Television Violence and Its Effects on Children
Often thought of as one of the most fascinating inventions of the Twentieth Century, television has undoubtedly become a major part of our lives, providing us with entertainment and information. However, much of what is on the television today involves violence. Why? Because viewers want to see action and excitement, which usually involves something being blown up, or someone being shot. The only problem is that many of these viewers are children. They watch so much violent television throughout their lives, one must wonder if it has any effect on them at all. After reviewing all the evidence, it is obvious that violent television viewing does affect children in a negative way.
By the time a child becomes an adult, he has witnessed over 144,000 acts of violence on a television screen (APA, 1997). These acts of violence are absorbed by a child's mind, and the child learns about violent acts, and how to commit them, through television. But does this mean that just because a child watches violence on TV, they will commit these acts of violence in real life? There is evidence to prove that yes, children do imitate what they see on television. By the age of three, children often imitate characters they see on television (Ledingham, 1993). Oftentimes, what a child is watching on television involves an act of violence, and therefore a child, at some point or
another, will commit an act of violence in real life, due to what he learned from TV (Ledingham, 1993). When a child watches violent actions that are either rewarded or not punished on television, the probability of imitating the behavior increases (Ledingham, 1993).
As a child ages, they become more mature and begin to understand that what is on television is not what reality is like. By the time they are teenagers, most have learned right from wrong, and they are less likely to imitate violent acts which they learned from television. However, this does not mean that violence on television does not have a negative impact on children and young teenagers. A 1993 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that "viewing violence increases desensitization to violence, resulting in callused attitudes towards violence." What this means is that as a child grows, they begin to accept violence as a normal aspect of their lives. At first, mild acts of violence are considered normal. But as a child continues to watch acts of violence which get more and more violent in nature, they begin to see these acts as part of their everyday lives, which can lead to problems (Leone, 1995). Because of this desensitization towards violence, a person getting beat up or an animal being hurt may seem normal to the child, who may even participate in these acts of violence.
Another fact to point out to prove that violence on television...