Television: Teacher of Violence

By Fraracci, Lauren | Social Studies Review, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Television: Teacher of Violence


Fraracci, Lauren, Social Studies Review


In 1950, only 10% of American homes had a television and by 1960 that percentage had grown to 90%, and today, 99% of homes have a television (Facts, 2001). We just can't seem to turn it off. The plethora of shows to watch on the television is indescribable. Everything from Batman to a documentary on the evolution of basket weaving can be found on all the time, at anytime. Everyone is sucked into the mesmerizing television programming, in someway or another. The potential negative affects of violent television on young people can be ameliorated by a daily personal interaction between the parent and the child.

"Children begin to notice and react to violence on television very early. By the age of three, children will watch a show designed for them 95% of the time, when given a choice, also, the children will imitate someone in television as readily as they will imitate a live person" (Leadingham, 1). This is clearly visible when a child ties a cape around his or her neck and jumps off of a couch or piece of furniture pretending to fly. Some parents feel that the television is a good way to entertain their child with very little effort and attention on their part needed. Many parents admit to using the television as an entertainer and recognize the fact that as parents, they do not necessarily need to participate in entertaining their children, believes one mother of twins (Weiss, Interview). Parents are in a since using the television as a pacifier in the child's life. The turning point in the child's life is when the television, used as an entertainer, is introduced into the child's life as a daily occurrence. The daily occurrence of a television as a baby-sitter is not the only reason that children are so easily affected. Children and young people comprehend things quite differently than adults do and so television has much more of an influence on their daily lives (Mitka, 1). For example, when the child mentioned earlier jumps off of the furniture thinking he or she can fly truly believes that they can fly, even an adult that has not let go of their childhood would recognize the fact that due to gravity, people cannot fly. Children spend so much time in front of the ever-glowing box; they begin to believe that what they see and learn about is reality. The children simply do not understand the difference between reality and make-believe (Mitka, 2). Children then become more susceptible to the negative affects of the television they grow to admire.

Watching television is entertaining and fun because a lot of the shows admired by many are based on reality or try to depict reality to a degree. Young, grade school children tend to have the attention span of a gnat at the most. So, watching television is quite interesting to them. The children like the fact that every 5 to 10 minutes or so new and exciting things are flashed across the screen to entice them. New characters are added in bright colors and even commercials are designed to capture the attention of the young children. The commercials are short and easy for them to understand and to remember, as are the scenes of cartoon and sit-coin storylines. "Much of what children watch on television is high on action, and lacking in the areas of motivation and character development" (Kelley, 62). Most shows show an even with the climax and solution in about 20 minutes, where as in real life the same situation would take hours as well as critical thinking to conclude (Robinson, 46). Children love to watch cartoons and TV shows designed for them because the stories are easy to understand and hit the imagination of the children at the right place at the right time.

Once a child's imagination is activated, the child tends to be drawn to the shallow, flat characters depicted in only one way. Characters tend to be either a complete villain or fully a hero. Although, some type of conflict is usually present, there is never a real struggle to truly learn from and apply to daily life. …

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