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Violence on Television and children

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05/09/2005 at 20:43
Hello all!
As part of an Alevel project i am looking at violence on the television, (and in the media) and its effect on children

Just wondered what your views, as parents were on this controversial issue, it would be of great interest to me, and a HUGE help with this project if you could express your opinion! Do you feel that violence is a big an issue as it is made out? do you feel the watershed should be made earlier? do you think cartoon violence is the same as film violence? (and any other opinions you have would be greatly appreciated!!!)

if you would prefer, i would be happy to recieve your opinions priviatly via PM, and all information will be kept anonymous in the project i produce

Thanks for your time!!
05/09/2005 at 21:49
Hi there Jamie- !
Interesting subject, may I just ask first off where did you hear about ThinkBaby.com? Just me being nosey..

And my views on media violence?
Well.. as someone who grew up in the 'media age' of the 90's, and am currently undertaking my adolescence in the 00's , with such wonders as the internet being available in almost every home and television being a 'standard' everywhere you go- I (and no offence to the older mum's here) may have a slightly different take on this particular subject.

If only for the fact that since I was tiny- colour television and regular news bulletins and even news programmes aimed at children have been the norm.
I have been bombarded by media in all it's glory from day one!

Until I became a mum, I wasn't shocked by the images of war, the issues of child abuse, or cartoon animals hitting one another with large Acme mallets.
I do not think cartoon violence breeds mimicked (sp?) violence in children.

What does- is a violent parent figure.

Children exposed to actual people being violent (not neccessaily towards them) will, I believe have this effect.
And possibly to an extent, actors on the TV. I don't know!

As a child I was never motivated to bully my peers because of media/television violence.

I don't however think it is neccessary to expose children to violence on the television. The watershed is there for a reason, and I don't think it is an unreasonable time.
And- in my opinion (a slightly snobby middle class one I know) if your child has nothing better to do, than stay up at the age of eleven until 12 o'clock at night, watching inappropriate material on the television. I would say blaming the media is an easy way out for when their school sends yet another letter home, saying they're losing grades and being a thug.
05/09/2005 at 22:03
Not sure If i've been any help..
But Good Luck with the Project!

(My mum may post a reply- she was around for black & white TV!)
05/09/2005 at 22:20
Finally a few moments to myself, and good to see I'm not the only one around on the site this evening!

Interesting question, and very interesting perspective Mummy goth.

I agree about the watershed being there for a good reason, though it doesn't always seem to be stuck to... Personally I think the main problem with showing violence on tv is numbing people to it. It's very different when people show the emotional impact of violence on families and friends and other people, but the kind of mindless violence that seems to pass without consequence does disturb me.

I've worked with children in nursery schools in teh past when I was a student, and the children liked to act out Ninja turtles or whatever in the playground and play fight. They didn't mean to hurt each other but they sometimes did by accident. What really worried me was when children of four and five started talking about and wanting to play at Robocop!!

I think tv can have a subtle impact on people. I remember being younger and watching a martial arts film and then wanting to learn martial arts, partly because it looked so graceful. It didn't mean that I went out and tried to karate attack my friends though!

I really do think it depends on context. Violence is a part of life, and you can only sheild your children from it for so long while remaining realistic. Also I think it's important that children are aware of how violence can affect people, and I think it's far preferable that they don't gain that experience in their own lives. But there are a lot of show where violence is shown as a cheap thrill and devoid of context and I think that's most likely to have a negative impact on younger children. Once they're older they know that violence always has consequences and see such portrayals for what they are.

At what age this happens is very much down to the individual child, which is why the watershed is a useful tool for parents to make the decision about what their children should watch. Just sticking to the watershed is no substitute though, for parents knowing what their children are watching and filtering for suitability, making an individual choice depending on where the child is in their emotional development.

I don't have much time for 'cool' parents who keep their 6 year olds quiet by sitting them in front of an 18 video.


On a slightly different topic I do think violent computer games are pretty bad, again because they take place within a moral vacuum. I wouldn't be happy about my children playing them (I'm not talking about pacman!).



06/09/2005 at 21:12
MummyGoth's Mum here (I must get my own login one day!!)
Although MG has proudly stated she watched all sorts from day 1, she didn't really (or at least not when I was around). We did try to limit the exposure to violent programmes / images for all of our youngsters, at least until an age when they could discuss the effects, which was surprisingly young (7 or 8)! Not to say that they immediately started watching 18 certficate movies, but a gradual increase in the violence was then permitted, hopefully in line with recommended certifications. But there should be some images that children don't see, and the numbing effect is definitely there - it's just not sufficiently linked to consequence in some instances. A point well made, Shoestring.

I did indeed grow up with black & white tv (so old....!) and I think tv was much more innocent for children, then. There was also less of it. The loss of innocence in children's lives is something I do miss!

The 1970s had some of the most violent mid evening programming that you could see - The Sweeney was a UK cop show which depicted very graffic violence. A programme which probably contributed to the introduction of the watershed.

The casual acceptance of violence without understanding consequence is the problem. It is important to ensure that children understand that no-one can be shot and decorously clutch the affected part and carry on with the heroic rescue of whatever! It is parental responsibility to ensure that children see what the parents consider to be reasonable, but it must be a considered choice, not using the tv as the baby sitter, without thinking about the effects of the images being watched.

I know I sound a bit pompous (extremely pompous, I suspect) & preachy, but I do feel very strongly that children should be allowed to be children, and that they should not have to deal with images and situations that they are not equipped to understand.

There is a general understanding from a very young age that cartoons are not "real" (despite Pixar's excellent attempts at reality). But perhaps the cartoon itself has the best view on this, and Jamie, I refer you to an episode of the Simpsons where the kids stop watching Itchy & Scratchy and go out and play. It's funny because its true!

I agree with Shoestring on computer games, although I fear I lost that battle with my own children during the teenage years, but hopefully enough of the recognition of what is acceptable in real life and what is not, has sunk in.

An interesting project Jamie - good luck with it. Hope these observations have been some use.
06/09/2005 at 21:40
Thanks for your opinions guys, it is very much appreciated!! :)

I found the site after doing a search on google for parenting forums, after flicking through various posts on each i decided that this seemed the most friendly and helpful, and thought id see what happened if i posted here! (so far so good!!!)

i mite post here occasionally with new research ive found as i progress in this project, because i wonder if it might interest you as parents??

thanks jamie x
07/09/2005 at 08:53
I haven't yet got the the stage where I have to worry much about it, but I do find that since becoming a parent me 'compass' on this has changed slightly.

Sometimes I see things on telly that I really wouldn't be happy having my child watch when older and I have to say I have been known to get a bit uppity and turn the tv off in disgust when before-hand I might have been a big more forgiving. It's definitely always to do with violence or swearing. Not that I particularly mind swearing, but when it's agressive and it seems to go on and on in an attempt to shock I find it OTT and annoying. Funnily enough I don't really have a problem with swearing when the point behind it is humour. I think it's the menace that I don't like, the fact that you can assault someone with words.

I think the watershed is fine where it is, but should be stuck to. But I agree with the others that it's no substitute for active parenting.

I don't think cartoon violence and tv violence are the same, for the reasons mymmygoth's mum outlined. Small children see cartoons for what they are.

Good luck with the project Jamie!

07/09/2005 at 14:36
Hi Jamie,

I personally think there's a lot of hot wind about violence on telly. I agree that violence without context can have a negative influence on children and I agree that we should have a watershed.

but I don't think it's getting markedly worse over the years and I think some people will always look back with rose-tinted spectacles at the past. Like mg's mum says, there have been plenty of violent series in the past.

So I say yes to a watershed, yes to clear labelling of programmes and, as one person put it, active parenting, but no to a 'toy town' perfect candy world where we only have fluffy tv.
08/09/2005 at 20:41
In a child psychology book i found an experiment conducted by Bandura et al. (1963)

He took 96 children aged between 2 and 6, and seperated them into 4 groups opf 24. the groups were then shown different scenes.

Group one saw an adult behaving agressivly towards a 'bobo' doll. (this envolved punching, kicking, shouting)
Group 2 saw the adult behaving in exactly the same way, but on film
Group 3 saw the same sequence of action, but in a cartoon format.
Group 4were a control group and were shown no violent behaviour at all.

the children were then put into a room to play with toys, including a 'bobo' doll, and were observed behind one way glass. each of the childs behaviour was observed and the number of actions which were performed during a 20 min period, results as follows:

group 1 (real life) 83 violent acts in 20 mins
group 2 (film) 92 acts
group 3 (cartoon) 99 acts
group 4 (no model) 54 acts

this suprised me a bit, but the childs background, and behaviour before watching obviously hadnt been moniterd. This is one of the only experiments of its kind as it was considered immoral to expose children to violence in the name of research.

Just thought this might be on interest, thanks for your help so far!
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