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Television Violence And Our Children

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Society is faced with an overwhelming amount of media violence. Everywhere you look, you see shootings, stabbings, beatings, and some kind of violence. Television violence is the most common type of media violence. The gruesome things that children witness on television, shouldn't even be viewed by the most qualified professional. The depiction of television violence can negatively affect the mental health of children.

Families today are much busier than in previous decades. There is much less time for parents to supervise their children, and complete the tasks that they need to complete. It is increasingly common that parents place their child in front of the television set, to occupy the children until they have time to supervise them once again. The television has basically become the temporary babysitter in most American households (Abelard).

Recent studies show that the material that children watch and the amount of time they spend in front of the television correlate to their academic success later in life. Most children who watch educational programs excel in school, while the children who watch television excessively including violent programs, tend to fail and be unsuccessful (Abelard).

Television has become more mainstream; the average child spends an estimated six and a half hours in front of the television ("Fact Sheet"). It is also estimated that 98% of Americans have a television in their homes, and 65% have more than one television set in their home (Gerdes 41). Multiple studies have been done on the issue of television violence. It is a proven fact that the average child by the age of eighteen, has seen over 200,000 acts of violence on television, including 40,000 murders ("Fact Sheet"). Television shows for children, such as the Saturday morning cartoons, are 50-60 times more violent than the prime-time shows for adults (American Psychiatric Association).

Children, who spend an excessive amount of time in front of the television, are more likely to be effected negatively. Aggressiveness among children, who witness such heinous acts of violence on television, is extremely common. Children, ages 6 to 8, are more likely to learn aggressive behaviors from television because, they are still mentally developing (Josephson). "Children are considered more vulnerable to these violent portrayals because they are in the early stages of developing behavior patterns, attitudes, and values about social interaction" (Kalin). Young children imitate what they see, whether it is on television or in everyday life (Chandler). They model their behavior after the characters they watch, hoping to be like them. One study in North Carolina shows that young teen boys, who habitually view professional wrestling on television, are 18% more likely to get into a physical altercation with a date (Sappenfield 01).

Violence on television is shown to be an effective way to solve troublesome problems. As people watch an excessive amount of television and see numerous acts of violence, they tend to accept it in addition, view it as normal (Kalin). Children often become more aggressive after viewing a violent program because, during the television program, the child places their full attention on the violent nature of each scene. This causes them to get excited, and be more engaged in the violence, thus, making the show seem tremendously realistic to the child ("Fact Sheet"). A program that seems credible basically encourages the type of behavior portrayed on the screen. 73% of the time, violence seems to "pay off" in the end, implicating that it goes unpunished. That is very appealing to a child because, they feel like they can get away with being the "bad guy" (Kalin).

Many studies have proved that heavy viewing of television violence causes children to become desensitized to the violence. After viewing people being murdered or hurt many times, it makes children "numb" to all violence in general (Williams). Children may feel less compelled to protest the violence that they may witness in real life because it seems normal to them. One study showed that children, who watched a violent program, were less likely to call for help or try to stop a fight between other children/classmates. They also seem to feel less sympathetic about violent situations than they once did (Kalin). Violence on television is teaching children to enjoy violent images and it is decreasing their sensitivity to the issue (Chandler).

The more violence children observe, causes them to lose their sense of reality. It becomes hard to tell real from fantasy. Young children realize that the super heroes don't really have powers; however, they think the police dramas are real because they are rational. If the television program reflects real life, then children most likely believe its real (Josephson). Television violence also increases the fear a child has in the real world. After watching a huge amount of violent programs on television, children tend to view the world as mean, scary and unpredictable. "Slasher" movies such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th, offer more than just a temporary scare. They tend to leave people feeling frightened for their lives (Josephson). It is also very common that adults buy more guns, weapons, and locks for their doors, to protect themselves and their families (Kalin).

There are many ways to protect your child from the harmful effects of television violence. Parents should create more time to spend



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