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Television violence is a negative message of reality to the children who see it. In this essay I am going to show and prove that violence on television causes children to be more violent.
Over the years there have been many studies to show that there is an excessive amount of violence, not only in adult programs, but also in children’s programs. Television and the American Child by George Comstock, states on page 27, that the National Television Violence Study, which took three years to finish, shows shocking information about what we are viewing every day.
What the analysis of 2,693 television programs from 23 channels showed is that a majority of programs contain what the researchers call harmful violence. They found that in 73 percent of the scenes, the violence went unpunished. In nearly half of the programs with slugfests and shoot-outs, the victims miraculously never appeared harmed. In 58 percent they showed no pain, in fact, only 16 percent of the programs showed any long-term problems physical, emotional or financial.
We must show the children that the things that the characters do hurt people, and that violence is never the answer to any problem. We must teach the next generation how to work out his or her problems with his or her “enemy” by talking the problem out with the other, and finding other means of solving their differences. Another example of the amount of violence in kids’ television shows can be seen in Marilyn Drozs, director of research for the National Coalition on Television Violence, study on the Power Rangers.
This is what she came up with:
The Power Rangers are an entertaining part of our children’s lives but the few minutes a day they watch may have severe circumstances. The morals and views of reality of the kids are shattered. These children do not think that what they are doing is wrong when they hit or kick. They say,” The Power Rangers do it, why can’t I?” This makes it even tougher on the parents. They must explain that what the Power Rangers do on the television set is make believe. This confuses the child because they see it with their own eyes, yet when they kick and hit they are punished for doing something bad.
Not one parent I know wants his or her children watching people getting blown away or thrown off cliffs. In reality, maybe parents cannot be there 24 hours a day to monitor what their children are watching. In fact the television is often used as a baby-sitter, so that the parent can do housework, have an adult conversation, or just relax after work.
It is a proven fact that children learn imitation at a very early stage in their life. A researcher by the name of Meltzoff proved this by studying learning in infants. This in itself is a large topic, but it was narrowed down to how early in life infants start learning. He concluded that babies start to learn even before birth. A study by Meltzoff demonstrated observational learning in 14-month-olds. After watching an adult on television handling “a novel toy in a particular way,” the babies were able to imitate the behavior when presented with the toy 24 hours later (Wood.292). This study indicates that babies learn imitation very early in life, and parents should be more particular with what they allow their susceptible children to view on TV.
The types of people who are the most likely to be harmed by the surplus of violence on TV are children. Ed Donnerstein stated in the February 15, 1996 edition of the Boston Globe the following:
Violence turns out to do a lot of harm when it looks harmless. One of the lessons children learn watching television is that there are few consequences to the person who commits violence or to the victim. Add to this positive portrayal of negative behavior the fact that children’s programs were least likely to show the bad effects of violence and most likely to make it funny (Goodman 23).
What we are really showing children is that violence is humorous and can do no harm. A very good example of this can be seen on a number of television shows and programs. A crime is committed and the offender is then seen walking off into the sunset on his or her way to Mexico where the rest of his or her life is spent drinking margueritas on the beach.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, television show for children, is a very good example of how violence on TV can affect our children. It is one of the highest rated kids television shows today. The Power Rangers is one of the most violent shows around right now and kids love it. The violence in the show has led New Zealand and two of the major networks in Canada to ban the program from their daily schedules. Nancy Carlson-Paige of Lesley College said in an issue in the December 1, 1994 Boston Globe,” Locally, teachers see evidence that Power Rangers interferes with normal childhood development. It threatens to undermine children’s mental health because of the way it influences their play” (Meltz. A1). As stated in Chris Boyatzis of California State University’s scientific study of the impact of Power Rangers on children. It showed that those who watch the show are seven times more aggressive in their play than those who don’t, (Meltz. A1). Also, Micki Corley, head 4-year-old teacher and coordinator of the Preschool Experience in Newton Center said in the same December 1st Boston Globe,” they are confused by it. They mimic the movements without understanding the consequences. I see kids saying things like, if I’m the Red Ranger, I’m not really Joe hitting Mary I’m Tommy or Zack hitting someone evil, but its Mary who is hurt and Mary who cries. You can see the confusion on their faces. They’ll say, But I didn’t do that” (Meltz. A1). One can see that at this stage in the preschooler life he or she is not able to distinguish between real and pretend. Kids and Power Rangers supporters will say that the Power Rangers do have good points about them also. They say that the characters show respect for adults, they are likable people, and there is always a moral labeled at the end of each show. What we have to ask ourselves is: Is it really worth it?
However, we must not pin point the Power Rangers as the one show that influences our children’s violent behavior. Other violent kids TV programs have a similar effect upon children. Cartoons and child programming get most of the attention under this issue because of the damage they can do to the children, but also theatrical movies, and not prime-time series television, bear much of the blame for TVs blood-and-guts reputation. The UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report, as published by the September 20, 1995 edition of the Boston Globe, stated that of 121 television series airing during the 1994-95 season, 10 were frequently violent or used violence in questionable ways (Elber. 84).
Not all the stations and programs have that negative effect though. There are various programs and stations on television that are very educational and help in the positive development of children’s minds, e.g., the Learning channel, Discovery channel and Sesame street which teaches kids how to count, basic math and many other skills they will need later in life. Nevertheless, these programs and shows are the minority, and the majority has a negative influence on children.
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