.. vision may accept and tolerate aggressive behavior in others more, than children who were not exposed to violent programs on television. This may, however, have a negative impact on the children’s life because “the child may behave in a manner which is inappropriate in real life settings” (Ledingham et al., 1993: 8). Most violent television programs show us that “violence is a social relationship” (“Killing Screens,” 1994). Violence often tells us who can get away with it and who deserves to be the victim. For instance, for every twelve women involved in a violent act there are ten male aggressors and women are half the time more likely to be the victim than the aggressor in many violent television programs.
Also, minority women are twice as likely to become the victims than to become the aggressors (“Killing Screens,” 1994). Also, violent television programs often portray “members of racial minorities as less powerful and poorer than the majority” (Greenfield, 1984: 43). Thus, children from various minority groups, such as female children, black children, or Hispanic children, may grow-up feeling more controllable by the majority of people in the society (often white men). They also may grow-up more cultivated to accept their second place in society, as it has been portrayed on violent television programs (“Killing Screens,” 1994). This portrayal of minorities as powerless and poor may also affect the children and adults of minority groups as becoming the victims of racism, which may often result in violence, inability to have a job, or other negative aspects racism may bring upon people (Greenfield, 1984: 43). Other evidence suggests that repeated viewing of violent television programs can lead to “a mean world syndrome” (“Killing Screens,” 1994); a belief for many children and adults that the “world [is] a more dangerous place than it actually is because violence is more salient and frequent on television than it is in most life experiences” (Ledingham et al., 1993: 9). Thus, children and adults with fewer opportunities in society due to poverty, lack of education, health problems or other social aspects may end-up watching more television (Rosengren et al., 1994: 146).
As a result, these people may feel more likely to become the victims of violence, to feel more in danger, to feel more insecure in the real world. Thus, they will demand protection from people who tell them they will protect them, and whom they will trust (“Killing Screens,” 1994). Although there are many behavioral problems with children who watch excessive amounts of violence, television programs can also have a positive effect on children of all ages. For example, children who watched the television program called Sesame Street “gained in cultural pride, self-confidence, and interpersonal cooperation [and] white children .. developed more positive views toward children of other races” (Greenfield, 1984:43). This positive attitude in children towards each other, without the barriers of aggression or racism, was due to the fact that Sesame Street often “portrays characters from various minority groups in a positive, nonstereotyped way”(Greenfield, 1984: 42), and violence is often absent in such children’s programs.
As noted earlier, children often learn how to behave from what they see on television, and the impact of television violence may be evident immediately in the children’s behavior or it may surface later in life. However, parents can protect their children from excessive television violence in many ways. First, parents should pay attention to the programs their children are watching and they should also watch with them. This would give the parents a chance to spend some time with their children and a chance to explain that what they see on television is not real. Especially, a chance to point out that although the actor has not been actually hurt or killed such violence in real life will result in pain or even death (“Killing Screens,” 1994; Minow & LaMay, 1995: 161). Second, parents should set limits on the amount of time they spend watching television and also parents should challenge television’s power with other alternatives, such as reading or playing with friends. Reading would enable the children to use their own imagination, which is often oppressed by television.
Also, playing with friends may enable the child to practice his or her verbal communication, which is also oppressed by viewing excessive amount of television (Greenfield, 1984: 85-89). Third, parents should often disapprove of a violent program in front of their children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not the best way to solve a problem. Also, parents should refuse to let their children watch television programs known to be violent by changing the channel or turning the television set off, with the explanation of what is wrong with the program (Ledingham et al., 1993: 10-13). Fourth, parents should remember that they also are citizens, and together with other parents should demand the installation of a device called the v-chip into every television set. This v-chip is “a programmable computer chip that would allow parents lock out programs they deemed unsuitable for their children” (Minow & LaMay, 1995: 109-110).
Therefore, a v-chip in a television set will enable the parents to watch their own program without the fear of exposing their own children. Last, parents should demand critical thinking be taught in all schools. Children should be able to discuss with their teachers in school and parents at home what they see on television and in what manner the children perceive it. This type of education should be enhanced in every school in order to “encourage the children to watch critically and thoughtfully (Greenfield, 1984: 93-94). In conclusion, extensive viewing of violent television by children has the potential to cause greater aggressiveness. Children who view programs in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated, and unpunished are more likely to imitate what they see.
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