Video Violence: Assessing and Curbing the Effects Research Paper

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Video Violence: Assessing and Curbing the Effects of Television

Violence within Youth Programming in the United States of America

In today's day and age, technology has become a cornerstone of the American existence. With each passing day, new and improved technological devices turnover in order to bring the outside world into the individual American home, but the television has remained unaffected. The television and its programming have remained a constant yet changing staple in the country that brings with it an unparalleled ability to shape its watchers, with the most affected being the children and youth of America. While so many individuals immediately connect the phrase "children's programming" to harmless programs like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the truth remains that along with this wholesome educational programming, violence has also become a constant in many of the television programs geared toward children today. In viewing the research that is available on the topic of violence in television geared towards children and youths, a question of how such violent programming affects the minds and actions of the country's children must be addressed as well as: "how much is too much," when it comes to violence on TV.

Violence on television is nothing new, but violence in children's programming is a more recent phenomenon that has become increasingly more questionable. Recent studies estimate that children watch "an average of four hours of TV each day," says Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, who also notes that children really do "learn about violence and how to commit violence from watching TV" (Keer, 1). Violence in TV shows dates back to early episode of Loony Toons in which cartoon characters drop anvils on each other, tote guns, engage in fights that are so intense that characters are trapped behind swirling clouds of dust with the ever-present stars and swirls indicating that one of the fighters is injured and done for. Such examples of violence in cartoons like the Loony Toons predates the intensity of violence in contemporary shows like Spongebob Squarepants, within which the same classic cartoon violence ensues while the characters laugh hysterically, and in watching this behavior laughed at and constantly exemplified, children begin to believe that such behavior is okay in their everyday lives.

The appeal of the "cartoon" has also made its way into adult programming, but children, upon seeing the brightly-drawn characters, are unable to differentiate and are thus sucked into watching shows that depict even more escalated violence (The Simpsons) up to gratuitous and graphic violence and even death (South Park). And cartoons are not the only place that children and youth are fed violence from programming. Shows such as Power Rangers have utilized weapons, martial arts, hand-to-hand combat and elaborate plots to defeat the "bad guy," but after a while, the violence overshadows the plot and all children see is the endless parade of fighting and explosions. While many parents and adults may think that such "mindless" television would be ignored by children, the truth is that kids are learning from these shows, and they are getting angrier by the second.

In understanding this type of violence, children's responses to such a stimulus are vast and varied. A recent study found that watching an increased amount of violent television increases a child's "desensitization to violence" as family doctor and researcher Wayne Warburton discovered, noting: "Violence on TV includes increases in the likelihood of aggressive behavior, increases in desensitization to violence and an overall view that the world is more scary and hostile than it really is" ("Watching Violence" 1). By taking in more and more of this programming, children begin to view individuals in their own respective lives as villains who are capable of being stopped with physical force. This notion ultimately transforms into the idea that anything unwarranted or disliked in a child's own life can be subdued or put to a stop with violence.

This change in behavior, as noted by the Parents' Television Council, become increasingly more apparent to individuals who observe a child who has watched violent television in everyday life; "In addition to physical changes," the…

Sources Used in Document:

Bibliography

Hesmann, L.R. et al. "Early Exposure to TV Violence Predicts Aggression in Adulthood."

Developmental Psychology, 39(1): pp. 201-221.

Keer, Gregory. "The Effects of Seeing TV Violence." Parenthood. 2010. Web. 8 November

2012. http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/the_effects_of_seeing_tv_violence.html.

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