Too 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 child’s 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?

  1. Be a positive example and use good judgment concerning the selection of television programs and movies to be viewed. Consider the child’s 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Resist the temptation to put a television in your child’s room. Instead locate it where viewing can be monitored. If your family is on the internet, keep the computer in a central location.

  5. 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 child’s 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 groups.

  6. 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."

Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website []

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