Whathas the world come to these days? It often seems like everywhere one looks,violence turns its ugly head. We see it in the streets, back alleys, schools,and even at home. The last of these is a major source of violence. In manypeoples living rooms there sets an outlet for violence that often goes unnoticed.
Children who view television are often pulled into the realistic, yet a devastatingworld of violence.
Much research has gone into showing why childrenare so mesmerized by this big glowing box and the action that takes place withinit.
Research shows that it is definitely a major source of violent behaviorin children. The research proves time and time again that aggression and televisionviewing do go hand in hand.
The truth about television violence andchildren has been shown. Some are trying to fight this problem. Others areignoring it and hoping it will go away. Still others dont even seem to care.
However, the facts are undeniable. The studies have been carried out and allthe results point to one conclusion: Television violence causes children tobe violent and the effects can be life-long.
The information cantbe ignored. Violent television viewing does affect children. The effects havebeen seen in a number of cases. In New York, a sixteen-year-old boy broke intoa cellar. When the police caught him and asked him why he was wearing gloveshe replied that he had learned to do so to not leave fingerprints and thathe discovered this on television. In Alabama, a nine-year-old boy receiveda bad report card from his teacher. He suggested sending the teacher poisonedcandy as revenge as he had seen on television the night before. In California,a seven-year-old boy sprinkled ground-up glass into the lamb stew the familywas to eat for dinner. When asked why he did it he replied that he wanted tosee if the results would be the same in real life as they were on television(Howe 72). These are certainly startling examples of how television can affectthe child. It must be pointed out that all of these situations were directlycaused by children watching violent television.
Not only does televisionviolence affect the childs youth, but it can also affect his or her adulthood.
Some psychologists and psychiatrists feel that continued exposure to such violencemight unnaturally speed up the impact of the adult world on the child. Thiscan force the child into a kind of premature maturity. As the child maturesinto an adult, he can become bewildered, have a greater distrust towards others,a superficial approach to adult problems, and even an unwillingness to becomean adult (Carter 14).
Television violence can destroy a young childsmind. The effects of this violence can be long-lasting. For some, televisionat its worst, is an assault on a childs mind, an insidious influence thatupsets moral balance and makes a child prone to aggressive behavior as it warpshis or her perception of the real world. Others see television as an unhealthyintrusion into a childs learning process, substituting easy pictures for thediscipline of reading and concentrating and transforming the young viewer intoa hypnotized non-thinker (Langone 48).
As you can see, television violencecan disrupt a childs learning and thinking ability that will cause life-longproblems. If a child cannot do well in school, his or her whole future is atstake.
Why do children like the violence that they see on television?Since media violence is much more vicious than that which children normallyexperience, real-life aggression appears bland by comparison (Dorr 127). Theviolence on television is able to be more exciting and more thrilling thanthe violence that is normally viewed on the streets. Instead of just seeinga police officer handing a ticket to a speeding violator, he can beat the offenderto death on television. However, children dont always realize this is notthe way situations are handled in real life. They come to expect it, and whenthey dont see it the world becomes bland and in need of violence. The childrenthen can create the violence that their mind craves.
The televisionviolence can cause actual violence in a number of ways. As explained above,after viewing television violence the world becomes bland in comparison. Thechild needs to create violence to keep himself satisfied (Dorr 127). Also thechildren find the violent characters on television fun to imitate. Childrendo imitate the behavior 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 up himself (Brown98). This has been widely seen lately with the advent of the Mighty MorphinPower Rangers. Young children cannot seem to get enough of these fictionalcharacters and will portray them often.
Another reason why televisionviolence causes violence in children is apparent in the big cities. Aggressivebehavior was more acceptable in the city, where a childs popularity ratingwith classmates was not hampered by his or her aggression (Huesmann 166). Inthe bigger cities, crime and violence is inevitable, expected and, therefore,is left unchecked and out of line.
Much research into the topic ofchildren and television violence has been conducted. All of the results seemto point in the same direction. There are undeniable correlations betweenviolent television and aggression. This result was obtained in a survey ofLondon schoolchildren in 1975. Greensberg found a significant relationshipbetween violence viewing and aggression (Dorr 160).
In Israel 74 childrenfrom farms were tested as well as 112 schoolchildren from the city of Tel Aviv.
The researchers found that the city children watched far more television thantheir farmland counterparts. However, both groups of children were just aslikely to choose a violent program to watch when watching television. The citychildren had a greater tendency to regard violent television programs as accuratereflections of real life than the farm children. Likewise, the city boys identifiedmost with characters from violent programs than did those living on the farms(Huesmann 166).
The government also did research in this area. Theyconducted an experiment where children were left alone in a room with a monitorplaying a videotape of other children at play. Soon, things got out of handand progressive mayhem began to take place. Children who had just seen commercialviolence accepted much higher levels of aggression than other children. Theresults were published in a report. A Surgeon Generals report found some preliminaryindications of a casual relationship between television viewing and aggressivebehavior in children (Langone 50). In other research among Americanchildren it was discovered that aggression, academic problems, unpopularitywith peers and violence feed off each other. This promotes violent behaviorin the children (Huesmann 166). The child watches violence that causes aggression.
The combination of aggression and continued television viewing lead to pooracademic standings as well as unpopularity. These can cause more aggressionand a vicious cycle begins to spin.
In yet another piece if researchchildren who watch a lot of violent television were compared to children whodont. The results were that the children who watched more violent televisionwere more likely to agree that its okay to hit someone if youre mad at themfor a good reason. The other group learned that problems can be solved passively,through discussion and authority (Cheyney 46).
The most important aspectof violence in television is preventing it. There are many ways in which itcan be prevented, but not often are many carried out. These solutions are easyto 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 the Prairie managed to do soin his programs. His goal was to put moral lessons in his show in an attemptto teach while entertaining. On the program Hill Street Blues the conflictsare usually personal and political matters among the characters. Although someviolence does occur, the theme is not the action, but rather its consequences(Cheyney 49).
Perhaps the most important way to prevent children fromwatching television violence is to stop it where it starts. The parents shouldstep in and turn the set off when a violent program comes on. The parents arethe childs role models from which he learns. If he can learn at an early agethat violence on television is bad, then he can turn the set off for himselfwhen he is older. Education should start at home.
Fixing the problemsof children and television violence isnt easy. There are many factors thathave to be considered and people to be convinced. This problem will, no doubt,never go away and continue to get worse as the years go by. However, thereare measures that can be taken to prevent the children from ever being exposedto such things. After all, whats the world going to be like when the peoplewho are now children are running the world?Works CitedLangone,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 ofTelevision. New York:Academic Press, 1980.
Carter, Douglass. TVViolence and the Child. New York: RusselSage Foundation, 1977.
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