Violence in the entertainment world is harmless right? It is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, fake blood and special effects, but harmless in real life.
You would think so, but some people think that’s far from the case. In fact, studies as far back as the 1960s have suggested that violence in TV and movies can be harmful for children to watch.
In a day and age where acts of violence and terrible tragedy are almost not even shocking anymore, can we really turn a blind eye to any purported causes of this normalization of violence?
According to a study done by the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, young people see an estimated number of 10,000 violent acts on TV annually.
Anything a child, or anyone, sees over 10,000 times a year, they are going to be desensitized to. The study outlines the issues in violent shows that children are watching, issues such as when the “hero” commits violent acts or when portrayed violence usually goes unpunished.
The study stated, “When children see violence without remorse, criticism or punishment they learn that doing bad things is okay – there are no consequences. But that is not true in the real world.”
When kids see that the good guy superheros are blasting bad guys left and right, each coming out unscathed, it can deceive children into thinking violent actions do not end too badly.
On the other hand, violent TV and video games can also make children think the world is a dark and scary place and exaggerate mental illnesses. CNN quotes, “While playing video games can be a coping mechanism for a child who’s already experiencing depression or anxiety, the study’s authors suggest gaming can also increase those problems.”
If a child is watching or playing on the TV for three or more hours a day, they aren’t developing social skills or experiencing and learning to react to real life situations.
We accept that our children learn counting and the alphabet from shows like Sesame Street and even Spanish from shows like Dora the Explorer; how can anyone even say that a child’s impressionable young mind isn’t affected negatively by constantly watching exaggerated violence being glorified on TV shows and in blockbuster movies?
CNN reported, “‘90 percent of movies, 68% of video games, and 60% of TV shows show some depictions of violence,’” according to Caroline Knorr, parenting editor for Common Sense Media.
It is doubtful violence will ever completely leave the entertainment world–people like it just too much. Rather than call for the complete extermination of all violence in TV and movies, perhaps parents should choose to more closely monitor and discuss these programs their kids are watching.
Open discussion about the real-life consequences of the violent actions portrayed in TV shows and movies between parents and their children could be very beneficial.
Teaching children the difference between fantasy and reality seems to be a key feature in keeping children aware that TV violence has no place in real life and is a practice that will continue to be so very important in times like today, where violent attacks seem to be in the news every week.
Meridith King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org