Television Perpetuates Violence
Bullets whizzing, knives twirling, fists flying -- not an uncommon sight on the television set of today. From cartoons to sitcoms, television shows depict violent acts that go unpunished and contain no painful consequences. This view of the world does not reflect reality nor does it teach our children the values, morals or behaviors we constantly tell them to practice.
Many parents don't realize that their children view the most violence watching the most innocent of shows. For example, Nickelodeon's "Loony Tunes," actually contains 80 acts of violence per hour and prime-time shows register at 60 acts of violence per hour. Children's programs are the least likely to show negative and harmful consequences of violent acts.
Even more appalling than the neglect of consequences is that 2/3 of children's programs depict violence as humorous. With violence conceived as funny, children are less likely to be bothered by violence in general or see anything wrong with it. This desensitizes children, who become more willing to tolerate increasing levels of violence in our society and also become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. When the typical American child witnesses 200,000 acts of televised violence by age 18, this desensitization becomes inevitable.(1) Children predisposed to this violent behavior accept violent acts and consider it more "normal".
Television shows give children the false belief that they are invincible. On the cartoon "The Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote", the coyote miraculously survived countless acts of violence. On one such episode the coyote attempted to catch the roadrunner by rigging a catapult to throw a huge boulder as the roadrunner ran past. As usual, the coyote's plan backfired, and the boulder fell on top of him, leaving the roadrunner untouched. But not to worry, the coyote immediately stood back up, and the only apparent effect of the incident was a few stars twirling around his head.
Children watch television and believe they can survive such occurrences, just like those on TV. For example, in 1992 the most violent prime-time show, "Young Indiana Jones", registered 60 acts of violence per hour. And, of course, the characters always returned the next week with no injuries or damages. This gives young minds a sense that they, too, are indestructible. Hundreds of programs contain characters with immortal attitudes. Attitudes that rub off on children.
Even more disturbingly, some children begin to view the world as mean and dangerous as it appears on television. Preschoolers lack the cognitive ability to distinguish fact from fantasy, especially because the vividness of television makes everything seem quite real. Crime is at least ten times more prevalent on TV as in the real world.(2) But children, and society, have a good reason to be worried. Half of North America's murders and rapes can be attributed, either...