Violence among our youth has spread widely throughout the nation. This can be linked to several problems in our society, but mainly one. The constant barrage of television and media violence causes deviant behavior in children. When children are young they are very impressionable by the things around them. Often kids are influenced by what they see. If kids are watching shows or being introduced to violent acts they too will tend to act out this violence (Huesmann and Eron, 1986). The results of studies on the effects of televised violence are consistent. By watching aggression, children learn how to be aggressive in new ways and they also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will bring them rewards (Huesmann and Eron, 1986).
Children begin to notice and react to television and media influence very early. By the age of three, children will willingly watch a show designed for them 95% of the time and will imitate someone on television as readily as they will imitate a live person. The average time children spend watching television rises from about two and a half hours per day at age twelve. During adolescence, average viewing time drops off to two to three hours a day. Children from the ages 6-11 spend more time watching television than they do in the classroom (Centerwall, 1992). The level of violence that they see on prime time television is about five violent acts per hour and the level of violence on Saturday that includes cartoons morning programming is about 20 to 25 violent acts per hour (Centerwall, 1992). At this rate, the average American child will see 8,000 murders before they finish elementary school! Those children who see TV characters getting what they want by hitting are more likely to strike out themselves in imitation. Even if the TV character has a so-called good reason for acting violently (as when a police officer is shown shooting down a criminal to protect others), this does not make young children less likely to imitate the aggressive act than when there is no good reason for the violence (Huesmann and Eron, 1986). In a behavioral study carried out in the U.S, children were found to have become significantly more aggressive two years after television was introduced to their town for the first time (Kimball and Zabrack, 1986). Children who prefer violent television shows when they are young have been found to be more aggressive later on, and this may be associated with trouble with the law in adulthood (Huesmann, 1986). Strong identification with a violent TV character and believing that the TV situation is realistic are both associated with greater aggressiveness (Huesmann and Eron, 1986). In general, boys are more affected by violent shows that girls are. Besides making children more likely to act aggressively, violence on television may have other harmful effects. First, it may lead children to accept more aggressive behavior in others. Second, it may make children more fearful as they come to believe that violence is as common in the real world as it is on television (Huesmann, 1986). On June 10, 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a definitive study on the effect of television violence. In nations, regions, or cities where television appears there is an immediate explosion of violence on the playground, and within fifteen years there is a doubling of the murder rate. Why fifteen years? That is how long it takes for a brutalized toddler to reach the "prime crime" years. That is how long it takes before you begin to reap what you sow when you traumatize and desensitize children. (Howe, 60). JAMA concluded, "the introduction of television in the 1950s caused a subsequent doubling of the homicide rate, i.e., long-term childhood exposure to television is a causal factor behind approximately one-half of the homicides committed in the United States, or approximately 10,000 homicides annually." The study went on to state, "if,...
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