The Effect of TV Violence on Children

The Effect of TV Violence on Children
Television violence and its effects on viewers has been a controversial issue for many years. Some viewers believe that there is an increasingly large amount of violence on television and this widespread public concern has: ?Led to calls for stricter controls on the depiction of violence in programmes." (Gunter and McAleer 1990) The vast majority of research is inconclusive but demonstrates strong links between viewing violence and committing violent acts. To try and add value to previous research I conducted my own research through collating information from questionnaires issued to parents and children in my work placement; however the results did not directly support my hypothesis. I chose this research topic because I have a three year old child who enjoys watching television. I thought it may give me an insight into the effect these so called, children?s programmes are actually having on him, if any. The study was a one off piece of research as part of my hnd.
introduction The sole purpose of this project is to examine whether children behave differently after they have been watching violence on television. In addition the question that is of paramount importance to this whole piece of investigative work is: ? Are children more likely to imitate acts of violence or aggressive behaviour because of what they have seen on television? A continuing debate between Broadcasters and Scientists is permanently ongoing and in spite of the accumulation of evidence between the links of viewing television violence and children?s behaviour the debate goes on. Furthermore, media professionals would rather believe that television has no effects other than those intended, thousands of studies have pointed to casual relationships between television violence and real-life crime. In spite of numerous research studies, the perception continues that the effects of television violence are unclear, even contradictory. Moreover, blaming the media could be an easy option for some and can serve to divert attention from other causes or change going on in a child?s life, and so claims about the, ?Effects of Television? could be massively exaggerated. This ongoing debate has inspired a great deal of research, one of the most well known and publicised experiments was that of Albert Bandura?s Bobo doll studies, which are now widely regarded as early research classics in the field of psychology. I am going to discuss this experiment in greater detail within this project and hopefully link it with more recent research, my own research and observations to support my hypothesis. hypothesis & method hypothesis: It is predicted that children will imitate violence or display violent behaviour after viewing violence on television. method: My initial first step of this investigation was to carry out literacy research in my chosen topic, in order to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the subject area. This involved searching Internet web sites, books, newspaper articles, magazines and of course watching a television programme on the issue to enable me to gather information on previous research that has already been written on the effects of television violence. Secondly, as a means of carrying out my own research I compiled a questionnaire for children and parents to complete. Thirdly, I obtained permission from my work placement Manager to hand out the questionnaires to parents and children. Finally, I collated the results of the questionnaires and produced tables and graphs to display the evidence. results the results below have been collated from 20 questionnaires completed BY parents. (Refer appendix 1a) question answer Q1. 20 parents ticked Yes = 100% Q2. 10 parents ticked Yes = 50% Q3. 20 parents ticked Yes = 100% Average TV watched =3- 5 hours a day. Q4. 20 children were between 2-4 years of age. Q5. 12 between 6-7pm = 60% 8 between 7-8pm = 40% Q6. T.V programmes watched ticked by 20 parents. Refer to pie chart. Q7. 10 Parents ticked Yes = 50% Q8. 2 children had displayed violence = 20% Q9. 20 Parents ticked No = 100% Q10. 20 parents ticked 0-2 years. results continued the results below have been collated from 10 questionnaires completed BY children ON how they feel when watching the following programmes (Refer appendix 1b) programme happy sad DON?T know angry bob the builder 8 2 clifford the big red dog 10 tweenies 10 pingu 7 3 eastenders 2 coronation street 3 2 casualty 1 friends not watched results continued The results obtained from the two questionnaires do not directly link to the hypothesis of this experiment. What they do show however is that of the 20 parents asked 100% of children watch television and 50% of children have access to television in their bedrooms. In addition the results did show that 2 children did display levels of violence after watching television but the programme in both instances was not completed on the questionnaire, for what reason I do not know. Furthermore the parents? questionnaire revealed that the average time children are watching television is between 3-5 hours per day, and their children started watching television from 0-2 years of age. The children?s questionnaire did not support the hypothesis because the majority of children said they felt happy when watching the selected programmes and none of the children felt angry. The majority of the results are linked to this experiment but not directly, they do support research of the hours children spend watching television and from what age .In addition the only direct link made was the 2 displays of violence after watching television a programme, however more information would have to be gathered on this question for it to be conclusive. The results obtained could still be used as further evidence to support previous research as the information obtained is relevant to the nature of the experiment. discussion Before we move into the discussion of the effects of television violence and whether or not children imitate what they have seen on television, it is important to offer a definition of violence. The following statement gives a clear and concise explanation: ?Violence is a general term to describe actions, usually deliberate, that cause or intend to cause injury to people, animals, or non-living objects. Violence is often associated with aggression.?(www//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence 17.04.05) There has been a considerable amount of research into inter-relationships between the viewing of violent films, videos and TV programmes and aggressive behaviour by the viewers of such material, in particular the behaviour of children. The range of media to which children have access to has grown rapidly in this generation. Take the books, newspapers, magazines, films, radio, tapes, records, and broadcast television familiar to children of the previous generation, then add dozens of cable TV. channels, thousands of videos and video games, and millions of Internet sites. The result is a crowded media frenzy in which children are engrossed in, on a daily basis. Therefore we have to ask ourselves, what effects is TV violence having on our children and does it really inspire them to violence? I am now going to look at previous research to see if I can find the answers to my questions. In 1996 and1997 unesco conducted the Global Media Violence Survey. More than 5,000 12-year-old children in 93 countries participated, representing all regions of the world. Under the supervision of Dr Jo Groebel of Utrecht University, the study aimed to understand the role of media in the lives of children and the relationship between media violence and aggressive behaviour among children in different settings. The study found that 93% of children watch an average of three hours television a day. This is at least 50% more than the time spent on any other out-of-school activity, including homework, being with friends, or reading. This evidence leaves little doubt that television is the most important medium in the lives of children almost everywhere in the world today. In addition the study revealed, television, expose?s children to high levels of violent images on a daily basis. Furthermore it revealed, in many countries, there is an average of five to ten aggressive acts per hour on children?s television programmes. The study found evidence that media images reinforce the experiences of children in their real-life environments. Almost half (44%) of both boys and girls reported a strong overlap between what they perceive as reality and what they have seen on screen. Many children experience both real and media environments in which violence appears to be natural and unfortunately the most effective solution to life?s problems. This research did not directly answer the question, does seeing violence on television affect children?s behaviour? Instead the study chose to link the evidence to, "Compass Theory? Which states: ?Depending on a child?s existing experiences, values, and the cultural environment, media content offers an orientation, a frame of reference which determines the direction of the child?s own behaviour. The child does not necessarily adopt the behaviour portrayed, but the media images provide a model, a standard for what may be considered normal and acceptable.? (http://www.ppu.org.uk/chidren/advertising_html) More recent research suggests young children who watch a lot of television are more likely to become bullies. The authors suggest the increasingly violent nature of children?s cartoons may be to blame. (www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1489580,00.html) The researchers used existing data from a national US survey to study the amount of television watched by 1266 four-year-olds. Then they compared that amount with follow-up reports ? by the children?s mothers, on whether the children bullied or were, "Cruel or Mean to others" when they were between six and 11 years old. The study showed that four-year-olds who watched the average amount of television e.g. 3-5 hours per day ? were 25% more likely to become bullies than those who watched none. And children who watched eight hours of television a day were 200% more likely to become bullies. Frederick Zimmerman, an economist at the University of Washington in Seattle asserts: ?Parents should understand that, just because TV shows or movie is made for kids, it doesn?t mean it?s good for kids ? especially four-year-olds.? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1899533.stm) Further studies show that children of pre-school age overwhelmingly prefer and pay close attention to cartoons. Saturday morning cartoons, for example, have 20 to 25 violent acts per hour compared with five violent acts per hour in prime time viewing. Because of their desires to watch cartoons children are being exposed to large numbers of violent acts in their daily viewing. Based on their viewing patterns, it has been estimated that, by the time pre-school children start school, they will have seen an average of 8,000 murders and 100,000 assorted other acts of violence and destruction on television. (Huston, Donnerstein et al., 1992.) In its crudest form the relationship between children and television is portrayed as a matter of single cause and direct effect, which puts this kind of research firmly in the behaviourist tradition. The most famous psychological studies of children and aggressive behaviour are Albert Bandura?s Bobo doll studies, which are now widely regarded as early research classics in the field. These were experimental studies in which children of nursery school age observed a playroom in which an adult was hitting, punching, kicking and throwing a large inflatable doll. Particular actions were used for e.g. using a hammer and saying, ?Pow? boom? boom? which children would be unlikely to perform spontaneously. The children were then observed as they played alone in the playroom with the doll for 10 to 20 minutes. A control group of children was allowed to play with the doll without observing the aggressive adult behaviour. As one might expect, the children who witnessed the adult aggression performed similar acts; the others did not. In a series of studies, Bandura and his colleagues have shown that children display novel acts of aggressive behaviour which they have acquired simply through observing someone else engaged in these acts. In a later version of the experiment (1965), the children were divided into 3 groups. One group went straight into the playroom. The second group saw the model being rewarded for aggressive actions before they went in. The third saw the model being punished. Those who saw the model being punished showed significantly less aggression than those who saw the model rewarded or who saw no consequences. This suggests that seeing a model punished leads to less learning of the model?s behaviour. However, after all the children had played in the playroom with the doll, they were offered rewards to behave in the playroom like the adult model had done. In the first stage of the experiment the consequences for the adult affected the children?s behaviour. The second stage showed that they had in fact learned the behaviour because they were able to perform it. Therefore those children who had seen the model punished had still learned the behaviour but would only behave like that if offered an incentive. Bandura suggested that: ?We should distinguish clearly between the acquisition of aggressive responses and the performance of aggressive acts: observation of modelling is sufficient for aggressive behaviour to be learned, but reinforcement is necessary for aggressive acts to be actually performed.?(www.apa.org/publicinfo/banduraviolence.htlm) Further laboratory experiments by Liebert and Baron (1972) using real television programmes, in which they measured the willingness of children to hurt another child after watching a programme were conducted. Within the experiment children were shown either a race track or an aggressive programme and then allowed either to facilitate or disrupt another child?s game. They could hurt the other child by pressing a button to make the handle hot which the child was holding. The children who had seen the aggressive programme were significantly more aggressive than those who had seen the non-aggressive programme. This was particularly the case with boys. In addition, when the children were later observed at play, those who had viewed the aggressive programme showed a stronger preference for playing with weapons and aggressive toys than did the other children. Similar results have been found in most experimental studies. They suggest that the more violence is viewed, the greater the likelihood of aggressive behaviour. However, apart from ethical objections one might raise, such experimental studies have major limitations in terms of their artificiality. They have been criticized for a lack of, ?Ecological Validity? since they were concerned with strange behaviour in strange settings. In contrast a few researchers and theorists have claimed that televised violence does not have negative effects. Seymour Feshbach in the early 1970?s, proposed that viewing violence on TV provides an opportunity for the discharge, or catharsis, of aggressive feelings and therefore reduces the possibility that the viewer will participate in aggressive or violent behaviour. The theory underlying the catharsis hypothesis proposes that a child who views violence on television indirectly experiences the violence and therefore harmlessly discharges his/her unexpressed feelings of anger, hostility, and frustration. In other words, viewing violent fantasy may serve nearly as well as actual violence in ridding people of their hostile impulses. For example, Feshbach and Singer (1971) found that adolescent and pre-adolescent boys at a residential school were more aggressive if they watched non-aggressive TV programmes than if they had watched aggressive programmes. Watching the programmes seemed to be therapeutic, harmlessly discharging aggressive feelings. This study has however been found to be flawed, and an attempt at replication did not produce the same findings. Furthermore the catharsis theory does not agree with evidence that more aggressive children prefer to watch aggressive programmes, and are more likely to do so than children who are less aggressive (Chaffee, 1972). Another version of Catharsis Theory is that watching violent programmes decreases levels of arousal, leaving viewers less prone to aggressive behaviour. Finally Dorr & Kovaric, 1980) assert: ?Many theories about children?s behaviour and the influence of TV are in the behaviouristic tradition: where the emphasis is on the passive learning of habitual behaviour through conditioning. They tend to ignore the active meaning-making that children engage in, and the variety of meanings which they construct with TV.? conclusion In conclusion it is fair to say that it is clearly obvious from the research already done concerning television and its effects, that violence is quite prevalent on British television. Violence on television can do one of three things. The first is make us more violent (Huesmann 1982), the second is make us less violent (Feshbach 1972) and the third is to have no effect at all (Freedman 1984, Kaplan and Singer 1976). Most evidence has supported the first argument namely that television violence does increase our own violent behaviour. In addition most of the research evidence tends to suggest that over a long period, ?Heavy viewing? of violent programmes increases at least slightly the likelihood of a disposition towards aggressive behaviour amongst children and adolescents. I have shown that various explanations have been offered to describe processes which violent TV might have on children?s behaviour. All I have done here is to refer to some of these proposed processes briefly. No single process is likely to offer an adequate explanation. In contrast however we have to take into account the following contradictory findings: ? If watching violence and acting aggressively are correlated, this does not prove that watching causes the aggression. It may be, for instance, that aggressive people seek out violent programmes. ? Even if watching a violent programme does increase aggressiveness, this may be only a short-term phenomenon. ? As in all social science research, other factors are likely to be involved, in complex inter-relationships. These might include economic hardship, family and peer relationships, gender, sub cultural values, various uses of TV by individual children and so on. Therefore I have to admit that my own primary research and previous research does not support my hypothesis because I feel there is no clear-cut evidence. Moreover, I am a great believer in that children learn from their environment and learn through imitating others and there must be some element of truth in the vast amounts of research that exists. Maybe one day somebody will make a direct link and be brave enough to publish their findings and have them supported 100%. Finally I think it is of paramount importance to remember that the most critical argument against watching television, in addition to the violent content is that it affects the three characteristics that distinguish us as human beings. In the first 3 years of life, a child learns to walk, to talk and to think. Television keeps us sitting, leaves little room for conversations and seriously impairs our ability to think!

The Effect of TV Violence on Children 9.6 of 10 on the basis of 3350 Review.