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Television is one of America's favorite pastimes. It has become almost second nature to turn the TV on because of the need for entertainment, the need to satisfy boredom, or merely for background noise. Many people even leave the TV on while they perform other household duties. Often, children are placed near a TV set while their parents or babysitters tend to other business. Children are instantly attracted to the flashy colors and stimulating sounds provided through television. At a glance, children watching television seems harmless, however, various studies have proven that this is not a harmless activity. According to Pediatrics, "The average child or adolescent watches an average of nearly 3 hours of television per day. By the time the average person reaches age 70, he or she will have spent the equivalent of 7 to 10 years watching television" (1).
This massive amount of time spent viewing television exceeds the amount of time a child will have spent in school.
Naturally, the television provides children with learning much of the time they are watching. However, not all learning is positive. In most cases, children are learning about stereotypes, aggression, and violence on mainstream shows. The effect of TV's negative messages on children is especially direct and harmful. "Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed through television, which influence their perceptions and behaviors" (Pediatrics 1). In children's' psychological development, they do not always assume that what is being viewed on the TV is pretend. The conceptual development of what is "real" and "pretend" is still taking place in childhood and even into early adolescence.
In Psychology and the Media: A Second Look, it is stated that "Graphic portrayals of explicit violence and brutal sexuality have exploded in the recent years in virtually all aspects of our popular culture, particularly through the mass media" (Schwartz 174). Children are going to be affected by these unnatural and shocking portrayals of society from a very young age. In turn, effects can increase as children continue to grow and watch large amounts of television programming. Television programming can evoke both negative physical behaviors and psychological/emotional distortions in children, but with effective parental and educational intervention, the effects have been minimized.
One major result of excessive negative television programming is aggressive physical behaviors in children. In a study involving preschool children at Pennsylvania State University, "Children who watch the violent shows, even 'just funny' cartoons, were more likely to hit out at their playmates, argue, disobey rules, leave tasks unfinished, and were less willing to wait for things than those who watched the nonviolent programs" (Violence on Television 2). This discovery is not surprising, however, because of the excessive amounts of violence on television today. According to Lifespan Development, "Children's cartoons typically have one violent act every three minutes" (Kail and Cavanaugh 262). To add to this startling fact, violent acts are not always portrayed as negative. Children often identify and relate to the character doing harm to others in the shows. Usually, the main character is some sort of hero whose actions are admired by audiences. Author Pamela Brink writes, "!
Children believe whatever the hero does is good. They identify with the hero. Today's heroes are violent men and women, who shoot, knife, and karate-kill everyone who does not agree with them--and they do it on every segment of every series" (2). In an attempt to follow these supposed role models on TV, children often mimic the behaviors they see acted out in their favorite shows.
Another factor in negative physical effects of television is the pressure on adolescents to drink alcohol and use drugs. According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, "In 1993, tobacco companies budget over $6 billion for promotion of tobacco use. An additional $119 million was spent to advertise and promote spit tobacco products" (Body Image 2). This is particularly bothersome because commercials and advertisement take up a large portion of TV time. Not only is tobacco use promoted through commercials, however, but also in shows as well as music televisio
Quotes talked about in this paper
- George Palermo says, "In the final analysis, however, it is the parents' responsibility to assume duty of screening television programs" ...
- Linda Schwartz writes, "Virtually as soon as a crime is committed, news of it flashes all around the world. This sometimes provokes copycat crimes in nature or technique" ...
- Schwartz states that, "Recent research findings suggest incivility among young people is on the rise and that young people are becoming more impassive, desensitized, indifferent, and/or cynical" ...
- Schwartz writes, "Although there are educational materials and tools about critical thinking and media available, too few school systems have incorporated such media literacy guides into their own school curricula" ...
- Pamela Brink writes, "! Children believe whatever the hero does is good. They identify with the hero. Today's heroes are violent men and women, who shoot, knife, and karate-kill everyone who does not agree with them--and they do it on every segment of every series" ...
- Sheri Graydon says, "Examining the ways in which all media messages are deliberately constructed can both give children an opportunity to talk about their viewing experiences, and help them to distance themselves from the violence they witness" ...
Terminology referenced in this essay
popular media, mass media, tobacco products,
Names referenced in this research paper
John C. Cavanaugh, Linda Schwartz, Kail, Sheri Graydon, Pamela Brink, George, Palmero, George Palermo, Huesmann, Pamela J, Robert V., Linda Linzer, Miller, Sheri,
Organizations included in this term paper
National Institute on Media, Pennsylvania State University, Columbine High School, University of Illinois, American Psychological Association,
Locations mentioned in this essay
America, Thompson Learning, United States, Washington, D.C.,
Companies mentioned in this report
Keywords included in this report
adolescent, television programming, body image, shows, physical effects, Kail, television violence, behavior, gender roles, tobacco use, school systems, March 2001, harmful, music television, television programs, television shows, these children, media literacy, Columbine High School shooting, TV programs, Pediatrics, young people, educational, popular media, American Psychological Association, mass media, Pennsylvania State University, emotional, World War II, shocking, tobacco companies, tobacco products, Leonard Eron, racial discrimination, February 2001, background noise, copycat crimes, aggressive behavior, psychological development, long term, Spring Break, elementary school, soap operas, educational toys, role models, big enough, higher level, eating disorders, thought process, African Americans,