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Television Violence and Children

I worked with children throughout college. I have an MA in Speech-Language Pathology and am interested in kid-related issues.

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.

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.

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

  • PBS
    PBS is a trusted source for quality educational content for kids.
  • Parent Center
    Top picks by the Parent Center.
  • Common Sense Media
    Best Science Shows for Kids as rated by Common Sense Media. Provides links for other "best" lists too.

Non-Violent Video Games

Looking for video games with non-violent content? Here are some recommendations.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Ruth Coffee

Television and Children: Was This Page Helpful? Let Us Know!

anonymous on April 30, 2013:

I was brought to this sight by my college professor. She wanted the class to learn more about children and the affect that television violence has on them. Reading this page has given me a warehouse of great and useful information.

anonymous on February 29, 2012:

Telling your child it is not real it is just TV does not work. It is not the way Children think.

http://drbrilliantcliche.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/...

Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on February 07, 2012:

A great topic.

cafmike on June 03, 2011:

Wow and i thought my Club penguin Codes lens was awesome. This lens blows mine out of the water

anonymous on March 14, 2011:

Nice lens.good information for parents, tv violence that is harming children,Thanks for sharing. strategic planning software

hayleylou lm on February 14, 2011:

Great lens with good solid information for parents :)

Oliversbabycarecouk on February 12, 2011:

great lens on a good topic. nice

scar4 on January 05, 2011:

Inspirational, thumbs up!

cnkjz123456 on October 08, 2010:

Welcome to cooking games online! We have hundreds of cooking games to serve you,and we add new cooking games every day!

totalhealth on July 16, 2010:

Television is very influential specially for kids, parents should also monitor even cartoon shows because there are many cartoons that shows violence.

Surreymagic on July 13, 2010:

Television gets used as a nanny for kids far too much- though it's understandable when parents have so little time. I think it's vital that children are encouraged to become interested in hobbies that don't rely on computers or television because it's something that will enable them to produce instead of passively consuming.

MarbleousBehavior on May 10, 2010:

Yes! I've lensrolled your lens to further the "Is TV Bad" debate on my lens Using "Marbelous Behavior" to Limit Screen Time.

MarbleousBehavior on May 10, 2010:

The first time I read this lens, it inspired me to get started on my own! I'm lensrolling you to my

Is TV Bad? Lens!

anonymous on February 09, 2010:

I agree with Brian S., it isn't only television violence that is harming children, but other key factors come into play that are debilitating psychologically and physically their health. The parents are responsible for the well-being of their children and this requires discipline and control. Parental control is the key word. Parents are models for their children (if they like it or not). So, maybe it's time to put the remote down and take some action. Put a time restriction on the television.

P.S. I really thought the videos were very helpful.

Levitah on February 01, 2010:

Thank you for this wonderful lens 5*****

dulyah on January 30, 2010:

Many thanks. This is very useful article.

Brian Stephens from France on October 11, 2009:

Really good lens on a topic most people already know can be harmful to some kids.

I also think it is more than just violence, I have watched kids programs where the kids are demonstrating complete lack of respect for all authoritative figures, parents, teachers, policemen, you name it they are shown to be stupid or silly compared to the smart alec kids in these programs.

In some ways I think this is worse than violence because it erodes the society we live in and our basic standards of respect and decency can be devalued, often demonstrated by the way some young people treat the elderly as an example. Of course not all kids are bad or are influenced by these types of programs but there is always the potential for it.

Sorry about the essay.

Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on June 24, 2009:

Another wonderful lens! Blessings!

blue22d on June 23, 2009:

Excellent lens and I totally agree with you. I especially believe it starts with the parent. The parent must do the censoring. To retain are freedoms, I don't want to see censorship. Five stars and lens roll to my lens: generationborn2008

SuzieSmiles on May 31, 2009:

I enjoyed reading your lens. I loved Mister Rogers Neighborhood as a child and think it's one of the best programs for children to watch:)

religions7 on May 01, 2009:

Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

Vacation-In-My-Head on February 06, 2009:

This is a great topic for a lens. I really monitor what my daughter watches. She is pretty much limited to PBS and I will let her watch like Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. We even try to remember to turn the news off when she is in the room. She doesn't need to see all of the negativity and violence. 5*'s and Faved!!

Tarra99 on January 15, 2009:

Excellent, informative, 5* lens!

...p.s. thanks for visiting my recycling toothbrushes lens...I appreciate it!

SherryHolderHunt on December 30, 2008:

Excellent lens! Rolling it to my EZ Doodle for children. 5*s

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on November 17, 2008:

Even some of the cartoons these days are too violent. You did a great job on this lens.

ElizabethJeanAl on November 08, 2008:

Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

Lizzy

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on November 08, 2008:

You're officially blessed!

This message must be heard.

anonymous on October 11, 2008:

Want more traffic to your lens?

I would like to FEATURE your lens in my Parenting Group! Parenting on Squidoo. I'll even create a special category just for you. If you want to look at the group and make a feature suggestion as to why category would be good for your lens (one already there or a new one) that would be great!

Ashley

Everything You Need to Know About Attachment Parenting.

Number1Athlete on October 09, 2008:

Tv is going to ruin many upcoming minds in the next few generations...I think all parents need to be aware of what Tv can do.

Anyway interesting lens, 5* :)

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on October 06, 2008:

Very important issue. Great Lens.

Patricia on October 04, 2008:

Great topic and lens! I believe also there is too much on t.v. now days that is not to put into our kids or our subconsious.

VBright on October 04, 2008:

Excellent lens! You got 5* from me.

anonymous on September 14, 2008:

Want more traffic to your lens?

I would like to FEATURE your lens in my Parenting Group! Parenting on Squidoo. I'll even create a special category just for you!

Ashley

Everything You Need to Know About Attachment Parenting.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on August 27, 2008:

Thoughtful lens. I think it isn't just children who are affected by violence on TV. How many acts of violence have traced back to movies and television shows and copycats? Too many. Even adults lose track of what's real and what isn't.

JAV010 on August 25, 2008:

Ratatouille is one of my favourite childrens movies thanks :)

JosephWilliam on August 21, 2008:

Part of positive parenting is to assert controls over a child's exposure to negatives in the media. I agree totally with these articles. It's equally important to be a viable role model by exposing your child to positive and life enhancing media in which you partake. Just as it's been scientifically proven that we become most like our closest associates in terms of income, attitudes, and behaviors, we also internalize the messages we receive from our enviroment. Ads and violent TV programs, soap operas, reality TV (not the reality that I desire my kids to emulate), and many other influences have a negative impact. Let's be the person we want our child to be and encourage and direct our children into positive areas where they can best benefit and grow. http://www.childrenbehaviors.com/

Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on August 18, 2008:

Parents are responsible for TV choices of their kids. Unfortunately, more and more parents buy their kids TV only for kids room and let them watch what ever is on. It's easier than spending time with them.

JosephWilliam on August 17, 2008:

Media violence comes in many shapes and forms. Two of the most compelling these days are TV and video games. It's critical to expose our children to information and role models that we wish our child to emulate. Would we want our child to hang out with the characters depicted through such media. Of course not. So what's the difference with them watching TV and playing video games that display "models of insanity". Over time we take on the traits of the people we hand out with. Regardless whether or not these type of media programs contribute to violent behavior is not the point. We love our children unconditionally and want the best for them. And the best for them is to have their media exposure monitored, and replaced with positive alternatives that they have an interest. Have some positive parenting strategies on my blog: http://www.childrenbehaviors.com/

Debbie from England on July 28, 2008:

Thank you for joining the Emotional Wellbeing Group :)

anonymous on July 27, 2008:

Great lens. It's not only the vilonece, but the adult content too. In the UK, we have a 9pm watershed, so after 9pm, anything goes on TV. However, most kids over here have tv's in their rooms & parents leave them to 'settle' down by watching whatever they want. TV's are used too often as babysitters unfortunately :(

anonymous on July 21, 2008:

I don't agree. I think it is the parent's responsibility to monitor what their kids watch. I'm from the '90s, not so different from now, and my parents were clear in telling me what I couldn't watch. Many commercials nowadays emphasize going "above the influience" on some shows, and to "say no to drugs" on most pre-teen programming. However, hair commercials and mythful fantasy "wight loss" drinks are still around.

Most TV is easily controllable by parents, especially with modern TV control things like Tivo. Most kids in my neighboorhood have responisble parents, and despite the deranged "infortainment" media, this is not a rarity, and childhood agression is much lower than they would have you believe.

enslavedbyfaeries on June 24, 2008:

Very helpful lens! It seems so difficult to find anything appropriate for kids these days, mostly because even the commercials in between family shows are not appropriate for kids. Just when you think you're being safe by choosing a family show there is a 2 minute commercial about male enhancement.

petbrags on May 11, 2008:

Great lens, couldn't agree more. ~ 5 Stars!

JAV010 on May 03, 2008:

5 stars good lens !

Bobby_Billiards on April 23, 2008:

Very good lens. This is one of my favorite things to debate on.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on April 19, 2008:

The Tadpoles have been out in the rain looking for something new to do for Recess. Your great lens has given them some great ideas.

Favored and joined your club. 5 Stars!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on April 13, 2008:

I like your video choices for kids, and I really like the electronic devices to limit TV and video game time. Keeps the parents from having to be the "bad guys" all the time. Another terrific lens!

TriviaChamp on March 30, 2008:

Nice lens. It is probably impossible to shield our children from all the violence on television, but I believe it is important as a parent to try to keep it to a minimum.

~Jane

StacymomBiz on March 15, 2008:

5 Stars for this lens. Very informative and beautifully done! Great Job.

-Stacy

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