Thesis Statement: Television plays a major role in the lives of Americans, but affects children the most.
II. Viewed by
III. Used as babysitter
Today’s society is heavily influenced by television. The violence disrupts a child’s learning process and can alter the moral beliefs that an older person has. Children view more violence on Saturday mornings than any other time. The cartoons aimed at little children influence youngsters to mimic violent acts because their parents do not fully explain the effects of the stunts. It is pathetic that in such a technology based society, such a simple thing as television can have a negative effect on people.
Before Television, Americans followed simple laws, believed heavily in God, were honest, and never locked their doors because they felt safe and were happy to help someone in need. TV gradually turned us into the society we have today. We break laws as if there are no consequences, many people don’t believe in God, or even attend a religious service. We lock our houses, cars, and anything worth money, because we are scared of theft. We leave people in trouble to fend for themselves, we do not have the common courtesy to help anyone. (Wheeler 84) Liquor, drugs, sex, and suicide prematurely dazzle millions of people as they see it on TV. (Wheeler 23)
Violence has been entering Prime Time TV. John Grisham’s “The Client” as shown on CBS shows two corpses and two murders in on the first 15 minutes. (Silver 2) This goes to show that the average American child will have watched 8000 depictions of murder by the time they finish 6th grade. (Abelard 1) Abelard goes on to say, If you think wall to wall violence on TV has no effect, then why would manufacturers purchase 30 second blocks to advertise their products? (2) Mark Silver says “Raunchy family fare is nothing new.”(2) He also reports that sex is gingerly mentioned in the media. There is soap-opera sex, talk-show sex subjects, and many more sex crimes on the news. Children ages 10 to 16 were polled and say that the television is the true sex educator in our day. As many as six out of ten agree that sex on television urges peers their age to have sex at a younger age. (2)
Vulgarity also rules prime time. Many shows depict sexual situations and innuendoes throughout the whole show. Sexually frank programs such as “Beverly Hills 90210”, “Roseanne” and “Ellen” are targeted to adults, but are viewed by children. A Solution to this problem would be to shift their plots to being more realistic, and have morals, instead of the vulgar language heard. (Silver 1)
TV shows create serious problems but seem to resolve them in a half an hour time. It is impossible to do this in real life, but most children can not seem to grasp this concept. TV leads children to want quick solutions to tolerate frustration. Many turn to suicide, thinking that it is the quick solution for them. (Wheeler 34)
Before the 1950’s, parents monitored what their child’s surrounding was. After TV was introduced, it unlocked a door to an alien that dominated every home. The problem was that the parents did not remain in control. If they did a normal childhood could have taken place. (Wheeler21) Today, 99% of homes have a TV. More families own a TV than a phone. (Facts about Media Violence 1)
Due to violence on television, children become less sensitive to that pain and suffering of others or to become more aggressive to others. It also makes children more fearful to the world around them. (Abelard 1) Viewing habits of children observed for many decades deduced that violence on TV is associated with aggressive behavior, more than poverty, race, or parental behavior. It also reported that a TV show contains about 20 acts of violence an hour.
Abelard says that children ages 6 to 8 are in critical years, where they learn social behavior that will stay with them forever. (2) A follow up study of aggressive 8 year olds proved that these children grew up to be ever more aggressive 19 and 30 year olds. They had greater troubles in domestic abuse, and traffic tickets. (Abelard 3)
Violent commercials that advertise action figures or video games are targeted at young boys. (Swenson 3) In the point and shoot video games, also targeted at children, young boys get the same training as police officers and army recruiters. They are taught to laugh and cheer in response to violence and are also taught that killing is the right thing to do. (Media Watch Online 1)
It is a different story for teens. They do poorly in standardized tests. Because of their time consuming TV habits they find it hard to make comparisons, reach conclusions, for judgements or create
new ideas. When bored, teens tend to turn to hard drugs to take away boredom, because they viewed it on TV. Drugs offer a quick fix, which is what they saw other fictional characters on TV do. (Wheeler 33)
Good news in the fight to cut down TV watching time, college freshmen on average drop their TV watching time a week from 30 hours to around 20. But because of this their hours of listening to radios, CDs, and MTV increased.(Wheeler 34) This isn’t as good as a thing as researchers wanted though because music is “full of dangerous and violent messages”.(Wheeler 35) Wheeler finishes by saying that, music tends to negatively reinforce the principles that we were taught to live by.(34)
There are many reasons that children get so many hours of viewing. Working parents send children to a babysitter, who instead of wanting to watch the kid places him in front of a TV. Childcare centers are to often under staffed and preschoolers there are set in front of the TV till their parents return to pick them up. (Wheeler 22) All to often the TV or VCR represents an easy way to sidetrack an unwelcome responsibility.(Wheeler 23)
Parents also lack in their observation skills. They do not set limits on the time their children watch TV. (Children and TV Violence 1) Would you leave out graphic pictures on your tables so that your toddler can look over the pages? Then why wouldn’t you monitor the things they watch on TV? (Wheeler 23)
The violence, sexual content, and vulgarity that they see and hear on TV affect many people. We may not realize it until our two year old shouts out vulgarity and phrases that he heard on the Monday Night wrestling that his father or older brother watches, but the threat is always there. No other thing in history has had such a great influence on children, teens and adults. The generation now, compared to the one 50 years ago, has changed just from the technology presented to us. It is hard to imagine what the future will hold with such technological advances on equal to that of the TV.
Abelard. Children and Television Violence. 23 Oct 2000 < http://www.abelard.org/tv/tv.htm >
Children and TV Violence. 23 Oct 2000 <http://www.parenthoodweb.com/articles/phw247.htm>
Facts about Media Violence and Effects on the American Family. 18 Oct 2000 <http://www.babybag.com/
Media Watch Online- Killer Entertainment. 18 Oct 2000 < http://www.mediawatch.com/dukenuken.html >
Silver, Marc. Sex and Violence on TV. 22 Oct 2000 <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/sex&viol.htm>
Swenson, Gena. Violence on television: A class project surprised sociology student. 18 Oct 2000 < http://
Wheeler, Joe L. Remote Controlled. Hagerstown: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1993.
Winn, Marie. The Plug-In Drug. New York: Viking Penguin Inc, 1985.