Children Hardened to Rising Flood of Television Violence

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

Children Hardened to Rising Flood of Television Violence


Byline: ANDR PAINE

CHILDREN have become hardened to violent scenes in soap operas because they are now so common, new research reveals today.

Many nine to 13-year-olds dismiss domestic fights in shows such as EastEnders as "just television".

Groups of children were shown images from TV programmes and films and were then asked for their interpretation of the onscreen violence.

Researchers found the youngsters had become desensitised to the violent content of some programmes and in many cases admitted watching films only supposed to be viewed by adults.

Comments from the children after watching the EastEnders footage included "It's just TV", "That's all part of soaps" and "It has to happen in soap operas".

Researchers could only show them material appropriate to their age group.

But many of the youngsters kept diaries of their other viewing and had watched much stronger material, including films such as The Terminator, Saving Private Ryan, Scream and Hannibal.

The children were shown scenes of confrontations and violence from EastEnders and Grange Hill, as well as the Lord Of The Rings movies and Spider-Man, but they did not regard such scenes as violent.

John Beyer, who worked with Mary Whitehouse in the National Viewers and Listeners Association, now Mediawatch UK, said television companies should boycott Hollywood films t h at i nclude scenes of gratuitous violence.

He said: "I am worried that children are becoming blase to what they see on television. Violence is familiar and glamorous and they see these people as their heroes and role models.

"Broadcasters have to play a role to undo some of the damage they have done. They should boycott the violent films and have a more socially responsible approach.

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