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In today’s society television is one of the biggest pastimes for children and youth. They watch, absorb and are unconsciously influenced by all the things they see on the screen. Violent television shows changes the attitude of a child. This leads to a kind of devotion to the television. Since it is being watched so much children become desensitized to all the violence shown. Too much exposure to violent television programmes damages a child’s mind and spirit.
Nowadays, a child comes home and right away the television goes on.
Television requires little brainwork. Children could become increasingly lazy and rude because of this. Imagine a parent asking a child to clean their room while they are watching one of their shows. The arousal and stimulation they received from the violent programs would probably lead them to answer back in a rude way. I know when I watched these kinds of shows it made me feel more excited and powerful.
James D. Hollaran, a British researcher stated:
It is not that the violence portrayed in these programs is more likely to be copied, or that it will stimulate aggressive drives. It is reflections, the associations, the ambiguities, the definitions, the stereotypes, the emphases, the approvals, the tolerances, the familiarizations, the behavioral possibilities and solutions, and the picture of the world that these programmes provide that may make television an influential force with regard to violence in society (4).
There are many underlying and intertwined causes to what causes children to react to what they see on the television.
After watching these violent shows everyday life will seem more boring and therefore children will want to watch television more and more.
Similarly, we have to take into consideration how TV shows can lead to desensitization. For hours they sit wide-eyed in front of the screen. Children cannot talk to the characters, or ask them why they did a certain thing to a fellow character. Children do not fully know about themselves or life yet and this is dangerous. When watching these shows, children passively accept whatever they see. At first they may use their judgment and say that the bad guys are in fact mean, but after a while they become numb to the ridicule and suffering shown on the screen. Since they have seen this sort of image so many times it forces them to accept it and think these actions are fine in society. Being bombarded with all these instances of violence in cartoons and other shows definitely desensitizes children. They think it is fine to punch their sister or friend because they saw their favorite cartoon hero commit an act of aggression.
In addition, when children are young it is hard for them to distinguish between the “real world” and fantasy. Many children are left home by themselves after school between the hours of three to six. With the changing society usually both parents are in the work force. They are not supervised and their choice of television shows is not monitored. It is harmful for children to just see and accept what they view. Children are like young, tender branches. They are very flexible and it is easy to persuade them in a certain way. When branches get older they stiffen and if we compare growing children to branches, their ideas get fixed. It becomes very hard to get them to change direction in their point of view. If they start watching violent programmes from an early age they will develop an opinion towards violence that is not a healthy one. If they see a lot of violence portrayed in a cool way, they will learn from this.
Likewise, since children don’t usually see instances of violence often in real life, it is very interesting for them to see it so easily on television. Parents should be there to at least help them see these programs with a critical eye in order to establish right from wrong at an early stage. Children will learn that the easiest way to get what they want is to use aggression or violence. The lack of apathy to violence they acquired as children could lead to an aggressive personality later on in life and it would be extremely difficult to change. “Extensive viewing can lead children to identify with television characters. Such identification may make the viewer especially receptive to encoding and adopting the behaviors displayed by those characters” (qtd. in Fernie, 1981; Huesmann & Eron, 1986) Children like to copy characters because they are interesting and different to what they usually see. Therefore, if the character is violent they will most likely develop violent tendencies, as well.
It is clear to see that television is becoming an increasingly influential part in a child’s development and stages of growth. This influence can be harmful and lead to the loss of creativity and passivity with children ending up thinking there is nothing wrong with violence. The only way to stop this kind of development is for parents to educate their sons and daughters of the reasons why what they
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