Television Violence And Children

Television violence affects children, so how can we work to keep our kids safe? Where do you draw the line?

Today's television is more violent and explicit then the television of twenty or thirty years ago. At any time, a child can turn on the t.v. and witness violence, explicit language and scenes that are sometimes far more than suggestive. These shows are seen on cable, regular television, news and cartoons. Public television is one of the safe places a child can turn to and see positive educational programs.

So what has happened to television? To compete with increasing number of cable programs and decreased costs of subscribing to cable and renting movies, television programming has had to utilize more of what it feels adults want to see: violence, nudity and sexual situations. Ratings have been issued and program locks are offered with cable subscriptions. But is this enough to protect our children?

Researchers believe that television is contributing to the delinquency of today's American children. Children in the United States watch an average of 3 - 5 hours of television daily. It can be a powerful influence on children in shaping their behavior and development. Early days of watching preschool shows assisted children with learning, but shows they watch in primetime cable and on regular television can have a negative influence.

Studies have shown that too much television may cause children to become immune or numb to the horror of violence. After seeing characters kill and hurt, children may not be able to differentiate the real life violence of murder versus the onscreen make believe violence. Children may also interpret that violence is a way to solve problems, imitating what they see on shows. Children on the playground are quick to make believe they are their favorite superhero fighting the bad guys. Too often children get hurt or hurt others not realizing the severe consequences of what they see on television as it happens in real life.

Children who can identify with a specific character as a victim, often feel angry that someone like them has gotten hurt. Excessive viewing of television violence can lead all children to become more aggressive. The impact of television violence may not surface until children are in their teens or later, and studies show that irregardless of race, religion and socioeconomic development, all children are affected by this violence.

News channels can be more detrimental to children than other television shows. When children are able to realize that the news is about real people and events, the violence can be more frightening. Today's news can be accessed almost anywhere. It becomes hard to escape major events with the news crews covering them as they unfold with such depth that it causes adults to cringe. The effect on young children could be staggering.

How can we help children sort through the news and the violence? Once sure thing is to limit the time they watch television. Let them become absorbed in other activities such as reading, playing and being outside. Help them find a hobby and see what community events they can become involved with. When they do watch television, make sure you know what they are watching and if you feel something is not appropriate, don't let them watch or watch with them and make sure you take the time to answer their questions and explain what may upset them.

When your child does watch something that is violent and it has clearly upset them, it is important to help them through that. Make sure you have them realize that something that is real is permanent, while what happens to the actors of a show is not. Talking to your child is the key to resolving their fears and concerns.

We cannot control everything that our children see and are exposed to. If we start at home and work with our children to regulate the television, we are taking the first step in helping them. Being involved with our children at every age is vital to their development and maturity. Young children need as much guidance as older children, just with a different focus. Love and knowledge can take our children far. Television used to open doors to our minds and it still can when viewed responsibly and sensibly. Don't eliminate all of television, just eliminate the violence and the explicit. Watch the television and watch your children. Together you will open all the possible doors.

© High Speed Ventures 2011