An issue that has many Americans in uproar is the possibility that aggressive behavior and destructive acts are caused from television violence. The battle for limiting television violence has been an issue since the 1970s. Evidence has shown that television violence has caused aggression in children and adults. Also this exposure to television violence has desensitized society to real-world violence, and alters youth’s perception of violence. Television violence should be limited because of the effects it has on America and the world.
Since 1946, when violence was first introduced, there were changes found in the behavior and perception of children and adults exposed to television violence. There is now solid evidence to suggest a relationship between exposure to violence on television and aggressive behavior. Researchers have found that children are more physically and verbally aggressive immediately after watching violent television and movies (ACT). The percentage of violence portrayed in television programs has been at sixty-one percent for the last couple of years and only four percent promote an anti-violent theme (Media Awareness Network). Over fifty percent of the programs on television today contain violent scenes and actions. The most shocking statistic of violence affecting society is that those who have watched less than an hour of television a day, 5.7 percent had committed a violent act that resulted in serious injury (ACT). The percentage increases to 18.4 percent for just three hours of daily watching, that is more than three times the percent for just one hour (ACT). Studies of the content analysis of prime-time output on seven New York City channels showed that there were 3,431 acts and threats of violence observed (Gunter, p13). Unfortunately not everyone can distinguish fact from fiction. Seeing violence on television desensitizes the viewer to violent acts (MAN). Children watching violent programs desensitize themselves to fear and violence, also in the future they will become more tolerant of violence in the real world. Studies of Children’s fictional entertainment programs showed to have three times the frequency of violent acts or threats recorded in adult programs (Gunter, p13). Children perceive violence differently than adults; they cannot distinguish fact from fantasy. When children see cartoon characters beating each other over the head with mallets they see humorous violence, but what they don’t see is the repercussion of those actions. The NTVS report notes that for over three years out of a variety of violent television programs 58 percent depict no pain, 47 percent depict no harm, 40 percent depict harm unrealistically, and 43 percent show humorous violence. Only 16 percent of violent programs feature the long-term, realistic consequences of violence (Media Awareness Network). Looking at this information it is easy to come to the conclusion that violence on television causes aggression and makes children more acceptable to violence.
There are many arguments against limiting violence on television because they believe that when a violent act is committed it must be from a rough childhood or some other dramatic event in early childhood. Another argument is that when people commit a violent act they should take responsibility for their own actions. In the article “Sex and Violence” Joe Saltzman states, “If, as producers argue, violence is a part of the human condition, then so is responsibility; in real life no one can cause mayhem and then just go one to the next scene without repercussions” (Saltzman). If the producers are telling the viewer to act responsibly then the producer shouldn’t put out a product that a young irresponsible child can get a hold of. It is also necessary to realize that violence is part of our nature and in our life. Almost everyday we are observers or participants of violence, whether it is natural violence, theatrical or fictional violence, sporting event violence, or political violence. However, those types of violence mentioned above are not portrayed as a television show; they are sports, art, political, and natural violence that show the consequences of people’s actions. A further argument against limiting violence on television is that the producers don’t know whether the person viewing their program had a rough childhood that needed some thing to set them off or the program actually caused their aggression. This also leads them to point fingers at the parent’s ability to raise their child. If the parents haven’t taught their child that the actions they see on television are wrong and have serious consequences, then the child will only see the humorous side of violence. The repetitive arguments from the producers and directors have always been the responsibility for your own actions and the background history of the child or adult. Even today these arguments are being proved wrong time and time again.
Reading this information it is easy to tell that violence in television aids or increases aggression, makes people desensitized to violence in real-life, and it gives children a false perspective on violence and the consequences following a violent action. Furthermore studies continue to prove the arguments of the producers and directors wrong. The only solution is providing limited violence if not any violence on television programs for the well being of our youth and fellow man.
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