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Television Viewing And Anger Management

Updated on April 26, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

A floor console TV of the 1960s.
A floor console TV of the 1960s. | Source

Anger Management May Be Needed Against Television

During the course of fifteen eventful years of working as a counselor and teacher with adult education populations and at-risk youth in education and workforce development programs, I observed several individuals referred to anger management programs.

Sometimes this was by court order. Unfortunately, not much progress was made as a result of attendance in such classes or training at that time and it was not long ago that this occurred. I do not believe that all anger management programs are failures, but I hold out hope that other, effective programs have developed and are working.

One of the phenomena I observe in some parts of society and certainly on television and in many movies is a lack of thought, manners, and/or respect. Not only is language deteriorating in some places, but behaviors are increasingly angry and violent.

TV 24/7/365 (public domain)
TV 24/7/365 (public domain)

In the 1990s TV show Max Headroom, America was a country in which it was illegal not to have your TV on 24/7. TVs were on every street corner, blasting propaganda, negative commentary, and disruptive events.

Anger In The World

People have plenty to be angry about, considering lack of good jobs, employment outsourcing, an uproar about immigration, the War in Iraq, Social Security issues, health care, competition everywhere among everyone, and plenty more.

I think one of the interesting things about all this is that we cannot get away from the turmoil unless we turn off the media for a while and take the time to be alone every day.

In the 1990s TV show Max Headroom, America was a country in which it was illegal not to have your TV on 24/7. TVs were on every street corner, blasting propaganda, negative commentary, and disruptive events.

We almost have that situation today, voluntarily. High speed Internet access stays active 24/7 and cable and satellite TV is always available, even on your cell phone. It's a good thing, but not everyone can handle it well. I feel that we need to take a break everyday to digest the information overload.

Kasier Family Foundation Report: Generation M: Media Among Ages 8-18: Today’s (2005) young people live media-saturated lives. They spend nearly 6½ hours per day (6:21) using media, during which time they are exposed to more than 8½ hours per day (8:33) of media messages, a result of the fact that a quarter of the time (26%) that kids use media, they use two or more media simultaneously (e.g., reading while watching TV; a phenomenon we call media multitasking).

— Kasier Family Foundation

The Spread Of TV Shows

America is becoming overcrowded and we need to remember the 20th century psychology experiment in which rats were put into a box until an overpopulation threshold was reached.

Once there were too many rats, the stress of over population resulted in rats beginning to 1) attack and/or kill one another, 2) self-mutilate, or 3) withdraw and/or groom themselves.

I think we are seeing some of this in American society.

Unfortunately some individuals may think that they can do anything and say anything and it affects nobody, but that is not the case. This is reinforced by television in some shows.

Television was a magnificent invention in the 1930s and 1940s, with few people realizing that it even existed. Game shows of the 1940s helped it to become popular. As it spread and came into its own strength in the 1950s, television broadcasts brought the far corners of the world closer together with a faster distribution of information. Now perhaps we have too much, too often.

However, as early as the 1960s, doctors and social groups began pointing out the adverse effects of television viewing and have continued to oppose linger-term TV viewing to this day.

Television Regulars Of The 1960s

Popular TV heroes of the 1950s and 1960s.
Popular TV heroes of the 1950s and 1960s. | Source

Not only is language deteriorating in some places, but behaviors are increasingly angry and violent.

The Effects Of Television Viewing

Medical professionals state that one negative physical effect of excessive TV viewing is eye-strain. This can be irritating emotionally as well as physically. You can't get your work done on the PC or the program watched on TV if your eyes are functioning well enough.

A viewer should be about 5 m away from a TV set (for large screen, I don't know), the surrounding room should be adequately lighted, and the TV should be placed at the same height as our eyes, just as with a PC screen. These precautions do not, however, prevent eye-strain if someone watches TV or uses a computer 8 hours straight without a break of any kind.

A second effect of prolonged TV viewing is obesity, which doctors report seeing in individuals that watch TV and eat at the some time as well as those that sit and don't exercise enough. TV seems to have become addictive and so have its TV food - cookies, chips, and many other finger foods and sugary beverages.

Obesity can lead to teasing by others, resulting in prejudice, bullying, resentment by the obese and perhaps arguing and violence later on.

Physicians and psychologists also warn us that TV can cause psychological malfunctions. The exposure to violence on TV can lead children to become more aggressive and violent. Having viewed thousands of instances of violence on TV, youth begin to perpetuate their own violence.

Losing sensitivity to the effects of violence by a prolonged exposure to it, violence no longer bothers many children, so they see nothing wrong with doing it.

The American Psychological Association announced in the mid-2010s that it found no harmful long-term effects of television viewing on children and youth, but a cohort within the organization adamantly maintains that it sees significant effects.

Children and television viewing - too much?
Children and television viewing - too much? | Source

Effects of Increasing TV Viewing

As TV viewing increases, the interpersonal communications of children and adults can decrease. Parents may use TV as a babysitter. An insensitivity to the suffering of others results in some individuals becoming more and more alienated emotionally.

Many working individuals come home after work and sit in front of the TV alone or with their family or children. These families watch TV instead of talking. TV is an escape from one other, even if they are all in the same room. This habit can become deeply ingrained and prevent children from learning adequate social skills and forming healthy relationships as an adult.

With TV viewing available over the Internet, a child (some places) can pick up homework from the school Internet site, do it online while watching TV in another window, eat in front of the screen, and never interact with another physical person form the time they reach home after school until they get up the next morning and return to school. If they are home schooled using an online curriculum, they may become even more isolated. However, many home school groups exist for recreation and field trips, so that help.

This all being said, I believe that TV can be limited and used for education and short periods of entertainment without physical and psychological effects. In the case of children, appropriate parental training, guidance, and control in young children can help establish healthy viewing habits and prevent psychical and psychological damages from over viewing.

Popular Shows 1950 - 1980s

Click thumbnail to view full-size
M.A.S.H. - Korean WarClayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Western.Gunsmoke - Western, lots of guns and conflicts.William Shatner and Julie Newmar in Star Trek: TOS; 1966 - 1969. The Mary Tyler Moore Show - "You're Gonna Make It After All!" (as if women never could support themselves).The Addams Family - Comedy HorrorThe Carol Burnett Show - Comedy
M.A.S.H. - Korean War
M.A.S.H. - Korean War | Source
Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Western.
Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Western.
Gunsmoke - Western, lots of guns and conflicts.
Gunsmoke - Western, lots of guns and conflicts.
William Shatner and Julie Newmar in Star Trek: TOS; 1966 - 1969.
William Shatner and Julie Newmar in Star Trek: TOS; 1966 - 1969. | Source
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - "You're Gonna Make It After All!" (as if women never could support themselves).
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - "You're Gonna Make It After All!" (as if women never could support themselves). | Source
The Addams Family - Comedy Horror
The Addams Family - Comedy Horror | Source
The Carol Burnett Show - Comedy
The Carol Burnett Show - Comedy | Source

The Role Of Television In Daily Life

In another issue, some of the research literature indicates that TV consistently reinforces gender-role and racial stereotypes. Reinforcing these may cause viewers that are not aware that these are false stereotypes to go out into the real world and expect to be able to treat other races and genders in these same inappropriate ways.

This in itself may lead to anger and violence. Further, watching one's own race or gender being mistreated on TV can lead to resentment and anger, even possible violence for some individuals.

I believe that whatever communications enter the eyes and ears long enough are going to come back out somewhere. Further, a person may only be able to tolerate a certain threshold of misrepresentation on TV of ones race, gender, disability, etc, and ultimately "explode" in anger.

There are other aspects to anger and violence, but to help matter somewhat I suggest this:

  • 1) Take time alone every day for yourself. This can be to meditate, pray, listen to beautiful music, or just to do nothing. The central nervous system cannot stand constant over stimulation. Sleeping is not always the answer; the body and mind need awake quiet time
  • 2) Don't turn the TV on just out of habit and have it playing all the time, even when you are not in the room. Turn it off sometimes.
  • 3) Look at what types of programming you are viewing and perhaps cut out a few shows that may be overly violent or stereotypical. The same can be said for video games and movies. Do the same for your children if you have them.
  • 4) Exercise a little more. Exercise can clean out toxins as well as built up stress and over stimulation that we might not even feel or know about.
  • 5) Have some friends. Talk to them and have fun with them. Laugh.

These tips may not eliminate the need for anger management programs and classes, but they can help some individuals avoid the need and help other get a god start to a more manageable level and expression of anger.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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