Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Children and TV Violence
American children watch an average of 3 to 4 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:
- become immune to the horror of violence
- gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems
- imitate the violence they observe on television
- identify with certain characters, victims, or
Extensive 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. The impact of TV violence may be immediately evident
in a child's behavior or may surface years later. Young
people can even be affected when the family atmosphere shows
no tendency toward violence.
This does not mean that violence on television is the only
source for aggressive or violent behavior, but it is a
You can protect children from excessive TV violence in the
- Pay attention to the programs your children are watching.
Watch some with them.
- Set limits on the amount of time they spend with the
- Point out that although the actor has not actually been
hurt or killed, such violence in real life results in
pain or death.
- Refuse to let your children see violent TV shows.
- Change the channel or turn off the TV set when something
offensive comes on, with an explanation of what is wrong
with the program.
- Disapprove of the violent episodes in front of the
children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not
the best way to resolve a problem.
- To offset peer pressure among friends and classmates,
contact other parents and agree to enforce similar rules
about the length of time and types of programs the
children may watch.
Parents should 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. It keeps
children from other, more beneficial activities such as
reading and playing with friends. If parents have serious
difficulties setting limits or deep concerns about how their
child is reacting to television, they should contact a
physician or mental health professional for help.