, Research Paper
On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center crumbles to the ground, billions of people watch on their television sets, many of them children. As the children sit around with their parents they see planes crashing into buildings, innocent civilians jumping from windows, and later on, they see firefighters and volunteers sifting through the rubble, pulling out bodies. The children try and comprehend what has happened but they have virgin minds that are undeveloped and inexperienced. Just as they are about to ask a question, their parents shut off the TV and say, “It’s time for bed.”
What parents don’t realize is that the TV plays a big role in a child’s life. It teaches them new words and shows them things they have never seen before. Television surveyor A.C. Nielson, says children under the age of five watch about 23.5 hours of TV in a week. Most teenagers have watched approximately 15,000 hours of TV and have been exposed to over 350,000 commercials by the time they have graduated. (Waters, 1977, p.41) Without any control or guidance of what children see, it can lead to psychological problems of distinguishing reality from fiction. Besides the parents, television is starting to play a significant role in how children behave, act and respond to the outside world.
Watching too much TV isn’t good for anybody, but it creates a more dramatic effect on children since their brains and bodies are not fully developed. They should be out playing sports or inside reading a book. Children should not be exposed to
violence on TV such as the terrorist attack that happened on September 11, 2001 which Laura Bush said in a statement: “parents should not be letting young kids watch the coverage of the aftermath of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington.” (Vancouver Sun, 2001, p. A24) Parents allowing their children to watch the aftermath should watch it with them to answer any questions that they might have. Sara Weintraub, of Summerland B.C, says she saw her 10-year-old daughter watching the coverage on TV before she went to bed. Sara was awoken late in the night to hear her daughter screaming from a nightmare about civilians jumping from buildings, and rescuers pulling out dead bodies. (Vancouver Sun, 2001, p. A24)
If you are wondering how your child got the idea for you to buy them that new toy or take them to the mall to get all the new clothes, the answer is simple, advertising. Advertising, which is played during commercials of every TV show, is targeted towards kids. This has become such a huge problem that psychologists and parent activists had a conference regarding exploitive advertising towards children. (Associated Press Online, 2001, p.1)
Susan Linn, a Harvard Medical school psychologist says, “Kids influence an estimated $300 billion dollars of family spending each year.” She also talks about how marketing has changed over the past few years: “Comparing the marketing of yesteryear to marketing today is like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb. It’s enhanced by technology, honed by children and brought to us by billions of corporate dollars.” (Associated Press Online, 2001, p.2) Companies know children are in the position to be taken advantage of and that’s why experts estimate that more than $12
billion dollars a year is spent on advertising targeting children. (Associated Press Online, 2001, p.3) Children don’t know right from wrong and that is why parents need to accompany their children when watching TV.
Violence is something that happens in our everyday life and it can’t be controlled. Most TV shows that are aired, have some violence and in most cases, a lot of violence. When children constantly see this, they think and learn the behavior is normal and that it is the way they are supposed to act. According to Dr. John Murray, a professor of Developmental Psychology at Kansas State University, “neuro-imaging evidence confirms that watching violence is compelling, highly likely to be learned and can be easily recalled to serve as a model for children’s future behavior.” (Zdeb, 2001, p.B10) Violence is not something that a child is born with. He has to see it and learn it. Leonard Eron, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan says, “Aggression is a learned behavior, it is learned at an early age, and media violence is one of its teachers. But because it is learned, there is hope it can be unlearned or never taught in the first place.” (Mortimer, 1994, p.16)
Leonard was so convinced that TV violence affected kids, he did a survey of every 8-year-old in Columbia County, New York. He found an astonishing, unmistakable, correlation between the amounts of violence youngsters saw on television and the aggressiveness of their behavior. Further studies showed that 8-year-olds who watched violence on TV when they were young had more arrests for drunk driving, violent crimes, spousal abuse and had more aggressive children when they became adults. The evidence was so overwhelming to Eron, he said,
“The strength of the relationship is the same as cigarettes causing lung cancer, is there any doubt about that? (Mortimer, 1994, p.16)
The National Television Violence study is one of the most complex studies conducted with the ‘violence’ subject. Over the years they have gathered information that shows that violence affects kids directly. Children who watch violent TV run the risk of learning to behave violently, becoming more desensitized to harmful consequences of violence and become more fearful of attack. The study shows that the perpetrators of the violence go unpunished 73% of the time and they never show the negative consequences for the crime committed. (Education Digest, 1996, Vol.62, p.23)
Kids and teens all around the world have been fascinated with pro wrestling just like Lionel Tare, a normal 12-year-old boy. Lionel’s mother said she would see Lionel imitating the moves that he saw the wrestlers perform on TV. His mom thought nothing of it until July 28, 1999, when something went horribly wrong. Lionel had killed a 6-year-old girl named Tiffany Eunick. Doctors say she died from a skull fracture and a torn liver. Lionel’s defense lawyer claimed he was mimicking wrestling moves he had seen on TV and that she had died ‘accidentally’. The Grand Jury found the case so sever, that they tried Lionel as an adult. After hearing the case, the jury found Lionel guilty of 1st degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Lionel’s lawyer was shocked and told reporters that, “Lionel didn’t mean to hurt this little girl. He was just acting out what he’d seen on TV and unfortunately he didn’t know his own strength. (Current Events, 2001, Vol.100, issue 19, pp1-3) Because of
TV’s violent programs, a young, innocent boy has to waste the rest of his life in prison for something that was taught to him by TV.
The TV was brought in to our world to give us a new sense of entertainment, world news and endless amounts of information. But for us to benefit from the information is how we interpret it. Children have undeveloped minds, which cannot conceive the information the same way that adults do. The TV can be a way of showing children new things but only to a certain extent. Perhaps Parents need to spend more time with their children instead of turning on the TV as a babysitter.