Television has been around for over a half century. The first view of TV in the United States took place at a World's Fair in 1939, but standard television broadcasting did not begin until the late 1940s. Worry about the influence of television on children began when TV was in its early years. Early on in the 1950s, educators and parents began to ask legislators to "do something" about the amount of violence on TV. This concern still exists today. Parents have reservations about the quality of television programs intended for children, the amount of advertising aimed at young viewers, and the manner in which television depicts men, women and ethnic minorities. There are also apprehensions about the effects of the amount of time that children spend watching television in general.
The quality of children's programming has changed over the years. Violence on television is increasingly gaining acceptance from today's society. Studies show that viewing violent acts on television affects children negatively. The impact of violence can desensitizing a child's feelings to the pain of others, produce fear of the world around them, and promote aggression towards others. Studies have shown that children's television shows contain about 20 violent acts each hour and also that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a cruel and dangerous place.
Children often behave differently after watching violent programs on television. In one study done at Pennsylvania State University, about 100 preschool children were observed both before and after watching television; some watched cartoons that had numerous aggressive and violent acts; others watched shows that didn't have any kind of violence. The researchers observed variations between the kids who viewed the violent shows and those who viewed nonviolent ones. Children who watched the violent shows were more likely to strike out at playmates, argue, go against authority and were less willing to wait for things than those children who watched nonviolent programs. Studies have also found that children who watched many hours of television violence when they were in elementary school were inclined to also show a higher level of aggressive behavior when they became teenagers.
On average, five violent acts are committed during 1 hour of "prime time" television programming and 20 to 25 violent acts occur each hour on Saturday morning "children's programs." Before they leave elementary school, children who watch the typical amount of TV will see about 20,000 murders and more than 80,000 other assaults. That's about 100,000 violent acts witnessed by children before they become teenagers. Some of the violence will show on realistic programs and some will show on cartoons. Even though scientists are certain that children can pick up aggressive behavior from television, they are also sure that parents can limit some of these effects.
Another concern among parents is the...