Ever since T.V. became popular in the early 1950s, it has been in the living rooms- and minds- of people around the world, and still remains a major part of daily life. Many people believe television is just "harmless entertainment." Yet, violence, sexuality, race and gender stereotypes are common and popular themes of television programs, not to mention the numerous advertisements for food, alcohol, and items like clothes, gadgets, and toys. These themes affect people's behaviors and attitudes towards themselves and others- ultimately effecting society.
Television viewing is a major activity and therefore has a massive influence on all its viewers- children and adolescents especially. Children in the United States watch an average of four hours of television a day. By the time of high school graduation, they will have spent more time watching television than they have in the classroom. Time spent watching television takes away from important activities such as reading, school work, playing, exercise, family interaction, and social development. Just how big a presence is TV in kids' lives? TV viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. On average, children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, DVR and videos, and using a game console. Kids ages 6-11 spend about 28 hours a week in front of the TV 41 percent of TV-viewing is now online, time-shifted, or mobile, making its influence even more prevalent and accessible for anytime, anywhere.
Young children are impressionable and may assume that what they see on television is typical, safe, and acceptable. As a result, television also exposes children to behaviors and attitudes that may be overwhelming and difficult to understand. TV molds a child's personality to influence what to think, how to act, and who to be; and when it has such a large presence in a child's life, as the statistics show, children will begin to mimic what they see on television. They imitate the violence they see on TV. Children under age eight cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy, making them more vulnerable to learning the violence they see on TV as reality. The consequences of human suffering and loss are rarely depicted, which teaches kids violence, but not the realistic problems and consequences that go along with it. Most violent acts go unpunished on TV and are often accompanied by humor. This is apparent even in T.V. characters of previous generations like Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Roadrunner & Coyote, and the Three Stooges. These shows were violent, but funny. Who does not laugh at the classic piano falling on people's heads? This material unintentionally caused kids to become violent because they thought it was acceptable. After all, Larry, Moe, and Curly did it and nothing bad ever happened. Yet this violence has only worsened in both content and prevalence over time. Two-thirds of all programming contains violence - even programs targeted for young kids. Every single U.S. animated feature film produced between 1937 and 1999 contained some form of physical violence. Literally thousands of studies since the 1950s have asked whether there is a link between exposure to media violence and violent behavior. All but 18 or these thousands of studies have answered, "Yes." The evidence from the research is overwhelming. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed." Watching violent shows is also linked with having less empathy toward others. An average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by age 18. It has been found that repeated exposure to TV violence makes children less sensitive toward its effects on victims and the human suffering it causes. Viewing TV violence reduces inhibitions and leads to more aggressive behavior. Violence on TV...
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