Does Television Violence Have an Adverse Effect on Children? Most people read statistics like “Before the average American child leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed more than 8,000 murders on television” ( “Does T.V. Kill?” ), and worry about the negative effect viewing violence on television will have on their children. Research into the effects of childhood exposure to violent television programming shows that there is cause for concern. Watching violence on television does have a negative effect on the way children see the world and the way they behave towards others.
Researchers have discovered that repeated exposure to violence on television causes children to become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
Viewing violent television programming also causes children to view the world as a frightening place. Children who observe violence on television are likely to act out what they see, and to think that violent acts are acceptable. According to George Gerbner, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, for the first time in human history most of the stories about people, life, and values are told not by parents, schools, churches, or others in the community who have something to tell, but by a group of distant conglomerates that have something to sell. We need to examine exactly what these companies are telling children and the effects these violent stories are having on the children who watch them.
One of the first negative effects researchers discovered while observing children who were frequently exposed to violence on television was a lack of empathy towards other people’s pain and suffering. It was discovered that children who watched excessive amounts of violent programming were less likely to help victims of real-life violence ( Kinnear 6 ). Why does viewing violence on television have this effect on children? Children viewing acts of violence on television are essentially being trained to be spectators to violence. They observe violent acts...