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How Televised Violence Effects Attitudes And Behaviors

1897 words - 8 pages

This paper is going to explain how televised violence can contribute to aggressive attitudes and behavior in children. For the purposes of this paper, I would like to borrow the definition of violence used by the National Television Violence Study (1998). They defined violence as "any overt depiction of physical force--or the credible threat of such force--intended to harm an animate being or group of beings." Since 1985, television ownership has been about 98% (Bushman Anderson, 2001, p.477). As stated by the American Academy of Family Physicians, an estimated 54% of children can watch television in the privacy of their own bedrooms (2004). The amount and influence of violence on television has long been the topic of study and national debate. "For close to 30 years, dating from the 1960s to the Surgeon General's report in 1972, the National Institute of Mental Health report in 1982, and the American Psychological Association's report in 1992, more than 1,000 scientific studies have validated the premise that TV violence influences aggressive behavior in some children" (Shifrin, 1998). It seems that violence and television are as inseparable as a baby and his pacifier. The National Television Violence Study reported that 61% of all television programs contain some violence (1998). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average child will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television alone by the age of 18 (2001).Television violence is so prominent in today's society that it is hard to shelter children from being exposed to it. The average child will watch an estimated 28 hours of television a week (Simmons, Stalsworth, Wentzel, 1999). Considering that a large portion of the programs a child is exposed to contains violence, it is very likely that a child will reflect violence in his or her attitude and behavior. Furthermore, Violent programming can have a desensitizing effect on it's viewers as well as provoke an increased fear of real-world violence.First, I am going to explore how television violence can affect and shape a very young child's behavior and attitude. As most parents would tell you, when children are very young they tend to imitate attitudes and behaviors that they see. A little girl may imitate her mother by pretending to cook dinner in her play kitchen, or a little boy might imitate his father by trying to shave. Just as these children are influenced by their parents and other role models, they can just as easily be influenced by the television programs that they watch. According to Davidson (1996), "children are extremely vulnerable to television between the ages of 2 and 8 because of their inability to separate what they see [on television] from reality" (p.38). Surprisingly, television programming designed for young children tends to be the most violent. Saturday morning cartoons can contain between 20-25 acts of violence per hour, which is about 6 times as many as prime time programs. Overall 46% of...

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