children watch an average of three to fours hours of television
daily. Television can be a powerful influence in developing
value systems and shaping behavior. Unfortunately, much of
today's television programming is violent. Hundreds of studies
of the effects of TV violence on children and teenagers have
found that children may:
"immune" to the horror of violence
accept violence as a way to solve problems
the violence they observe on television; and
with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers
viewing of television violence by children causes greater
aggressiveness. Sometimes, watching a single violent program
can increase aggressiveness. Children who view shows in which
violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished,
are more likely to imitate what they see. Children with emotional,
behavioral, learning or impulse control problems may be more
easily influenced by TV violence. The impact of TV violence
may be immediately evident in the child's behavior or may
surface years later, and young people can even be affected
when the family atmosphere shows no tendency toward violence.
TV violence is not the only cause of aggressive or violent
behavior, it is clearly a significant factor.
can protect children from excessive TV violence in the following
attention to the programs their children are watching and
watch some with them
limits on the amount of time they spend with the television;
consider removing the TV set from the child’s bedroom
out that although the actor has not actually been hurt or
killed, such violence in real life results in pain or death
to let the children see shows known to be violent, and change
the channel or turn off the TV set when offensive material
comes on, with an explanation of what is wrong with the
of the violent episodes in front of the children, stressing
the belief that such behavior is not the best way to resolve
offset peer pressure among friends and classmates, contact
other parents and agree to enforce similar rules about the
length of time and type of program the children may watch
can also use these measures to prevent harmful effects from
television in other areas such as racial or sexual stereotyping.
The amount of time children watch TV, regardless of content,
should be moderated because it decreases time spent on more
beneficial activities such as reading, playing with friends,
and developing hobbies. If parents have serious difficulties
setting limits, or have ongoing concerns about how their child
is reacting to television, they should contact a child and
adolescent psychiatrist for consultation and assistance.
information see Facts for Families;
#40 "Influence of Music and Rock Videos,"
#55 "Understanding Violent Behavior in Children,"
#59 "Children Online," and
#67 "Children and the News."
#13 Updated 4/99
Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving
us permission to use this article.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists
who are physicians with at least five years of additional
training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child
and adolescent psychiatry.
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