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Running head: TELEVISION PERPETUATES VIOLENCE

 

Television Perpetuates Violence

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Television Perpetuates Violence

We live in the American society, where freedom of media is guaranteed, where we are free to express our opinion but we should regret that the liberty granted does not care for the hue and cry raised by social organizations which go unheard, especially with respect to the violence shown on our television networks. On average, young children watch about 10,000 acts of violence before they are through with their schools.

Psychological research has found that televised violence has numerous effects on the behavior of children of different ages. These include the imitation of violence and crime seen on television, reduced inhibitions against behaving aggressively, and the displacing of activities, such as socializing with other children and interacting with adults that would teach children non-violent ways to solve conflicts (Furnham, 1993). Television violence has also been found to have emotional effects on children. Children may become desensitized to real-life violence, they may come to see the world as a mean and scary place or they may come to expect others to resort to physical violence to resolve conflicts.

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School-age children are drawn to the action of violent television rather than to the violent content itself; watching high levels of television action may also make children more aggressive. School-age children have been found to behave more aggressively than usual in their play after watching high-action television with no violence in it at all. It has been found that high excitement level alone is sufficient to increase their aggression, and that vivid formal features produce such levels of excitement (Furnham, 2000). It has also been demonstrated that violent content produces substantial effects over and above those brought about by excitement alone.

TV violence, especially late-night, is connected with poor sleep patterns and less sleep for school in children. The emotional and mental stress caused by the shows can prevent children from getting to sleep and can also cause nightmares. In turn, less sleep can cause children to be less alert at the school and can also result in poor school performance.

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Several studies have been conducted by researchers, scientists and pediatricians to explore the relationship between aggressive behaviors displayed by children and violence on television (Madeline, 1996). It is established that children tend to copy what they watch on television. Various studies have concluded that the children watching violence on television have a greater probability of exhibiting aggressive behavior towards others in real life (Madeline, 1996). It has been noticed that in many of the cartoon shows, the victims of violence are caused no harm which becomes part of their beliefs i.e. Violence does not harm.

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/or victimizers.

Crimes shown on television have led the children to think that violence is the way to get whatever you want and as the result they act aggressive. Their attitude also has a developing tinge of aggression after being exposed to such violent programs (Bernard, 1998). Parents can influence their child's viewing by modifying their own viewing, since parental habits continue to be an important determinant of the amount and types of programs children are watching at this age. Fathers become more important influences than mothers, perhaps because at this age children watch more often during the times when men watch most, in prime time.

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It has been found that when parents do watch violent programs with their children but do not discuss the content with them, their children may actually become more aggressive (Madeline, 1996). It may be that children are exposed to more televised violence if they are watching television with the parents, or it may be that their parents appear to be endorsing violent activities if they watch such actions on the screen and do not comment on their inappropriateness.

More severe actions have been in use in other parts of the world, since it directly affects the children’s mind and makes them more aggressive. The governments of Sweden and Norway forbid television advertising and programs openly targeting children below the age of 12. Greece bans TV stations from publicity toys to children amid the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Quebec restricts all television advertising heading for at children under the age of 13. (Steven, 2006)  

“More than 1000 scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children and adolescents, desensitizes them to violence, and makes them believe that the world is a "meaner and scarier" place than it is. Violence appears in various forms of media entertainment, such as movies, video games, and television news. Research has shown that news reports of bombings, natural disasters, murders, and other violent crimes have the potential to traumatize young children.” (Web, 1)

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Violence shown on the television can also influence the children by increasing fearfulness. This fearfulness will damage the thinking of the child, and the child would not be able to take initiatives and achieve his goals but rather he will get demoralized and always he will be trapped in the darkness. Fearfulness, which will be evolved by observing the violent acts on the movie or TV programs, will shake his confidence by making dependent on others.

An individual can easily imitate the activities of the character shown in the TV. The activities and actions, which are shown in the movie, amuse the child and then he tries to imitate these (Furnham, 2000). TV violence pictures that guys with guns and other weapons are more powerful as compared to those who do not have these weapons. This type of presentation of the characters affects the child and he thinks that may be the guys with weapons are really dashing than he also tries to be like them at any cost (Madeline, 1996).

Bystander Effect

This means that the child who is affected by the violence will take violence and violent acts as normal part of life. He will not be able to distinguish between the rightness and wrongness of the effects of the violence. Such a child would not have sympathy towards others; he will become an aggressive and rude gentleman instead. The bystander effect of the violence will make a child in-human and he will forget all the human values, which are essential to live a healthy life.

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Conclusion and Recommendations

As the children sit in front of the set, eating potato chips, gaining weight, and filling their minds with trash and materialistic things, they don't stop to think of all that they could be doing to change the world.  If they spent just a fraction of the time that they spend watching television each day doing something for someone else, just think of the kind of world they would live in.

The researches concentrated on the causes and effects of the media and violence, amongst all these researches most common effect of the media violence was the increase in the aggressive behavior of the individuals. Every research relates aggressive behavior to the media violence.

In the end one can say that although the violence as shown in the media is harmful and dangerous for the young children .As these children are immature and are not able to discriminate the rightness and wrongness of a certain thing therefore, the adults should guide them.

Parents can hearten their children to watch programs that reveal helping, thoughtful and collaboration. Studies show that these types of programs can persuade children to turn out to be more kind and thoughtful (Barry, 1993).

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Children should be educated for the fact that what is shown in television programs and ads is a far away picture from reality so it is not to be taken seriously. But the impact of television can lead to dreadful events if the use is not regulated and this requires co-operation at all levels.

References

     Barry, D.S.: (1993) Screen Violence and America's Children,
The Journal of the Writers Guild of America

     Furnham A.: (1993) Reaching for the Counter. The New Child Consumers: Regulation or Education? Social Affairs Unit, Social Affairs Unit

     Furnham A.: (2000) Children & Advertising the Allegations and the Evidence, Social Affairs Unit

     Madeline Levine: (1996) Viewing Violence: How Media Violence Affects Your Child's and Adolescent's Development, Doubleday

(Web, 1): Children and the Media
http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/PP/pp99-01.htm

     Steven J. Kirsh: (2006) Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at the Research, Sage Publications, Inc

     Bernard Cesarone: (1998) Television violence and children, Association for Childhood Education International
 
 


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