Television has its good side. It can be entertaining and educational, and can open up new worlds for kids, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures, and gain exposure to ideas that may never encounter in their own community. Shows with a prosocial message can have a positive effect on kids’ behavior; programs with positive role models can influence viewers to make positive lifestyle changes. However, the reverse can also be true: kids are likely to learn things from TV that parents don’t want them to learn. TV can affect kids’ health, behavior and family life in negative ways.
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Cartoons averaged eight episodes of violence a show.
What effect does television have? Television acts as a cross-cultural influence cutting across nationalities and class. It gives people with different values and background common information. Because of the immediacy of the message, it is often seen as another member of the family. What a person sees in terms of images is bound to have an impact on their beliefs and attitudes.
Concern about violence on television began in the earliest days of the medium in the late 1940's. Killings and violence were staples of the early television shows, which featured cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, detectives and murders. As television became more popular, the rivalry for ratings led to more violence. Of major concern was the fact that children were watching TV much later than anyone had predicted and more often. Children were being exposed to more violence than ever before.
The first television code written in 1951 had a paragraph on violence in the section of children's programming. There was to be no violence for violence sake and it was never to be shown in an attractive light. Unfortunately, the admonition was not heeded. In 1954 and 1955, television was considered a factor in a Senate Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee. The report issued by the subcommittee said it was unable to find a direct and casual relationship between viewing violence on television and any criminal behavior. However, it found programming in large doses could be potentially harmful to young viewers. Since then, study after study has been conducted with controversial results that add to the debate.
By 1964, another Senate Subcommittee found that television content produced anti social behavior among juveniles. This report charged that television was becoming a school for violence. Concern continued and a landmark three year study was conducted by the government that commissioned 23 different projects on the effects of television violence. The report was issued through the Surgeon General and it concluded that television viewing could indeed be dangerous to one's health.
One study continued the experiments of the Bobo doll studies. Some children were shown a segment of a television program, which had not only commercials but also a chase, two fist fights, two shootings and a knifing. Other children were shown the same commercials but a sports event instead of the violence. The children were then lead to an "aggression machine". Each child in the experiment was given twenty opportunities to press a button that would either help another child or hurt him. In reality there was no other child.
The results indicated that those children who saw the violent show were more likely to be aggressive and push the hurt button then those children who viewed the neutral button. Moreover, researches could also predict which children would actually be more aggressive. The children's facial...