Much Violence on TV?
What Can You Do?
By Leah Davies, M.Ed.
In-depth studies have found that violent programming, including cartoons, can have a negative impact upon children. Viewing violence can:
- desensitize a child toward violent acts;
- decrease a child's sensitivity toward victims;
- increase a child's fearfulness;
- contribute to a childs aggressive behavior;
- teach that violent acts lead to success;
- decrease imaginative and cooperative play;
- increase acceptance of gang behavior;
- undermine the development of humane social values.
So, what can parents do to protect their child?
- Be a positive example and use good judgment concerning
the selection of television programs and movies to be viewed. Consider
the childs developmental level and encourage the selection
of worthwhile programs such as those on public television. Decide
together which programs to watch. Record programs so that viewing
may be done together and the tape may be paused for discussion.
Comment when you agree with the values portrayed by the actors.
Check out quality program videos at your local library.
- Watch television with your child. Explain the difference between fact and fiction. If fighting occurs, comment that although the actors are pretending to be hurt, such violent acts in real life result in pain and suffering. Discuss ways to deal with problems other than by hurting people.
- Turn the television and other objectionable media off when the material is contradictory to your family values.
Explain to your child why you disapprove. Consider using a television
lockout device to prevent exposure to adult programming.
Provide soft music or silence during family meals that contribute
to friendly conversation. Furnish a calm place where your child can
relax or read.
- Resist the temptation to put a television in your
childs room. Instead locate it where viewing can be monitored. If your family is on the internet, keep the computer in a central location.
- Encourage your child to become involved in activities.
Foster participation in hobbies, imaginative play, music, art, crafts,
gardening, household tasks, yard work, cooking, and other worthwhile
projects. Invite your childs friends to play at your home or
apartment. Do more reading, walking, talking, listening, and playing
together. Take trips to libraries, museums, zoos, farms, fairs, and
other interesting places. Involve your child in programs that promote
healthy development like sports, scouts, clubs, camps, and/or religious
- Be an advocate for quality television programming.
Join forces with other parents and teachers to set television viewing
guidelines. Write television officials, corporate sponsors, government
regulatory agencies, and congressional leaders to express your views.
For further information on this topic see "Children and Television."