- Family and Parenting
Television 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 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.
- 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 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 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
- 18 months to 5 years perhaps starting at an hour a day with parental
involvement then increasing to 2 hours per 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
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.
Best Kids Shows
Non Violent Video Games
Looking for video games with non-violent content? Here are some recommnedations.
- Nonviolent Video Games
Common Sense Media editors help you choose Nonviolent Video Games. Fun games where violence is not an issue.
© 2008 Ruth Coffee