some, television at its worst, is an assault on a child+s mind, an insidious influence tat upsets moral balance and makes a child prone to aggressive behavior as it warps his or her perception of the real world. Other see television as an unhealthy intrusion into a child+s learning process, substituting easy pictures for the discipline of reading and concentrating and transforming the young viewer into a hypnotized nonthinker (Langone 48). As you can see, television violence can disrupt a child+s learning andthinking ability which will cause life long problems. If a child cannotdo well in school, his or her whole future is at stake. Why do children like the violence that they see on television?+Since media violence is much more vicious than that which childrennormally experience, real-life aggression appears bland by comparison+(Dorr 127). The violence on television is able to be more exciting andenthralling than the violence that is normally viewed on the streets. Instead of just seeing a police officer handing a ticket to a speedingviolator, he can beat the offender bloody on television. However,children don+t always realize this is not the way thing are handled inreal life. They come to expect it, and when they don+t see it the worldbecomes bland and in need of violence. The children then can create theviolence that their mind craves. The television violence can cause actual violence in a number ofways. As explained above, after viewing television violence the worldbecomes bland in comparison. The child needs to create violence to keephimself satisfied (Dorr 127). Also the children find the violentcharacters on television fun to imitate. +Children do imitate thebehavior of models such as those portrayed in television, movies, etc. They do so because the ideas that are shown to them on television aremore attractive to the viewer than those the viewer can think uphimself+ (Brown 98). This has been widely seen lately with the advent
of the Mighty Morphin+ Power Rangers. Young children cannot seem to getenough of these fictional characters and will portray them often. Another reason why television violence causes violence inchildren is apparent in the big cities. +Aggressive behavior was moreacceptable in the city, where a child+s popularity rating withclassmates was not hampered by his or her aggression+ (Huesmann 166). In the bigger cities, crime and violence is inevitable, expected and,therefore, is left unchecked and out of line. Much research into the topic of children and television violencehas been conducted. All of the results seem to point in the samedirection. There are undeniable correlations between violent televisionand aggression. This result was obtained in a survey of Londonschoolchildren in 1975. Greensberg found a significant relationshipbetween violence viewing and aggression (Dorr 160), In Israel 74 children from farms were tested as well as 112schoolchildren from the city of Tel Aviv. The researchers found thatthe city children watched far more television than their farmlandcounterparts. However, both groups of children were just as likely tochoose a violent program to watch when watching television. The citychildren had a greater tendency to regard violent television programs asaccurate reflections of real life than the farm children. Likewise, thecity boys identified most with characters from violent programs than didthose living on the farms (Huesmann 166). The government also did research in this area. They conductedan experiment where children were left alone in a room with a monitorplaying a videotape of other children at play. Soon, things got +out ofhand+ and progressive mayhem began to take place. Children who had justseen commercial violence accepted much higher levels of aggression thanother children. The results were published in a report. +A SergonGeneral+s report found some +preliminary indications of a casualrelationship between television viewing and aggressive behavior inchildren++ (Langone 50). In other research among U.S. children it was discovered thataggression, academic problems, unpopularity with peers and violence feedoff each other. This promotes violent behavior in the children(Huesmann 166). The child watches violence which causes aggression. The combination of aggression and continued television viewing lead topoor academic standings as well as unpopularity. These can cause moreaggression and a vicious cycle begins to spin. In yet another piece if research children who watch a lot ofviolent television were compared to children who don+t. The resultswere that the children who watched more violent television were morelikely to agree that +it+s okay to hit someone if you+re mad at them fora good reason.+ The other group learned that problems can be solvedpassively, through discussion and authority (Cheyney 46). The most important aspect of violence in television ispreventing it. There are many ways in which it can be prevented, butnot often are many carried out. These solutions are easy to implement,but are often overlooked because of commercial purposes. One such solution is to +create conflict without killing.+ Michael Landon, who starred in and directed +Little House on thePrairie+ managed to do so in his programs. His goal was to put morallessons in his show in an attempt to teach while entertaining. On theprogram +Hill Street Blues+ the conflicts are usually personal andpolitical matters among the characters. Although some violence doesoccur, the theme is not the action, but rather its consequences (Cheyney49). Perhaps the most important way to prevent children from watchingtelevision violence is to stop it where it starts. The parents shouldstep in and turn the set off when a violent program comes on. Theparents are the child+s role models from which he learns. If he canlearn at an early age that violence on television is bad, then he canturn the set off for himself when he is older. Education should startat home. Fixing the problems of children and television violence isn+teasy. There are many factors that have to be considered and people tobe convinced. This problem will, no doubt, never go away and continueto get worse as the years go by. However, there are measures that canbe taken to prevent the children from ever being exposed to such things. After all, what+s the world going to be like when the people who are nowchildren are running the world?
Langone, John. Violence. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1984. Cheyney, Glenn Alan. Television in American Society. New York: Franklin Watts Co., 1983. Howe, Michael J. A. Television and Children. London: New University Education, 1977. Husemann, L. Rowell. +Social Channels Tune T.V.+s effects.+ Science News 14 Sept. 1985: 166. Door, Palmer. Children and the Faces of Television. New York: Academic Press, 1980. Carter, Douglass. T.V. Violence and the Child. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1977.