Children are vulnerable and easily swayed by everything around them. Parents try to do everything in their power to protect their children from unhealthy environments. They child-proof everything, but they dont realize that thousands of strangers enter the home everyday…through the television. Television is in 98% of North American homes and the average Canadian child watches four hours of television every day. Most parents do not realize that their children are watching violence-ridden television programs and that by the age of 18 the average North American child will have viewed over 200,000 acts of television violence. Children should not be allowed to watch violent television programs because children are easily desensitized to violence, they are unable to distinguish reality and fantasy and they copy what they see on television.
Children are very impressionable and are easily desensitized to the violence they see on television. Research has shown that young children are aroused by aggressive scenes on television and show higher levels of emotion when watching aggressive programs than when watching passive programs. The arousal diminishes with repeated exposure to television and the violence no longer affects children. When people are no longer aroused by violence they become less responsive to human suffering and may not be as quick to help or may not intervene during an emergency. When there is a problem, arousal levels are high and quick action is taken but when arousal levels do no increase then people are not as concerned about the problem and may not jump in to solve it. Because society is becoming more aggressive, there will be more violent sociatal situations and if people do not take swift action and help because they are desenstiaed to the violence, many lives could be lost.
Young children have trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy. They cannot make objective evaluations, cannot form logical conclusions and cannot sort out relevant data about the things they see on television. They dont understand the difference between what is possible and what is actually probable. If a young child see someone on TV jumping off a mountain and landing on their feet, they believe that it is real becausw they saw it happen with their own eyes and do not have the capacity to believe otherwise. Children do not develop the capacity to distinguish reality and fantasy until their pre-school years and the distinction is not completely in place until the child is eight or nine years old.
Children believe that what they see on television is real and they sometimes copy it. When children see acts of violence that go unpunished, they believe that the violent act is accepted in society and learn to imitate it. The movie “The Kindergarten Cop” is an example of a violent act that goes unpunished. In the movie which was gearded toward children, Arnold Schwarzenegger assults a child molester. He is then called into the principals office, expecting to get in trouble for fighting in front of the children he teaches. Instead, after a dramatic pause, the principal asks “How did it feel to punch out that son of a bitch?” Schwarzenegger is congratulated for his violent actions. If children see examples of unpunished violence like in “Kindergarten Cop,” they will believe that all violence is accepted and imitate it. One example, where children copied what they saw on television happened in 1958 when two boy were caught after they had commited a professional burglary by forcing the skylight. When questioned by the judge, the boys admitted that they had learned the method by watching a robbery commited on a television show. The only difference, they said, was that the burglers on the show didnt get caught. If television continues to show violence that is not penalized, then children will continue to copy what they have seen on TV.
Parents who do not want their children copying the violence they see should be vigilant in monitoring the amount of TV their children are watching in addition to the type of programs. In the formative years, they should also explain to their children the difference between “pretend” and “reality.” For example, if the child sees someone getting shot on a TV program, the parent