Since 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health, along with other reputable health organizations has collected data that connects media violence, with violent acts. Conclusions deduced from this data prove that violent programs on television lead to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch those programs. Television violence affects young people of all ages, all socio-economic levels, and all levels of intelligence.
Today’s children view vast amounts of violence on television. A steady diet of death, killings, torture, and other grotesque acts may be viewed on any day by vulnerable youth. When children are young, they are impressionable to all their surroundings, and especially vulnerable to what they see. Scientific research validates this fact. In studies by the National Institute of Mental Health, educators have learned that children who watch violence often act out this violence.
Parents today have a responsibility to ensure their children are supervised when watching violent programs if they are allowed to watch these programs at all. When parents are in the room with children, parents should point out to children that television is not real. Children tend to see television as real life, and lack the maturity to differentiate the difference between news and fiction programs on television. Studies by George Gerbner, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that children’s television shows contain about twenty violent acts each hour and that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a mean and dangerous place.
Society sees many tragic examples of research findings on youth and television violence. One such example occurred in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1999. At the time, Justin Douglas was a cute, intelligent five-year-old little boy with loving parents and a safe; middle class home. One day, Justin watched his favorite cartoon heroes; Beavis and Butt-head, on MTV perform one of their famous arson stunts. The cartoon program, created for a mature audience, often contains foul language, drinking, comments about setting fires, smoking, and portrays stealing as acceptable. Justin tried the same stunt he had watched. The real life result was not a cartoon. His home was set on fire and his younger sister lost her life when she could not be rescued from the smoke.
From the beginning of the wide use of mass media, from films to radio to television, and now with internet media, researchers have tried to explain the correlation between media and violence. This association has been easy to support and is substantiated in every major scientific report released in the last twenty years. It has become general knowledge to professional counselors and educators that excessive and unsupervised exposure to television violence increases the use of violence to resolve conflict, while it desensitizes these youth to acts of...