Most people read statistics like “Before the average American child
leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed more than 8,000
murders on television” ( “Does T.V. Kill?” ), and worry about the negative effect
viewing violence on television will have on their children. Research into the
effects of childhood exposure to violent television programming shows that there
is cause for concern. Watching violence on television does have a negative effect
on the way children see the world and the way they behave towards others.
Researchers have discovered that repeated exposure to violence on television
causes children to become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
Viewing violent television programming also causes children to view the world as
a frightening place. Children who observe violence on television are likely to act
out what they see, and to think that violent acts are acceptable. According to
George Gerbner, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, for the
first time in human history most of the stories about people, life, and values are
told not by parents, schools, churches, or others in the community who have
something to tell, but by a group of distant conglomerates that have something to
sell. We need to examine exactly what these companies are telling children and
the effects these violent stories are having on the children who watch them.
One of the first negative effects researchers discovered while
observing children who were frequently exposed to violence on television was a
lack of empathy towards other people’s pain and suffering. It was discovered that
children who watched excessive amounts of violent programming were less likely
to help victims of real-life violence ( Kinnear 6 ). Why does viewing violence on
television have this effect on children? Children viewing acts of violence on
television are essentially being trained to be spectators to violence. They observe
violent acts against others, but are not called upon to do anything other than
watch. To the impressionable mind of a child it is difficult to differentiate between
what is observed on the television and what occurs in the real world. When
witnessing violence against another person, their first instinct will be to watch,
Of course, this is not the o...
... middle of paper ...
...asing their television viewing. Certainly,
violence in children has many causes. Everyone should just be aware that
television is one of them, and one that can be controlled.
Research supports that television violence causes violence in children.
Children learn to fear the world from television. Children learn that violence is an
acceptable way to solve problems from television. Television teaches children
that the pain and suffering of others isn’t real. Maybe one day television can be
used to make children’s lives better. The opportunity is certainly there. Until then,
be aware that television does more harm than good for children.
"Does T.V. Kill?" Frontline Special. PBS. WMPB, Baltimore. 10 January 1995.
Gerbner, George. Television Violence and the Art of Asking the Wrong Question.
Kinnear, Karen L. Violent Children. California: ABC-CLIO, 1995.
Males, Mike. Drive-By Journalism. January/February, 1999
Sage Publications, Inc. National Television Violence Study. California: Sage Publications,
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