There is endless controversy today concerning society being highly affected by media programs displaying violence. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) reports that violence in the media has increased since 1980 and continues to increase. Thousands of studies have pointed to a relationship between media violence and real life crime. Years of research show that exposure to media violence causes children to behave more aggressively, both immediately and in their adult years. This “aggressiveness” has lead violent acts in the past. These events could have been avoided if violence was not viewed on television. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees “the freedom of the press and other media of communication” under Fundamental Freedoms. In other words, it is considered justified to portrait violence in the media and allow it to have an affect on society. Aggression is not the only issue involved. Statistics show that children who spend more time watching violent TV programming are rated more poorly by their teachers, rated more poorly by their peers, and have few problem solving skills.
Media professionals believe that television has no effects rather than those intended. They conclude that television does not lead to aggressive behavior. A study done by Feshback in 1971 suggested that watching television actually decreases the amount of aggression in the viewer. They believe that history has shown us that violence issues will not influence a child’s mind.
Society cannot continue to allow our future generations to be exposed to violence portrayed in the media today. The Canadian government should set limitations to the amount of violence depicted on television. Fundamental freedoms, concerning the freedom of speech among the media, should limit the violence portrayed. The need for change and action regarding this matter would change the generations to come. By no longer running violent programs for children, it enables society to progress in a peaceful, non-violent atmosphere.
Allowing the violence on television to continue would be killing the world. The violence today depicted on television has already affected our country. If these violent programs continue to run, the world will soon be in chaos.
As a result of television violence, people have died and crimes have been commited. In Nevada, one teen-aged boy was killed and two others seriously injured while lying down along the centerline of a highway. The boys admitted that they were imitating a scene from the Touchstone movie, “The Program”. The accident and publicity made Touchstone remove the scene from the movie, yet leaving other violent scenes, including one in which a student purposely smashes his head through a car window. In Ontario, a five year-old boy set his house on fire, killing his younger sister. The boy’s mother blamed his actions on the MTV show “Beavis and Butthead”. The latest incident relating TV violence to real-life violence is the schoolyard killing of five people in Arkansas. Two young boys aged 11 and 13 killed four schoolgirls and a teacher. Mark Huckabee (Arkansas Gov.) blamed a national culture of violence “fueled by film and television” for the killing. “I think what makes all of us angry is that our culture would create the kind of atmosphere where an 11 or 13 year old student could feel that the way to respond to whatever kind of anger is inside of them, is to take weapons and shoot their fellow students and teachers” Huckabee told CNN. “But I’m not sure we could expect a whole lot else in a culture where these children are exposed to tens of thousands of murders on television and movies and we desensitized human life” he said. These few of many incidents prove to us that society is obviously being influenced due the violence featured on television.
Some so-called “experts” say that violent children’s programming is no different from fairy tales, and back then when there were no televisions extremely violent tales of heroes and villains had no effect on the children. However, television is very different from fairy tales, and stories told by people for many reasons. First, children are visual learners. Television is more visual, more striking, and intense than tales that are read to children. Having tales read to by parents allows commenting and discussion about what happened in the story, and what could have been done. Reading stories outloud gives parents the opportunity to share family values with their children. On the other hand, television doesn’t provide for discussion, only the dicouragement of it. (Shhh!! Be quiet, I’m trying to watch!!) Some believe that television does not lead to aggressive behavior, yet hundreds of studies have shown aggression is the result of witnessing violence on television.
Many children have come to see violence as a normal and accepted way of life. Researchers have determined that the high level of violence in our society is being made worse by so many children having a regular habit of watching media violence. The Mediascope National Television Violence Study proves that there are three main effects that TV violence has on children; learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors, becoming desensitized to real world violence, and developing a fear of being victimized by violence (aka “mean world syndrome”). On television, violence is the attractive, effective, and perferred solution to conflicts. Dr. D. Pearl of the National Institute of Mental Health argues that “television tells people to be violent” (Devore p.21) The viewers watch so many violent acts on television, it causes them to think violence is an accepted way of life. A study has shown that “young children in a group that watched a Power Rangers episode commited seven times more agressive acts in a following two minute play period than did a control group” (Boyantis, 1995, p.53) Children who often view violence on television may lose the capability to deal, protest, and become distressed by real acts of violence. They become less bothered by violence and see nothing wrong with it. For example, in several case studies “children who watched a violent program instead of a non-violent one were slow to intervene or to call for assistance when they saw younger children fighting or playing destructively.” (Featherstone p.3) As a result of the tremendous amount of research done in the past years, we can conclude that violence on television is clearly influencing our children in negative ways.
Violence illustrated in the media today poses a threat to our society, our children and generations to come. We can continue to ignore the issues and let the media control the future of our world, yet the concequences are deadly. Children have always been more vulnerable to influence, thus the future of society depends on how our children view the world. By limiting the freedom of speech, in relation to media and violence, our world can become a safer place for everyone, and the generations to come can grow up peacefully. Society values safety, and by exposing our children to media violence we are placing the future of our nation on a thin rope.