Psychology: “Violence On Television”
According to the Article “Violence on Television” published by the American Psychological Association at the website http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/violence.html, “violent programs on television lead to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch those programs.” That's the word from a 1982 report by the National Institute of Mental Health, a report that confirmed and extended an earlier study done by the Surgeon General. As a result of these and other research findings, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution in February 1985 informing broadcasters and the public of the potential dangers that viewing violence on television can have for children. Psychological research has shown three major effects of seeing violence on television: “children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others”. Children who watch a lot of TV are less bothered by violence in general, and less likely to see anything wrong with it. The article gave the example that in several studies, those who watched a violent program instead of a nonviolent one were slower to intervene or to call for help when, a little later, they saw younger children fighting or playing destructively.
Studies by George Gerbner, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that “children's TV shows contain about 20 violent acts each hour” and also “that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a mean and dangerous place.”
Children often behave differently after they've been watching violent programs on TV. In one study done at Pennsylvania State University, about 100 preschool children were observed both before and after watching television; some watched cartoons that had a lot of aggressive and violent acts in them, and others watched shows that didn't have any kind of violence. The researchers noticed real differences between the kids who watched the violent shows and those who watched nonviolent ones. According to Aletha Huston, Ph.D., “children who watch the violent shows, even 'just funny' cartoons, were more likely to hit out at their playmates, argue, disobey class rules, leave tasks unfinished, and were less willing to wait for things than those who watched the nonviolent programs.” Findings from the laboratory are further supported by field studies, which have shown the long-range effects of televised violence. Leonard Eron, Ph.D., and his associates at the University of Illinois, found that children who watched many hours of TV violence when they were in elementary school tended to also show a “higher level of aggressive behavior” when they became teenagers. By observing these youngsters until they were 30 years old, Dr. Eron found that the ones who “had watched a lot of TV when they were eight years old were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults”.
Television does influence children, however parents have tremendous power to moderate that influence. Because there is a great deal of violence in both adult and children's programming, just limiting the number of hours children watch television will probably reduce the amount of aggression they see. Parents should watch at least one episode of the programs their children watch. That way they will know what their children are watching and be able to talk about it with them. When they see a violent incident, parents can discuss with their child what caused the character to act in a violent way. They should also point out that this kind of behavior is not characteristic. They can ask their children to talk about other ways the character could have reacted, or other nonviolent solutions to the character's problem. Parents can outright ban any programs that they find too offensive. They can also restrict their children's viewing to shows that they feel are more beneficial, such as documentaries, educational shows and so on. Parents can limit the amount of time children spend watching television, and encourage children to spend their time on sports, hobbies, or with friends. Parents can encourage their children to watch programs that demonstrate helping, caring and cooperation.
Violence on Television” published by the American Psychological