The belief of many people is that violent television has a negative affect on the children that view it. American children watch an average of 3-4 hours of television a day according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). That means they view approximately 24,000 hours of TV and 200,000 acts of violence by the age of 18. Violence on television influences our children and youth and not for the better. Children are more aggressive, oppositional, and belligerent in this generation than in the last few generations, because of the amount of violence they witness on television. And a lack of parents monitoring their child’s TV viewing plays a big role in how children are influenced by the TV violence.
While there are many positive things about children’s programming such as educational shows, the negatives out weigh the positives. Children’s programming is largely fictional, not reality based. Children, under 8-years-old, do not know how to distinguish fantasy and fiction from reality. They want to be like the characters they see on television. Promoted on television is this idea that kids need to be violent to resolve the negative circumstances they experience. Even the heroes on TV use forms of violence without consequences to solve their problems. They conquer the villain by using tactics such as fistfights with super strength to using weapons like handguns or supernatural weapons such as a sorcerer’s wand. It teaches our children that heroes use violent tactics to solve problems.
We, as parents, must realize that much of what our children view is violent. At the same time, I must ask, if television violence is the cause of so much of the violence we see in young people or is a lack of parenting responsible? Our children watch, on average, 4 hours of television a day. Are parents monitoring their kids TV programs or are the children, themselves controlling what they watch? I know from experience that violent television affected my children. My two oldest daughters watched TV without much supervision when they were young and now, as teens, they have unnecessary fears and anxieties that would not be there if they had not watched particular violent shows. Because of the outcome we saw with our oldest daughters, my husband and I do not allow our youngest daughter to watch TV unsupervised. Like a hawk scopes out his prey, we closely monitor her television viewing.
To this day, she is secure in herself, has not had a nightmare from anything she watched on TV and does not fear things like the dark or “scary” noises. Many parents in our country do not control what their children watch. I find this true when it comes to animated programs. They have the notion that if it is animated it must be appropriate for kids. Since when do the television networks get to decide what is appropriate or not appropriate for my child or yours? Many parents prefer to take a back seat to their child’s viewing in hopes that the government will exert more control over the networks or that the networks themselves will adjust what they air to meet young viewers needs.
It is a parent’s responsibility to set limits on their child’s television viewing. My brother played cops, robbers, cowboys, and Indians, using toy guns, when he was a child. Occasionally he would watch an animated movie that had its share of cartoon violence. He did not become a violent child or even an angry adult because my parents monitored what he watched and how often he watched TV. We as parents need to step up to the plate and take control of what our children are watching. It is not the government’s job or the networks job to monitor what our children view. They don’t have the same concern for our children as we should. Children watching violence on TV does not alone create violent children but watching too much violence while unsupervised has the potential to create violent children. Parents, I urge you to take control of the television your children watch and see the difference that I see in my kids.