What’s the most violent thing you’ve ever seen on television? A murder?
A deadly explosion?
A war report on the nightly news?
Whatever it was, the chances are, that image is etched in your memory.
I’d like to talk a little today about some of the things I’ve learned lately about TV violence , its effects in our children and solutions .and I hope that by the time I’m done, you have gained a better understanding on the subject.
The topic of media violence is highly controversial, partially it's difficult to define what the problem is and what the implications are. For example, varying standards govern the extent to which an act is violent. The impact of media violence on children is a prominent problem. However, the National Coalition on Television Violence has made an attempt to define TV violence and created Media Violence Guidelines, which describe violent acts as those that:
• Involve an agent and a victim.
• Contain an expression of overt force.
• Are committed with deliberate and hostile intent.
Their guidelines do not include accidents, emotional displays, horseplay, threats, and sport activities (Such as boxing) as acts of violence.
Now, if we accept that as a fair measure of media violence, and then apply that to what is actually being shown, this is what we find, according to the Coalition’s own publication - the NCTV News - for June 1991.
• An average of 9.5 violent acts per hour appeared on prime time TV in 1989-90.
• Saturday morning network programming featured 20 violent acts per hour in 1989-90.
• By the age of 18, a typical child has witnessed an estimated 200,000 acts of violence, including 25,000 murders.
In addition, in his book, titled "The Index of Cultural Indicators", William Bennett reports the approximate number of deaths recorded in five popular movies:
• Die Hard 2: 264
• Rambo 3: 106
• The Wild Bunch: 89
• Robocop II: 74
• Total Recall: also 74
And there’s more. Many of the people in charge of broadcasting this content agree.
A 1993 survey in Electronic Media magazine revealed that 74% of TV station managers agreed that TV was too violent.
So, now we know that the violence is there, what do we know about its effects?
The long-term effect, according to some studies, is very damaging.
Many psychologists seem to agree that the more violence viewed, the more accepting children are of violence, the more likely they are to become violent.
Drs. Eron and Huesmann of the University of Illinois carried out a 22 year study of violent behavior.
They found that the quarter of the children with the heaviest exposure to violence in 1960 at ages nine and ten were found to be convicted of criminal offences during their adult lives 150% more often than the quarter of children with the smallest exposure to violent entertainment.
Other researchers have looked at broader issues such as personality changes in young people.
When you read the results, you find some familiar observations:
• Less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
• More fearful of the world around them.
• More likely to behave in aggressive ways towards others.
• Likely to think of aggressive behaviour as normal.
All of these statistics have a problem, of course.
You can’t draw a clear line of connection between what seems to be the cause – TV violence – and what appears to be the effect – violent people.
However, it seems clear that at the very least, all this violence does have an effect on our mental well being.
Violent messages reinforce beliefs that:
• The world is a violent and generally unsafe place.
• Violence is an effective solution to problems.
• Violence is safe, glamorous, gratifying, and often has no apparent consequences.
Media violence hardly ever shows us the true effects of...