Nov. 14, 1997
Persuasive Essay: The Impact of Media Violence
“Monkey see, monkey do” has become a well-known saying in today’s society, but is it correct? Just sixty years ago the invention of the television was viewed as a technological curiosity with black and white ghost-like figures on a screen so small hardly anyone could see them. Today that curiosity has become a constant companion to many, mainly children. From reporting the news and persuading us to buy certain products, to providing programs that depict violence, television has all but replaced written material. Unfortunately, it is these violent programs that are endangering our present-day society.
Violent images on television, as well as in the movies, have inspired people to set spouses on fire in their beds, lie down in the middle of highways, extort money by placing bombs in airplanes, rape, steal, murder, and commit numerous other shootings and assaults. Over 1,000 case studies have proven that media violence can have negative affects on children as well. It increases aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, makes them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, and it increases their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life. Media violence is especially damaging to young children, age 8 and under1, because they cannot tell the difference between real life and fantasy. Violent images on television and in movies may seem real to these children and sometimes viewing these images can even traumatize them.
Despite the negative effects media violence has been known to generate, no drastic changes have been made to deal with this problem that seems to be getting worse. We, as a whole, have glorified this violence so much that movies such as “Natural Born Killers” and television shows such as “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” are viewed as normal, everyday entertainment. It’s even rare now to find a children’s cartoon that does not depict some type of violence or comedic aggression. What we do not realize though, is that it is the children that are ending up with problems. Unlike most rational, educated adults, many children are gradually beginning to accept violence as a way to solve problems and are imitating what they observe on television. These children do not understand that the violence is shown strictly because the public wants to see it. They cannot grasp the meaning of “ratings” and “entertainment” as well as adults can. All they know is, “if the TV portrays violence as cool, then it must be cool!”
The problem isn’t the violence in the media though; it is the media’s failure to show the consequences of violence. This is especially true of cartoons, toy commercials, and music videos. Children often do not realize that it hurts to hit someone else because they see it all the time on TV. Everyday a cartoon character is beat up, injured, or killed, only to return in the very next episode, good as new. As a result, children learn that there are few, if any repercussions for committing violent acts.
Unfortunately, as long as there is an extremely high public demand for violent shows and movies, the media is going to continue on the same path. And because it looks as though the “violence craze” is going to continue for some time, we need to be dependent on parents to reduce the effect that media violence has on children, which can be done in so many different ways.
First, parents should limit the amount of television children watch per day from the average 3 to 4 hours, which is double the amount of recommended hours, to 1 to 2 hours. Children are exposed to far too much violence every day on TV, mainly because parents see the TV as a convenient babysitter. By limiting the amount of time spent in front of the “tube,” parents will compel their children to do something more productive like reading a book or playing outside. In limiting TV time, parents also need to monitor what programs their children are watching and restrict the viewing of violent programs. Just because a child is not watching as much violence, does not mean he or she still can’t be influenced by it.