Television Violence and Children
Thanks to the miracle of television the average American child watches 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school (Early Concerns 113). Television violence is responsible for the increase in childhood violence. Watching violence is a popular form of entertainment, and watching it on television is the number one way that children are exposed to violence. Local news shows provide extensive converage of violent crimes in order to increase their ratings (Felson 96). Violence usually refers to physical aggression and aggression is usually defined as any behavior involving intent to harm another person (Sege 34).
Television is a central feature of contemporary American life. American children spend more time watching television than they do in school. In 1989, the average child in the United States spent more time watching television than performing any other activity, except sleeping. In 1989 The Nielson Report on Television commented that children age 2 to 5 viewed approximately 27 hours of television per week. Children 6 to 11 years of age viewed more than 23 hours of television per week, and adolescents between 12 to 17 years of age viewed 22 hours of television per week (Sege 32). During the past several decades, violent programs have been steadily increasing in numbers on television screens. Many believe that there could be the possibility that a direct relationship exists between the violence witnessed on television and the increasingly violent behavior of children and adolescents (Palermo 23). Coming at a time when the homicide rate is
rising six times faster than the population it is theorized that television violence does cause actual violence (Early Concerns 114).
The year 1992 set an all-time record for violence in children's shows, with an average of 32 violent acts per hour. The nightly dose of splattering blood, rapes, car wrecks and screaming victims on television has tripled in the last decade (Johnson 18).
Only on television is there violence without pain. Sometimes, television violence is even supposed to be funny, but grownups know, or are supposed to know, that real violence causes lots of pain and sadness.
A young gunshot victim is brought into an emergency room and he astonished
his Doctors. He expressed surprise that his wound actually hurt. His Doctors
first thought, "Boy! This boy is really stupid." But it dawned on the Doctors
that what the sees on television is that when the superhero gets shot in the arm,
he uses that arm to hold onto a truck going 85 miles an hour around a corner.
He overcomes the driver and shoots a couple of hundred people while he is at
it. (Early Concerns 112)
Another example of violence in children's television is seen in the cartoon Teenage Mutant...