Television Violence in Society

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Violence is all over the media today, contained within the daily news, music, newspapers, and television. It is especially seen within popular programs among children. Children are easily influenced by what they view, which is why violence on television negatively affects the way children behave. All too often today, we hear about children committing some heinous crime which is frequently media-related. Take for instance this excerpt from Douglas Rushkoff's essay "Hating What Sucks": In October of 1993, a five-year-old named Austin Messner set a fire that cost his baby sister Jessica her life. The local fire chief blamed Beavis and Butt-head's antics for having inspired the child's pyromania, and Attorney General Janet Reno, already riding a wave of public distaste for violence on television, had a new example of just how dangerous the media had become. MTV ducked for cover and changed the "Beavis and Butt-head" time slot so kids couldn't watch (Rushkoff 221). In other words, Rushkoff is saying that people watch the mannerisms of characters on television, and feel that their actions represent real life; the way the characters act, speak, and handle situations portray the regular fashion in which everyday people act. Kids are especially prone to this idea. MTV's "Beavis & Butt-head" aids in promoting the idea to children that everything they do is permissible and normal behavior. MTV portrays the idea that it is acceptable for anyone to mimic the antics of these two characters, who often perform obstructive and potentially harmful acts. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry tells the public that "extensive viewing of television violence by children causes greater aggressiveness. Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated, or unpunished, are more likely to imitate what they see" ("Children & TV Violence", Internet). Beavis and Butt-head are incessantly up to something; whatever they want to do, they will go ahead and do. They are never severely punished for their wrongful actions. These ideas listed above influenced Messner to set the fire to his home, killing his younger sister. He saw Beavis and Butt-head start a fire, or play with fire, which in turn caused him to imitate their action. "Beavis and Butt-head" is not the only animated show that influences the actions of children today. Saturday morning cartoons are quite popular among the younger generation. Kids today are basically brought up watching these shows. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Saturday morning children's programming ranges from 20 to 25 violent acts per hour" ("Feature Films For Families: TV Violence Statistics", Internet). With such a large audience, and with children being so influenced by what they watch, it is not surprising that violence occurs in children due to television today. How is it that these portrayals of violence influence children? Psychological research has shown three major effects of seeing violence on television, in which the first one is that "children become immune to the horror of violence" ("Children & TV Violence", Internet). They view different acts of violence everyday on television shows, in which more often than not the wrongdoer is undisciplined and unpunished for their actions. Seeing characters get away with violence everyday of their lives causes children to believe that performing violent acts is a normal everyday act; they learn to develop a desensitization for violence. A statement made on the American Academy of Pediatrics' web page backs up this idea. It states that "media violence affects children by increasing aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, making them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, and increasing their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life", ("Media Violence and Media Literacy", Internet). From the constant viewing of violent programs, children find nothing wrong with imitating these violent...
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