Children and Violence on TV
In the past twenty years, violence on TV has become more common and
more acceptable in society. This generation is growing up in an
increasingly cruel world – where children are exposed to violence,
murders and bullying on TV. Guidelines have been put in place – but
are they really enough? In this essay I shall be discussing the
positive and negative effects of violence on TV and ask if legislation
is the way forward for TV.
Violence is shown in all types of children’s programmes, from cartoons
like “Tom and Jerry”, to children’s dramas such as “Byker Grove”.
Violence can take place in different forms – bullying and mugging are
just some of them. Today it is becoming a way of life.
Violence on TV can have quite a deep impact on children, depending on
the context in which it is shown. For example, children old enough to
understand that violence in cartoons is not real may not be influenced
by them – unlike very young children who may imitate the violent
events shown in the programme. More realistic programmes such as
“Eastenders” may be more influential to a child because the programme
contains characters that represent real people.
Soaps are often used as a vehicle to portray difficult situations with
a clear message for viewers to learn from, e.g. Janine Butcher in
“Eastenders” and her drug taking and prostitution. Her friends
started leaving her and her appearance went downhill. This was
designed to send a clear message to viewers who were contemplating
this behaviour that it would only lead to a downward spiral.
Soaps also include real life situations which the child may be
familiar with, such as domestic rows. Sometimes these scenes can be
very upsetting, because their world revolves around their home and
those close to it, i.e. family, friends and pets.
Real life violence such as CCTV footage and reconstructions of violent
events may upset and disturb children if they are not old enough to
understand it. It may also frighten them if they are viewing the
television alone, without a parent to answer their questions.
However, violence on TV does not always have a negative effect on
children. Watching real life TV shows such as “Grange Hill” may help
them deal with violence in a positive way, should they be faced with a
similar situation like that shown in the programme. For example, the
child could learn better ways of reacting (rather than using violence)
should they be confronted in an argument. Violence on TV also helps
children learn about the real world and current affairs. Personally,
I think that while children should not be exposed to violence which is