subject = English
title = Television Violence
papers = Television Violence
violence is a negative message of reality to the children who see it. There
is an excessive amount of violence being watched in millions of people's homes
every day, and this contributes to the growing amount of violent crimes that
are being committed in our communities. This cycle of more and more sex and
violence being portrayed as reality on television will not stop until something
Not one parent that I know wants his or her children watching people
getting blown away and thrown off cliffs. But the reality of it is that parents
cannot be there 24 hours a day to monitor what their children are watching.
In fact the television is often used as a baby-sitter, so that the parent can
do housework, have an adult conversation, or just relax after work.
of people who are the most likely to be harmed by the surplus of violence on
TV are children. Ed Donnerstein stated in the February 15, 1996 edition of
the Boston Globe the following:
Violence turns out to do a lot of harm when
it looks harmless. One of these lessons children learn watching television
is that there are few consequences to the person who commits violence - or
to the victim. Add to this 'positive' portrayal of negative behavior the fact
that children's programs were least likely to show the bad effects of violence
and most likely to make it funny" (Goodman pg. 23).
We are showing children
that violence is humorous and it can't do harm.
A researcher by the name
of Meltzoff studied learning in infants. He concluded that babies start to
learn even before birth. A study by Meltzoff demonstrated observational learning
in 14-month-olds. After watching an adult on television handling "a novel toy
in a particular way," the babies were able to imitate the behavior when presented
with the toy 24 hours later (Wood pg.292). This study indicates that babies
learn imitation very early in life. This is why parents should be more particular
with what they allow their susceptible children to view on TV.
Morphin Power Rangers, television show for children, is a very good example
of how violence on TV can affect our children. It is one of the highest rated
kids television shows today. The Power Rangers are everywhere, on everything,
from lunch boxes to boxer shorts. And kids want it all. This creates a bind
for the parents who know that these items are not so good for their kids.
Power Rangers is one of the most violent shows around right now and kids love
it. The violence in the show has led New Zealand and two of the major networks
in Canada to ban the program from their daily schedules. Nancy Carlson-Paige
of Lesley College said in the December 1, 1994 Boston Globe," Locally, teachers
see evidence that Power Rangers interferes with normal childhood development.
It threatens to undermine children's mental health because of the way it influences
their play" (Meltz pg. A1).
Chris Boyatzis of California State University
at Fullerton completed the first scientific study of the impact of Power Rangers
on children. It showed that those who watch the show are seven times more
in their play than those who don't (Meltz pg. A1).
Micki Corley, head 4-year-old
teacher and coordinator of the Preschool Experience in Newton Centre said in
the same December 1st Boston Globe," They are confused by it. They mimic the
movements without understanding the consequences. I see kids saying things
like, 'If I'm the Red Ranger, I'm not really Joe hitting Mary. I'm Tommy or
Zack hitting someone evil.' But it's Mary who is hurt and Mary who cries. You
can see the confusion on their faces. They'll say, 'But I didn't do that'"
(Meltz pg. A1). One can see that at this stage in the preschooler life he or
she is not able to distinguish between real and pretend.
Kids and Power Rangers
supporters will say that the Power Rangers do have good points about them also.
They say that the characters show respect for adults, they are likable people,
and there is always a moral. In fact, the program labels the morals at the
end of each show. What we have to ask ourselves is, "Is it really worth it?"
Droz, director of research for the National Coalition on Television Violence,
conducted a study on the Power Rangers. This is what she came up with:
Seventy percent of the kids who watch the show say the fighting is what they
2. In an hour of Power Rangers programming, there is an average
of 211 acts of violence. A typical Saturday morning cartoon hour generally
has 25 violent acts per hour. A typical hour of an adult show has six acts
of violence (Meltz pg. A1).
The Power Rangers are an entertaining part of
our childrens' day but the few minutes a day they watch may have severe
The morals, and views of reality of the kids are shattered. These children
do not think that what they are doing is wrong when they hit or kick. They
say," The Power Rangers do it, why can't I?" This makes it even tougher on
the parents. They must explain that what the Power Rangers do on the television
set is make believe. This confuses the child because they see it with their
own eyes, yet it is not true.
We must not pin point the Power Rangers as the
one show that influences our children's violent behavior. Other violent kid
TV programs have a similar effect upon children.
Cartoons and child programming
get most of the attention under this issue because of the damage they can do
to the children, but also theatrical movies, and not prime-time series television,
bear much of the blame for TV's blood-and-guts reputation. The UCLA Television
Violence Monitoring Report, as published by the September 20, 1995 edition
of the Boston Globe, stated that of 121 television series airing during the
1994-95 season, 10 were frequently violent or used violence in questionable
ways (Elber pg. 84).
Television and the American Child by George Comstock,
states on page 27, that the National Television Violence Study, which took
three years to finish, shows shocking information about what we are viewing
everyday. What the analysis of 2,693 television programs from 23 channels showed
is that a majority of programs contain what the researchers call "harmful violence."
They found that in 73 percent of the scenes, the violence went unpunished.
In nearly half of the programs with slug-fests and shoot-outs, the victims
miraculously never appeared harmed. In 58 percent they showed no pain. In fact,
only 16 percent of the programs showed any long-term problems - physical,
or financial. We must show the children that the things that the characters
do, do hurt people, and that violence is never the answer to any problem. We
must teach the next generation how to work out his or her problems with his
or her "enemy" by talking the problem out with the other, and compromising.
Another, more scientific, solution for the problem of violence on TV is the
V-chip, technology that would enable parents to block violent programming.
President Clinton said on the matter of the V-chip, as stated in the March
6, 1996 edition of the Boston Globe, "We're handing the TV remote control back
to America's parents so that they can pass on their values and protect their
children" (Jackson pg. 15).
New president of Creative Coalition, a group
that lobbies for First Amendment rights, and ex-actor Christopher Reeves, support
the V-chip, if Legislation maintains parental control of television viewing
and ensure that only the industry would rate the programs. Reeve recognizes
"a serious need" to curb television violence but asserted that the industry,
not Congress, was best suited for the job (Hohler pg. 11).
I do not agree
with the passing of the V-chip. Why should the people who want programs with
good morals pay for this? Parents should not have to empty their pockets to
block violence and sex. All programming should be family friendly. If lightweight
comedies, public television and weekend sports are not steamy enough, then
press your code and unleash AK-47 terror and near-porn into your living room.
Instead the Sesame Street viewers have to shell out the cash, instead of the
Chainsaw Massacre fans. They should go to the electronic store and buy a television
with a S&G-chip, for sex & guts. Let them earn their violence by paying for
it. Parents of peace are about to make electronic stores rich. Fans of gutter
and gore do not have to lift a finger for either their clicker or their wallet.
do not believe that we should be trying to solve this problem by putting a
mere computer chip into the TV. We need to solve the problem by going to Hollywood
and telling the industry that this type of programming in not necessary. We
need to tell them to be creative, and use their brains. They are taking the
easy way out by showing this stuff. In the long term we all suffer for it.
probably will never be an end to the controversy of television violence. We
are getting more and more information and on the effects of television violence.
All of these findings have produced an increasing awareness of the basic problem
and of the need for change. We know excessive viewing of television violence
is harmful to the viewer. It is time we take a solid stand on the issue and
tell the producers of these shows that we don't want them.
George. Television and the American Child. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc.,
Elber, Lynn. "Getting to the Heart of TV Violence". Boston Globe, 20
September 1995: Page 84.
Goodman, Ellen. "How to Zap Violence on TV". Boston
Globe, 15 February 1996: Page 23.
Hohler, Bob. "Christopher Reeve Argues Against
Federal Censorship of TV, Urges Hollywood to Adopt Own Rules". Boston Globe,
24 February 1994: Page 11.
Jackson, Derrick. "A G-chip, Not a V-chip". Boston
Globe, 6 March 1996: Page 15.
Meltz, Barbara. "Beware Rangers' Mixed Messages,
Sidebar I: How Parents Can Become Involved, Sidebar II: Share Your Holiday
Strategies". Boston Globe, 1 December 1994: Page A1.
Wood, Samuel. The World
of Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.