Television Influence Essay Research Paper Television influences

Television Influence Essay, Research Paper

Television influences behaviors, social attitudes and physical health especially

in children. Children today spend more time watching television than on any

other single leisure activity. In fact, studies have shown that "the

average child spends more time in front of the television than in school"

(Clarke and Kurte-Coastes, 1997). There are a variety of influences that

children gain from watching too much television. The impact of violence on

children is a major issue, as well as the impact of stereotypical views, such as

sex roles. Health can also become a problem for children who spend excessive

amounts of time in front of the television. There are, however, alternatives to

these problems. Parent, schools and the governments need to take control and

monitor children and television. After all, television was once used as an

educational tool it has only recently become a babysitter. The effect of

violence in television has been debated for many years. In a recent study,

Strasburger and Donnerstein (1999), suggests that there is a positive

correlation between violence viewed on television and aggressive behavior in

children. The way television violence is portrayed encourages children to learn

aggressive attitudes and behaviors. For example most violence on television is

glamorized by using a "good" character that is likely to be perceived

as role model to initiate violence. This gives children the impression that

violence is justified, desirable, and painless. Violence on television also

increases fear or gives children the wrong impression about the world. Many

children have a hard time making distinctions about what is real and unreal.

Therefore, they begin to believe that the television depicts violence in the

"real world." The bottom line is, "children learn their attitudes

about violence at a very young age, and once learned, the attitudes tend to be

life-long" (Strasburger and Donnerstein, 1999). Television also encourages

stereotyped opinions on topics such as sex roles. Research shows that children

who spend more time watching television tend to think that both women and men

have specified roles in the world (Kent and Moy, 1999). Television usually

portrays women as passive and weak compared to men who are usually depicted as

strong and dominant (Steinberg and Kincheloe, 1997). This gives children a clear

impression of what is expected of them in society. It insists that they too

should act this way because it is, after all, what society views appropriate.

Television even pushes children toward specific sex role using toys. Most toy

commercials, for example, even insist that some toys are only for girls while

others are only for boys. Children are very rarely encouraged to play with toys

that are known to be for the opposite sex. For example, boys aren’t aloud to

play with dolls and girls aren’t aloud to play with trucks. Television also

emphasizes the importance of physical beauty. Stress is placed on looking a

certain way, whether it is having the right clothing or being a certain weight.

These are influences that children take very seriously considering that most

children want to be the "popular" one in school. Take the Mighty

Morphine Power Rangers, for example, the female good rangers are viewed

typically as beautiful and perfect. The female villains are typically viewed as

"repulsive" and are teased. In most schools this is the " kind of

schoolyard harassment to which unpopular girls are subjected" (Steinberg

and Kincheloe, 1997). Television also takes a major toll on a child’s physical

health. Obesity in children is rising and television is being credited in

playing apart. One reason may be that children are spending less time on

physical activities, such as, swimming and riding bikes (Vecchine, 1997).

Evidence also shows that children like to snack while watching television, which

can add to the weight especially for those children who do not do much physical

activity. Commercials on television also play a part in weight gain among

children. Commercials tend to enhance a child’s craving for the food products

being advertised which persuades children to buy their food. In most cases the

food advertised on television is high in calories and fat, which adds weight

(Anonymous, 1999). Although television influences many children all over the

world there are alternatives to the problem. Starting at home parents need to be

aware of what their children are watching, as well as how many hours are spent

watching television. More importantly parents need to take time to watch and

discuss the programs with their children. (victor stasburger and edward

donnerstein, 7). This allows for the children, especially the smaller ones who

have a hard time differentiating reality form fiction, to make distinctions.

Schools can also play a role in preventing the problem by accommodating children

with media education. Schools need to redirect negative education into

knowledgeable information. Just because a television program may not be

educational does not mean a student cannot learn from it. An non-educational

show can be turned into a learning tool that will teach children how to think

critically by analyzing the program at hand. The federal government also plays

an important role. They have already begin to help by passing the

Telecommunications Act of 1996, which makes rating possible and V-chips a must.

V-chips are now mandatory for television sets build starting September 1997.

Both V-chips and ratings allow parents to safeguard their children against shows

that they think are inappropriate for them to watch. Lastly the entertainment

industry needs to examine their motives. What do they want to teach children?

They need to take into consideration the harm they may be causing children by

airing a program with too much violence and profanity. During the so-called

"family hour" (the hours between 8:00pm and 9:00pm), "objectable

material such as foul language, violent incidents and lewd references to sexual

activity went up 75%" (Bozell, 1999). According to Strasburger and

Donnerstein (1999), children watch between 16-17 hours of television a week.

Taking this into consideration, producers need to think about the impact it

might have on children’s future behaviors, after all, children are the future.

Though much of the research has shown the downside to television there is an

upside. Television once upon a time was considered to be a great educator

especially for those who were economically disadvantaged. In fact education was

the main emphasis for the television show "Sesame Street." It was

suppose to teach "intellectual skills and knowledge relevant to success in

school. It brought a new level of teaching to those who otherwise wouldn’t have

necessarily gotten it before they entered preschool. Research even suggested

that kids would remember more of their teaching from a video versus hearing it

(Anderson, 1998). As previously stated, television can also be used by schools

as learning tools to educate children to think critically. By analyzing programs

such as "Beavis and Butthead" which tend to have no educational value

whatsoever, children can walk away with a lesson and not a bad influence. In

conclusion, television has taken away precious time that children can otherwise

be reading, writing or exploring new things in their environment. Television is

teaching our future children that violence is accepted and in some cases

desirable. It influences children decisions about who they are and what they

want to be. It has also taken a toll on physical health of young children.

Television was once an educator, but overtime is gradually ruining our youth.

The bottom line is we need to educate our youth and redirect the negative

influences of television into positive activities

Anderson, D. R. (1998). Educational television is not an oxymoron. American

Academy of Political and Social Science, 557, 1-10 proquest direct. Anonymous.

(1999). Less TV, more activity. American Diabetes Association, 52, 1 proquest

direct. Bozell, L. B., III. (1999). For toxic TV, tune in during ‘family hour.’

Human Events, 55, 1-3 proquest direct. Clarke, A.T. & Kuttz-Cortes, B.

(1997). Television viewing, educational quality of the home environment, and

school readiness. The Journal of Educational Research, 90, 1-9 proquest direct.

Kent, D. & Moy, S. (1999). How much is too much? Parenting, 13, 1-3 proquest

direct. Steinberg, s. R., & Kincheloe, J. L. (Eds.). (1997). Kinderculture.

Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Strasburger, V. C. & Donnerstein, E. (1999).

Children, adolescents, and the media: Issues and solutions. American Academy of

Pediatrics, 103, 1-15 proquest direct. Vecchione, A. (1997, August 17).

‘Disturbance’ or ‘radiance’: have we failed the TV test? The Los Angeles Times,

pp.1-3 proquest direct.


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