Violence on TV Can Have Harmful Effect on Children

By Sutherland, Lisa | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 21, 1996 | Go to article overview

Violence on TV Can Have Harmful Effect on Children


Sutherland, Lisa, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Lisa Sutherland Special to the Daily Herald

American children watch an average of three to four hours of television daily. Television can be a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior.

Unfortunately, much of today's television programming is violent. Hundreds of studies of the effects of TV violence on children and teenagers have found that children may: become "immune" to the horror of violence; gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems; imitate the violence they observe on television; and identify with certain characters, victims and victimizers.

Extensive viewing of television by children causes greater aggressiveness. Sometimes, watching a single violent program can increase aggressiveness.

Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished are more likely to imitate what they see. The impact of TV violence may be immediately evident in the child's behavior or may surface years later, and young people can even be affected when the family atmosphere shows no tendency toward violence.

This does not mean that violence on television is the only source for aggressive or violent behavior, but it is a significant contributor.

Parents can protect children from excessive TV violence in the following ways:

- Pay attention to the programs their children are watching and watch some with them

- Set limits on the amount of time they spend with the television

- Point out that although the actor has not actually been hurt or killed, such violence in real life results in pain or death

- Refuse to let the children see shows known to be violent, and change the channel or turn off the TV set when something offensive comes on, with an explanation of what is wrong with the program

- Disapprove of the violent episodes in front of the children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not the best way to resolve a problem

- To offset peer pressure among friends and classmates, call other parents and agree to enforce similar rules about the length of time and type of program the children may watch. …

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