Television Violence and Children
Television and Children: Understanding and Combating Media Violence
With the right programming, a television can provide entertainment and education for children. However, as we all know, it contains a significant amount of negative images. Television violence, harsh language, and sexually explicit content, as well as aggressive marketing, are prevalent. It's those types of images and messages which most professionals and parents wish to eliminate for young children.
Of course, such violent content isn't confined just to television. Music, video games and more are in question.
Should parents really be concerned about television and children? What does the research show as far as the effects of TV violence? This page focuses primarily on the case against exposure to media violence, tips for parents to counteract or block such programming, and help in finding the best viewing options out there. Learn all about this by reading further.
What Are the Effects of Television Violence on Children?
Over the past 30 years, thousands of studies have examined the effects of TV violence on children. Viewing violence on TV has been linked to aggression in both males and females despite other factors such as intelligence, social status, or parenting style. It has been said to be a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior.
Clearly, viewing violence on TV is not the only influence and its effect varies based on the age of the child. Studies have shown the effects of TV violence are greatest at an early age. It seems that the type of violence seen can also result in different responses. Violence which is not seen as evil or does not result in punishment, disapproval or human suffering appears to be that which is the most likely to result in aggressive behavior in children.
Find more information on this topic below.
The Effects of Media Violence on Children
Get a taste of what the research and various professional organizations have to say about the effects of TV violence on kids.
- The Influence of Media Violence on Youth
The findings of a study published in December 2003 regarding the effects of TV violence with an extensive listing of sources.
- Public Health Agency of Canada
A discussion of the effect of media violence and a number of recommendations for parents.
- Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General
A report covering effects of media violence, research findings, and preventative efforts.
Video Games: The Potential for Good or Harm
Other Sources of Media Violence
The violence and other inappropriate content present in television shows are sometimes easy to spot. From fist fighting and arguing to shooting and other criminal activity, it is clear that much of prime-time TV is filled with such images. Cop shows, dramas, and reality TV don't sneak by the watchful eye of most parents.
But how about other sources of media violence? The rioting, war coverage, and crime stories on the news. The violence present in many cartoons. How about the unrealistic violence in a WWF fight or a brawl in hockey? Some sporting events don't really provide the kinds of role models children need. Then, of course, there is the unabated violence in some forms of music and in video games.
For parents who wish to limit exposure, all media really needs to be evaluated.
What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Children From Media Violence?
Parents can do a number of things but primarily they can limit their child's exposure to violence on television by monitoring and restricting what they watch through parental controls/rules and exposing them to better programming.
Set time limits
- Kids under 18-24 months can avoid TV altogether.
- For kids aged 18 months to 5 years, perhaps start with an hour a day with parental involvement before increasing to 2 hours a day maximum.
- School-age kids can have a limit set by their parents. Viewing time limits should include all screen time; internet and TV.
Set limits on content
Parents should know what young children watch. They can block programs they don't want their child to view or, for the very young, restrict viewing to pre-recorded content they have approved. In other words, replace the violent content you don't want, with content that you feel is more appropriate entertainment or education.
Of course, diligent parents should also consider how to put limits on content access on other devices a child may access, such as a phone if it has internet access or a tablet, computer, or laptop. Cellular providers offer parental controls and there is also software/apps available to give parents some of the tools they need.
Participate and educate
Parents should start by watching TV with their children to discuss and help interpret what they are seeing rather than leaving television and children left unmonitored. Be sure kids recognize violence and can begin to analyze the real world consequences for it. Then, help them begin to find alternate ways of handling situations.
Be sure to teach kids the right way to handle conflict
From an early age talking about things that make kids angry or frustrated is important. Helping them to determine how to deal with those feelings and later how to deal with conflict will be key. Kids learn from what they see. They see how parents deal with conflict, they see how actors deal with conflict, and so forth. Educating them regarding the most effective way of dealing with issues and practicing it is the best defense against the violence they see on TV.
Find out the specific recommendations by reading further.
Countering the Effects of Media Violence
Learn how to reduce exposure to media violence and make a child's viewing time a better and more educational experience.
- Resolving conflict | kidsmatter.edu.au
KidsMatter was developed by mental health professionals and education and childcare staff in response to the high rates of school-age children with mental health difficulties and the problems they face getting help. It is is a partnership between edu
- What Parents Can Do about Media Violence | Center for Media Literacy
Get recommendations on how to actively combat the effects of media violence.
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
Tips for parents and teachers in talking to children about school violence and safety
Although we might want media to reduce violence, the most effective thing to do is take your own action. Parents can limit TV viewing time, restrict what programming is viewed, watch TV with their kids and discuss it, and set a good example themselves. Letters to studios can be useful as well.
Parental Controls for Television
Most televisions now have a V-chip which allows parents to block programming based on ratings. With a V-chip, pairing television and children is a bit safer. Parents can learn more about the V-chip by browsing this FCC site.
In addition, most services offer parental controls to allow users to restrict viewing. For example, Dish Network satellite receivers offer parental controls/system locks that restrict what programs can be viewed based on password protected locks. Restrictions can be set up by channel or by ratings. The software operates in conjunction with V-Chip technology and parents simply program the system to restrict access to certain shows. For even greater protection, Dish's "Adult Guard" software can even completely remove Adult Channels from the Electronic Program Guide.
Battling Television Violence by Selecting the Best Kids TV Shows
Obviously, television violence is minimal or absent in some programming. In fact, there is some great programming for kids out there. Much of it's entertaining and educational. Most services offer programming such as Discovery Kids, the various Disney Channels, Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, and other award-winning shows such as BabyFirst TV.
Certainly, there is also the option of many of the classic TV shows available on select channels. Shows such as Leave It To Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show and others often provide great entertainment but offer the added benefit of a great lesson for character development.
For help in finding some of the best that is out there, check out the links below.
Best Kids Shows
Non-Violent Video Games
Looking for video games with non-violent content? Here are some recommendations.
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Ruth Coffee