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Television and Children

Updated on August 19, 2014

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 on this page.

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 it's 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 agressive 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.

Learn More About the Effects of Media Violence and How to Deal With It

What Are Your Children Learning From Television?

Other Sources of Media Violence

The violence and other inappropriate content present in television shows is 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 videogames.

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 providing better programming Watch with their children to discuss and help interpret what they are seeing rather than leaving television and children left unmonitored.Find out the specific recommendations of experts below.

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.

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

Televisions over 13-inches in size 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.

Here are some reference pages for other providers:





Time Warner




Battling Television Violence by Selecting the Best Kids TV Shows

Obvsiously, 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.

Non Violent Video Games

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

What Do You Say?

Does Violence on Television Influence Kids?

Yes, Something Has to Explain All of This Violence!

Yes, Something Has to Explain All of This Violence!

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I always see to it that our daughter watches friendly, feel good movie at the same time teaching her the difference between real life and TV or movie plot. I would love to see her grow up in wisdom and knowing what's good and bad films to watch.

    • hayleylou lm 6 years ago

      Definitely, I monitor very closely what my children watch

    • koukou0729 6 years ago

      Barbie Dress Up Games is just for child

    • cnkjz123456 6 years ago

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

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      definitely yes. children imitate the things they usually see especially on TV.

    • Surreymagic 7 years ago

      I think it's fair to say that TV violence has some influence on kids- especially kids who have trouble discerning reality and fantasy. Though I think that peer pressure has a greater effect.

    • dulyah 7 years ago

      Many thanks. This is very useful article.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I think violence on television can have an adverse affect on some kids but not others, problem is knowing which ones will be affected in a negative way, so really you have to remove the risk.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      yes, child's mind is very soft, which can be affected by any kind of unusual event. They may be scared or they can even learn ways to commit violence in future.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      some programs have great influence on children and most of it are bad influence, just like killing movies.

    • Vacation-In-My-Head 8 years ago

      I absolutely think that it does. Kids mimic what they see that is part of how they learn. Whether good or bad kids act out what they see.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      I try and avoid exposing my kids to violent programmes; they mostly watch channels that have programmes for young children and are educational as well as entertaining.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      I cannot count the number of times I have seen little children see a cartoon act of violence and then turn around and do the same exact thing to the kid sitting next to them. It might not be with the intent to hurt but remember the old saying, 'Monkey see, Monkey do.'

    • VBright 8 years ago

      I certainly think to some degree it does. Little children think television is a "window to the world" because they don't know it's all made up.

    • Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      It has to affect kids to some extent. Instead, nurture their imaginations with great books and creative play.

    • anonymous 9 years ago

      Absolutely it does!!! Children learn by what they see & time & time again I have to teach appropriate play skills to children as all they know is to fight each other as they reinact the latest scene they watched on TV. Bring back Noddy!!

    • GrowWear 9 years ago

      Why would a parent who is molding a young mind even consider subjecting that -- still-growing and becoming -- mind to the violence, depravity, and perversion out there that is disguised as entertainment?

    • Mom-on-a-Mission 9 years ago

      The more negative messages and images children (and adults, too) see in the media, the more negative behaviors we seem to see in the world. I can't help but believe that if the media didn't spend so much time putting these 'bad behaviors' in the spotlight, we wouldn't see so many. It's human nature to want attention, and if the easiest way to get it is negative, that's what they'll do. What ever happened to 'positive attention'? The media needs to spend more time spotlighting the 'good stuff'. Watch less cable TV and more public TV. Detroit Public Television!! PBS!! Entertain, Inform, Inspire....GOOD STUFF!

    • Moe Wood 9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I don't think it's just the violence. It's the advertising and sex as well. I was actually one of those kids who was babysat by the tv and literally watched whatever I wanted. I was seven years old when I watched the exorcist. While I obviously can't blame all my emotional problems on television (or my mother) I think it has made a major impact on my life. The best times were when I was outside with the neighbourhood kids.

    • Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      Not only violence but also the lack of good programing. Let's take the kids outside instead.

    • Flashfink 9 years ago

      I know that I was affected (in some ways permanently) by the TV I watched when I was a kid.

    • StacymomBiz 9 years ago

      Yes I believe violence on TV influences kids, everything on TV influences all of us. It's up to us parents to influence them more. We cannot depend on the FCC or anyone else to teach our children right from wrong. After all, it's our responsability as parents.

    Nope! You Crack Me Up; I Lived Through It and So Can My Kids. Kids Are Smarter Than You Give Them Credit For!

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      • Guided Abundance 5 years ago from Mobile, AL

        No! The environment they grow up in and the personal relationships of the parents would be a closer reflection of what's to come in the personality and influences the children will draw from.

      • AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

        I think violence on television is more likely to influence people who are falling through the cracks in our society but, even then, I believe there is a limit as to what these citizens would do. I don't think the average person is going to shoot someone when angry just because a TV character did.

        I think I would be much more fearful of a society of children who were not exposed to the realities of life and had to venture out on their own. Sometimes it's better to let them see a taste of what they will discover on their own later in life. After all, if children grow with every program censored and don't know that violence exists, imagine how scared they would feel to hear of someone being shot a few houses down the street. It's better, I feel, to let them get that taste of reality and prepare them by educating them as to make informed, and safe, decisions.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Fucking shit

      • tropicalmonsoon1 6 years ago

        No, not if its just for entertainment value, to add effects to a TV program.

      • Oliversbabycarecouk 6 years ago

        i dont believe it is, but the age restrictions are there for a reason!

      • Sonaprint 7 years ago

        I loved watching the Alfred Hitchcock movies. I turned out OK. Yes Monitor them and they will be fine.

      • Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

        I am on the fence about this. I think that it comes down to parents being responsible for what their children watch, and knowing what to restrict. Cartoons have always been violent. Have you watched the old Looney tunes?

      • anonymous 9 years ago

        Some media, but not all violent media is influential.

      • Bobby_Billiards 9 years ago

        I don't know. I think a lot of factors go into it. I watched a lot of tv when I was younger. But at the same time my viewing was monitored. And I always kind of understood how what I was watching wasn't real (I guess the fact that my father used to be a camera man and worked in theater kind of helped with that). I think what it comes down to most is what the parents teach the kids. Plus I think letting kids watch tv helps them socialize with other kids, they have a common interest whether it's in a favorite tv show, or even favorite commercial to talk about.

      Introduction Photo Credit: aaronyx

      Effects of Television Violence on Children Photo Credit: debaird

      Best Kids TV Shows Photo Credit: pfly

      Other Sources of Media Violence Photo Credit: dan4th

      What Can Parents Do to Protect Their Children from Media Violence Photo Credit: orangeacid.

      Parental Controls Photo Credit: frenkieb.

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

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          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.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

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

        • newbizmau profile image

          Guided Abundance 5 years ago from Mobile, AL

          A great topic.

        • profile image

          cafmike 6 years ago

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

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

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

        • hayleylou lm profile image

          hayleylou lm 6 years ago

          Great lens with good solid information for parents :)

        • profile image

          Oliversbabycarecouk 6 years ago

          great lens on a good topic. nice

        • profile image

          scar4 6 years ago

          Inspirational, thumbs up!

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          cnkjz123456 6 years ago

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

        • profile image

          totalhealth 7 years ago

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

        • Surreymagic profile image

          Surreymagic 7 years ago

          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.

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          MarbleousBehavior 7 years ago

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

        • profile image

          MarbleousBehavior 7 years ago

          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!

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          anonymous 7 years ago

          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.

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          Levitah 7 years ago

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

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          dulyah 7 years ago

          Many thanks. This is very useful article.

        • BrianRS profile image

          Brian Stephens 7 years ago from France

          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 profile image

          Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

          Another wonderful lens! Blessings!

        • blue22d profile image

          blue22d 8 years ago

          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

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          SuzieSmiles 8 years ago

          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:)

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          religions7 8 years ago

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

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          Vacation-In-My-Head 8 years ago

          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!!

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          Tarra99 8 years ago

          Excellent, informative, 5* lens!

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

        • SherryHolderHunt profile image

          SherryHolderHunt 8 years ago

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

        • OhMe profile image

          Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

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

        • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

          ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

          Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group.


        • jimmielanley profile image

          Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

          You're officially blessed!

          This message must be heard.

        • profile image

          anonymous 8 years ago

          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!


          Everything You Need to Know About Attachment Parenting.

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          Number1Athlete 8 years ago

          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 profile image

          Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

          Very important issue. Great Lens.

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          Patricia 8 years ago

          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 profile image

          VBright 8 years ago

          Excellent lens! You got 5* from me.

        • profile image

          anonymous 8 years ago

          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!


          Everything You Need to Know About Attachment Parenting.

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          Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

          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.

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          JAV010 8 years ago

          Ratatouille is one of my favourite childrens movies thanks :)

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          JosephWilliam 8 years ago

          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.

        • Mihaela Vrban profile image

          Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

          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.

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          JosephWilliam 9 years ago

          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:

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          Debbie 9 years ago from England

          Thank you for joining the Emotional Wellbeing Group :)

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          anonymous 9 years ago

          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 :(

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          anonymous 9 years ago

          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.

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          enslavedbyfaeries 9 years ago

          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.

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          petbrags 9 years ago

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

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          JAV010 9 years ago

          5 stars good lens !

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          Bobby_Billiards 9 years ago

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

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          Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

          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!

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          Susan Deppner 9 years ago from Arkansas USA

          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!

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          TriviaChamp 9 years ago

          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.


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          StacymomBiz 9 years ago

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