Violence on Television Essay example

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Violence on Television
Mande Breen
June 3, 2012

Violence on Television Studies indicate that many children today spend more time in front of a television set than they do almost anywhere else, with school being one of the only exceptions. It is important to know what children are watching and what possible effects this can have on their attitudes and behaviors. Television has the ability to influence many aspects of a child’s life, with attitudes and behaviors possibly being the most serious area. Children are known to often mimic what they see and what they hear, which is not always a good thing, because what they see and hear does not always have a positive effect. With the increasing amount of violent television programs that are made available to children, parents need to be more aware than ever of what their children are watching. Continued exposure to television violence contributes to an increase in aggressive and violent behavior among children. The increasing amount of television that children watch causes them to view large amounts of violence and crime. Television shows almost all portray violence or aggression in one form or another. Almost all families with children have at least one television set in their home. Most American children even have televisions in their bedrooms, including about 30% of children age three and younger (Anderson et al., 2003). The fact that children spend approximately four hours per day in front of a television increases the likelihood that they will view violent crimes and behavior multiple times throughout the day. The introduction of the V-chip (V for violence) in 1996 allowed parents the opportunity to block programs that they believed were inappropriate for their children to watch. Many parents may think that allowing their children to watch cartoons or other children’s programs will reduce the level of violence they are exposed to, but according to experts cartoons and children’s television shows introduce children to an alarming amount of crime and aggressive behaviors. Adding to this is the fact that the violence that children are viewing is often unjustified and unpunished. Many children’s shows and cartoons glorify violence, or show it in a humorous way. Violence is commonly portrayed on cartoons as a way for the character to get what they want or to get out of trouble, leading children to believe that this is a viable option for them as well. According to research, children who think that violence against others is acceptable are more to become physically aggressive themselves when compared to children who understand that violence is wrong. This means that the fact that 40% of violent scenes on television center around humor and 45% feature characters that participate in violent acts and are seldom punished for these acts can contribute to aggressive actions and behaviors among children (Anderson et al., 2003). The portrayal of violent television shows to children causes harm to children in different ways, including allowing them to think that violence is an acceptable form of behavior. The amount of violence portrayed on television can lead to youth becoming desensitized to real life violent acts. Through television, children are led to believe that violence and aggression are acceptable forms of behavior. In 2011, Hoffman said, “a viewer is more likely to become desensitized to violence from watching episodes with repeated graphic violent behavior or a context of humor”. According to Anderson et al., children who watch a violent show are slower to ask for help from an adult when they witness younger children fighting when compared to children who did not watch a violent show (2003). When children are repeatedly exposed to violence on television, they begin to believe that these types of behaviors are appropriate. According to Gentile et al, exposure to television violence “may shape a person’s general attitudes regarding the acceptability of