Most parents I know worry about how much television their children are watching, but I see very little being done about actually cutting down their children's television time. The average child watches three to four hours of T. V. a day and another two and a half hours more on the television watching movies or playing video games, for a total of six and a half hours of television a day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a little more than half of our children have a T. V. in their bedrooms, and three- quarters of children eat their dinner in front of the television. All of this television is taking time away from our children's lives, which could be replaced with more crucial and beneficial activities such as reading, exercising, and playing with friends. Instead, our children are seeing the wrong messages from the programs they are watching, including, sex, violence, drugs, racism, war, bad language, and even suicide, that sometimes carry into their every- day lives. Our children are seeing all these adult images before they should.
There are many different avenues in television programming that demonstrates violence to our children. As a child I remember how I feared the killer patrolling the streets with his razor-sharp knife or fingers waiting to pierce my body. I would have never had this fear without the blood and gore of horror films that were shown on late- night television. These movies almost always showed a weak plot based on violent actions, and in the end there never showed the perpetrator as being punished, leading some children to believe that violence can be accomplished without a consequence. Another passageway to violence is through what has been called "professional" wrestling. The WWF is a terrible way that instills violence into our children. This semi- reality show has turned our children into body- slamming idiots, having no understanding that these actions they see on television do hurt people. This display of violence on this show illustrates to children that no harm and no pain comes even after you body slam you little sister onto the floor, but there has been many times were our children have learned the hard lesson that violence they have seen on T.V. does hurt. Our children do not have to be watching such extreme television shows to get violence instilled into them. The "harmless" cartoons that they watch daily are doing the same thing. From the very beginning of TV cartoons there has been violence. Bugs Bunny, While E. Coyote, and Yosemite Sam, all had very violent tendencies that showed the use of hand- guns, showed no harm and no pain, the character usually went unpunished, and they never showed non- violent alternatives. This continues through most cartoons today.
One source of turbulence in a child's life is what they see on the news each day. Since the tragedies of September 11, 2001 many parents have been worried about what their children are seeing on the news each day. The news these days are filled with graphic scenes of war and violence in the Middle East. According to a report put out in January of 2002, by the American Academy of Child and Adolescence Psychiatry, it is reported that even though there is a decrease in crime, the reporting of crime on the news has increased by 240%. All these graphic images can make a child feel uneasy about their own safety; in some children it can increase aggression and violent behaviors, and can desensitize children to violence. While I believe it is important for a child to understand what is going on in the world, we must also protect them from these images. There are many ways to help our children through this. One is to talk to our children about what they have seen and heard, another is to make sure that we limit the time they spend watching the news. It is important that if a natural disaster happens, that we do not allow our child to watch it over and over, as many of us did when the twin towers disasters happened....
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