Since the time television opened the doors to our homes, its content has changed essentially. Equally has changed the amount of time spent in front of the TV-sets. And if earlier television used to be approached as creature comforts, now there is a growing concern on the way it affects the viewers. Apart from extreme pressure on physical health and eyesight in particular, it has been researched that there are alarming effects on moral and mental state of each viewer, especially when he or she is rather young to resist the negative influence. Hence, one of the crucial reasons to worry is the growing amount of violence on television.
Throughout TV-programming, punching and kicking, hitting and slapping, shooting and stabbing, smashes and tortures, disasters and murders appear regularly with accelerating frequency. What is more, much of this displays are glamorized, softened, and trivialized; negative consequences of violence are demonstrated only in 13-16 percent of all the programs. Good and evil are categorical and roughly conditional; when the hero is committing violence it turns out to be justified. As Kaufman states, “On TV today, it’s not even that “bad” characters go unpunished, but that “good” characters are justified in being bad” (Kaufman 111). Evil is caricatured, and thus moral values are shifted and replaced by some simulacra. All these causes contribute to formation of new generations.
In fact, today a child in the United States spends about four hours in front of TV on average. While “two-thirds of zero-to-six-year-olds (65%) live in a home where the TV is on at least half the time or more, even if no one is watching and one-third (36%) live in ‘heavy’ TV households, where the television is left on ‘always’ or ‘most of the time” (Murray 26), scholars reveal a number of short-term (immediately evident) and long-term (surfacing years later) consequences regarding children’s private lives as well as public life on the whole.
First of all, children become less sensitive to suffering and pains of other people, as 47 percent of violence that takes place on television stays the victims go unharmed, especially it is typical for cartoons (Kaufman 113). While in cartoon and movies they see various characters constantly beating and torturing each other without any serious impacts, they start to believe there is nothing frightening in physical troubles of others. In other words, children become immune or numb to the unacceptability of violence. Watching the characters stay unharmed, violence and death seem laughable and unreal, they do not react to desensitized pains and reveal lack of empathy in future.
On the other hand, more sensible and anxious children become more afraid of the world around where there are virtually so many threats. It is states that emotionally unstable children are seriously influences by violence on TV in terms of learning behavior and impulse controls. Most psychologists are in solidarity that “experiences children have during their early years will have a longstanding impact in their lives” (Murray 27). Explicit language, nudity, sexual scenes and violence on cable television, in news and even in cartoons can bring to dramatic traumas in a child’s psyche. Both causes result in growing aggressiveness of children and teenagers.
The matter is, they often see evil left unpunished and, what is more, they cannot distinguish real life from onscreen models. Hence, their behavioral stereotypes are shaped accordingly. Degradation and humiliation are shared by virgin viewers, and they often conclude that violence can be a proper method of solving different problems and conflicts. As in early years people learn reality through imitating and mimicking, they turn to follow the style of the hero they sympathize and identify with and thus end up with punching and kicking their peers.
It goes without saying that such behavioral models further can take a form of a crime. It is indisputable that violence on TV contributes essentially to the growing rates of delinquency. Furthermore, according to the statistics, male adults who watched much TV in childhood are three times more likely to abuse their spouses. Statistically, violence on TV can be compared with passive smoking causing the cancer of lungs (Lister 19).
In this way, people throughout the world, irregardless of age, race, gender, religion and socioeconomic status are painfully affected by TV violence expressed in bloodthirsty, sexually explicit and amoral content. This problem is traced to come from easy availability of violence-rich films and programs to children inappropriate of their age, state of readiness, psychological steadiness and mental health in general. The role of educator has been lost by TV long ago, and commercially and media-driven society cannot be stopped already from such hard and immoral strategies. First and foremost, this is a task of parents to save their children from such emotional maltreatment, to regulate the programs their children watch and on the whole limit the time their children spent in front of TVs; to make them interested in other, much more useful and harmless activities, hobbies and entertainment which will provide the society with healthy and stable members.
Lister, Sam. “Study links violence on TV to child aggression”. The Times 18 Feb. 2005: 19.
Kaufman, Ron. Filling their minds with death: TV violence and children. American Academy of Children Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004.
Murray, John P. “TV Violence and Brainmapping in Children.” Psychiatric Times XVIII.10 (2001): 26-28.