Children And Television Violence

What
has 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 many
peoples living rooms there sets an outlet for violence that often goes unnoticed.

Children who view television are often pulled into the realistic, yet a devastating
world of violence.

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Much research has gone into showing why children
are so mesmerized by this big glowing box and the action that takes place within
it. Research shows that it is definitely a major source of violent behavior
in children. The research proves time and time again that 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 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 all
the results point to one conclusion: Television violence causes children to
be violent and the effects can be life-long.

The information cant
be ignored. Violent television viewing does affect children. The effects have
been seen in a number of cases. In New York, a sixteen-year-old boy broke into
a cellar. When the police caught him and asked him why he was wearing gloves
he replied that he had learned to do so to not leave fingerprints and that
he discovered this on television. In Alabama, a nine-year-old boy received
a bad report card from his teacher. He suggested sending the teacher poisoned
candy 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 family
was to eat for dinner. When asked why he did it he replied that he wanted to
see 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 affect
the child. It must be pointed out that all of these situations were directly
caused by children watching violent television.

Not only does television
violence affect the childs youth, but it can also affect his or her adulthood.

Some psychologists and psychiatrists feel that continued exposure to such violence
might unnaturally speed up the impact of the adult world on the child. This
can force the child into a kind of premature maturity. As the child matures
into an adult, he can become bewildered, have a greater distrust towards others,
a superficial approach to adult problems, and even an unwillingness to become
an adult (Carter 14).

Television violence can destroy a young childs
mind. The effects of this violence can be long-lasting. For some, television
at its worst, is an assault on a childs mind, an insidious influence that
upsets moral balance and makes a child prone to aggressive behavior as it warps
his or her perception of the real world. Others see television as an unhealthy
intrusion into a childs learning process, substituting easy pictures for the
discipline of reading and concentrating and transforming the young viewer into
a hypnotized non-thinker (Langone 48).

As you can see, television violence
can disrupt a childs learning and thinking ability that will cause life-long
problems. If a child cannot do 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 children normally
experience, real-life aggression appears bland by comparison (Dorr 127). The
violence on television is able to be more exciting and more thrilling than
the violence that is normally viewed on the streets. Instead of just seeing
a police officer handing a ticket to a speeding violator, he can beat the offender
to death on television. However, children dont always realize this is not
the way situations are handled in real life. They come to expect it, and when
they dont see it the world becomes bland and in need of violence. The children
then can create the violence that their mind craves.

The television
violence can cause actual violence in a number of ways. As explained above,
after viewing television violence the world becomes bland in comparison. The
child needs to create violence to keep himself satisfied (Dorr 127). Also the
children find the violent characters on television fun to imitate. Children
do 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 are
more attractive to the viewer than those the viewer can think up himself (Brown
98). This has been widely seen lately with the advent of the Mighty Morphin
Power Rangers. Young children cannot seem to get enough of these fictional
characters and will portray them often.

Another reason why television
violence causes violence in children is apparent in the big cities. Aggressive
behavior was more acceptable in the city, where a childs popularity rating
with classmates 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 violence has been conducted. All of the results seem
to point in the same direction. There are undeniable correlations between
violent television and aggression. This result was obtained in a survey of
London schoolchildren in 1975. Greensberg found a significant relationship
between violence viewing and aggression (Dorr 160).

In Israel 74 children
from 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 than
their farmland counterparts. However, both groups of children were just as
likely to choose a violent program to watch when watching television. The city
children had a greater tendency to regard violent television programs as accurate
reflections of real life than the farm children. Likewise, the city boys identified
most with characters from violent programs than did those living on the farms
(Huesmann 166).

The government also did research in this area. They
conducted an experiment where children were left alone in a room with a monitor
playing a videotape of other children at play. Soon, things got out of hand
and progressive mayhem began to take place. Children who had just seen commercial
violence accepted much higher levels of aggression than other children. The
results were published in a report. A Surgeon Generals report found some preliminary
indications of a casual relationship between television viewing and aggressive
behavior in children (Langone 50).
In other research among American
children it was discovered that aggression, academic problems, unpopularity
with peers and violence feed off each other. This promotes violent behavior
in the children (Huesmann 166). The child watches violence that causes aggression.

The combination of aggression and continued television viewing lead to poor
academic standings as well as unpopularity. These can cause more aggression
and a vicious cycle begins to spin.

In yet another piece if research
children who watch a lot of violent television were compared to children who
dont. The results were that the children who watched more violent television
were more likely to agree that its okay to hit someone if youre mad at them
for a good reason. The other group learned that problems can be solved passively,
through discussion and authority (Cheyney 46).

The most important aspect
of violence in television is preventing it. There are many ways in which it
can be prevented, but not 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 the Prairie managed to do so
in his programs. His goal was to put moral lessons in his show in an attempt
to teach while entertaining. On the program Hill Street Blues the conflicts
are usually personal and political matters among the characters. Although some
violence does occur, the theme is not the action, but rather its consequences
(Cheyney 49).

Perhaps the most important way to prevent children from
watching television violence is to stop it where it starts. The parents should
step in and turn the set off when a violent program comes on. The parents are
the childs role models from which he learns. If he can learn at an early age
that violence on television is bad, then he can turn the set off for himself
when he is older. Education should start at home.

Fixing the problems
of children and television violence isnt easy. There are many factors that
have 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, there
are measures that can be taken to prevent the children from ever being exposed
to such things. After all, whats the world going to be like when the people
who are now children are running the world?
Works Cited
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. TV
Violence and the Child. New York: Russel
Sage Foundation, 1977.


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