Thereis an excessive amount of violence being watched in millions of peoples homesevery day, and this contributes to the growing amount of violent crimes thatare being committed in our communities. This cycle of more and more sex andviolence being portrayed as reality on television will not stop until somethingis done. Not one parent that I know wants his or her children watching peoplegetting blown away and thrown off cliffs. But the reality of it is that parentscannot be there 24 hours a day to monitor what their children are watching.
In fact the television is often used as a baby-sitter, so that the parent cando housework, have an adult conversation, or just relax after work. The typesof people who are the most likely to be harmed by the surplus of violence onTV are children. Ed Donnerstein stated in the February 15, 1996 edition ofthe Boston Globe the following: Violence turns out to do a lot of harm whenit looks harmless. One of these lessons children learn watching televisionis that there are few consequences to the person who commits violence orto the victim. Add to this positive portrayal of negative behavior the factthat childrens programs were least likely to show the bad effects of violenceand most likely to make it funny” (Goodman pg.
23). We are showing childrenthat violence is humorous and it cant do harm. A researcher by the nameof Meltzoff studied learning in infants. He concluded that babies start tolearn even before birth. A study by Meltzoff demonstrated observational learningin 14-month-olds.
After watching an adult on television handling “a novel toyin a particular way,” the babies were able to imitate the behavior when presentedwith the toy 24 hours later (Wood pg. 292). This study indicates that babieslearn imitation very early in life. This is why parents should be more particularwith what they allow their susceptible children to view on TV. The MightyMorphin Power Rangers, television show for children, is a very good exampleof how violence on TV can affect our children. It is one of the highest ratedkids television shows today.
The Power Rangers are everywhere, on everything,from lunch boxes to boxer shorts. And kids want it all. This creates a bindfor the parents who know that these items are not so good for their kids. ThePower Rangers is one of the most violent shows around right now and kids loveit. The violence in the show has led New Zealand and two of the major networksin Canada to ban the program from their daily schedules. Nancy Carlson-Paigeof Lesley College said in the December 1, 1994 Boston Globe,” Locally, teacherssee evidence that Power Rangers interferes with normal childhood development.
It threatens to undermine childrens mental health because of the way it influencestheir play” (Meltz pg. A1). Chris Boyatzis of California State Universityat Fullerton completed the first scientific study of the impact of Power Rangerson children. It showed that those who watch the show are seven times more aggressivein their play than those who dont (Meltz pg. A1).
Micki Corley, head 4-year-oldteacher and coordinator of the Preschool Experience in Newton Centre said inthe same December 1st Boston Globe,” They are confused by it. They mimic themovements without understanding the consequences. I see kids saying thingslike, If Im the Red Ranger, Im not really Joe hitting Mary. Im Tommy orZack hitting someone evil.
But its Mary who is hurt and Mary who cries. Youcan see the confusion on their faces. Theyll say, But I didnt do that”(Meltz pg. A1).
One can see that at this stage in the preschooler life he orshe is not able to distinguish between real and pretend. Kids and Power Rangerssupporters will say that the Power Rangers do have good points about them also. They say that the characters show respect for adults, they are likable people,and there is always a moral. In fact, the program labels the morals at theend of each show. What we have to ask ourselves is, “Is it really worth it?”MarilynDroz, director of research for the National Coalition on Television Violence,conducted a study on the Power Rangers.
This is what she came up with:1. Seventy percent of the kids who watch the show say the fighting is what theylike best. 2. In an hour of Power Rangers programming, there is an averageof 211 acts of violence. A typical Saturday morning cartoon hour generallyhas 25 violent acts per hour. A typical hour of an adult show has six actsof violence (Meltz pg.
A1). The Power Rangers are an entertaining part ofour childrens day but the few minutes a day they watch may have severe circumstances. The morals, and views of reality of the kids are shattered. These childrendo not think that what they are doing is wrong when they hit or kick. Theysay,” The Power Rangers do it, why cant I?” This makes it even tougher onthe parents. They must explain that what the Power Rangers do on the televisionset is make believe.
This confuses the child because they see it with theirown eyes, yet it is not true. We must not pin point the Power Rangers as theone show that influences our childrens violent behavior. Other violent kidTV programs have a similar effect upon children. Cartoons and child programmingget most of the attention under this issue because of the damage they can doto the children, but also theatrical movies, and not prime-time series television,bear much of the blame for TVs blood-and-guts reputation. The UCLA TelevisionViolence Monitoring Report, as published by the September 20, 1995 editionof the Boston Globe, stated that of 121 television series airing during the1994-95 season, 10 were frequently violent or used violence in questionableways (Elber pg. 84).
Television and the American Child by George Comstock,states on page 27, that the National Television Violence Study, which tookthree years to finish, shows shocking information about what we are viewingeveryday. What the analysis of 2,693 television programs from 23 channels showedis that a majority of programs contain what the researchers call “harmful violence. “They found that in 73 percent of the scenes, the violence went unpunished. In nearly half of the programs with slug-fests and shoot-outs, the victimsmiraculously never appeared harmed. In 58 percent they showed no pain.
In fact,only 16 percent of the programs showed any long-term problems physical, emotionalor financial. We must show the children that the things that the charactersdo, do hurt people, and that violence is never the answer to any problem. Wemust teach the next generation how to work out his or her problems with hisor her “enemy” by talking the problem out with the other, and compromising. Another, more scientific, solution for the problem of violence on TV is theV-chip, technology that would enable parents to block violent programming. President Clinton said on the matter of the V-chip, as stated in the March6, 1996 edition of the Boston Globe, “Were handing the TV remote control backto Americas parents so that they can pass on their values and protect theirchildren” (Jackson pg.
15). New president of Creative Coalition, a groupthat lobbies for First Amendment rights, and ex-actor Christopher Reeves, supportthe V-chip, if Legislation maintains parental control of television viewingand ensure that only the industry would rate the programs. Reeve recognizes”a serious need” to curb television violence but asserted that the industry,not Congress, was best suited for the job (Hohler pg. 11).
I do not agreewith the passing of the V-chip. Why should the people who want programs withgood morals pay for this? Parents should not have to empty their pockets toblock violence and sex. All programming should be family friendly. If lightweightcomedies, public television and weekend sports are not steamy enough, thenpress your code and unleash AK-47 terror and near-porn into your living room.
Instead the Sesame Street viewers have to shell out the cash, instead of theChainsaw Massacre fans. They should go to the electronic store and buy a televisionwith a S&G-chip, for sex & guts. Let them earn their violence by paying forit. Parents of peace are about to make electronic stores rich.
Fans of gutterand gore do not have to lift a finger for either their clicker or their wallet. Ido not believe that we should be trying to solve this problem by putting amere computer chip into the TV. We need to solve the problem by going to Hollywoodand telling the industry that this type of programming in not necessary. Weneed to tell them to be creative, and use their brains. They are taking theeasy way out by showing this stuff.
In the long term we all suffer for it. Thereprobably will never be an end to the controversy of television violence. Weare getting more and more information and on the effects of television violence. All of these findings have produced an increasing awareness of the basic problemand of the need for change. We know excessive viewing of television violenceis harmful to the viewer.
It is time we take a solid stand on the issue andtell the producers of these shows that we dont want them. BibliographyComstock,George. Television and the American Child. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc.
,1991. Elber, Lynn. “Getting to the Heart of TV Violence”. Boston Globe, 20September 1995: Page 84. Goodman, Ellen. “How to Zap Violence on TV”.
BostonGlobe, 15 February 1996: Page 23. Hohler, Bob. “Christopher Reeve Argues AgainstFederal Censorship of TV, Urges Hollywood to Adopt Own Rules”. Boston Globe,24 February 1994: Page 11. Jackson, Derrick. “A G-chip, Not a V-chip”.
BostonGlobe, 6 March 1996: Page 15. Meltz, Barbara. “Beware Rangers Mixed Messages,Sidebar I: How Parents Can Become Involved, Sidebar II: Share Your HolidayStrategies”. Boston Globe, 1 December 1994: Page A1. Wood, Samuel.
The Worldof Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.