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Monday, August 15, 2011

Essay on Negative Impact of Television on Children

In 2001, the Los Angeles Times released a news article about a sophomore at a private school in Baltimore County who secretly videotaped himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl and allowed his teammates to watch the video. (Kathleen Kelleher 2)  When it was discovered the school administrators expelled the sophomore and suspended the students who watched it.  The behavior may be surprising for some individuals. The videotape is just an expression of what they see on television.  Being constantly exposed to inappropriate messages about sexuality and even the constant exposure to violence, the young students nowadays think that sex and violence is normal.  It sends the wrong signal that everyone is doing it and that it happens on a daily basis to every people. 


Television is one of the most powerful medium of communication in the world today.  Everybody watches television at least a few hours a day.  Children watch television almost everyday and for many hours a day.  While it can be true that there are many sources of informative knowledge on the television, television also has negative impact on the life of the children. 


The first is that extensive exposure to television violence increases aggressiveness.  Children who repeatedly watch shows where violence is the main theme are more likely to imitate what they see.  They are more likely to think that violence is a part of life and that there is nothing wrong with it.  The aggressiveness in their behavior may not become immediately apparent until later on in their life. 


In a research conducted by The National Institute of Mental Health, it found that there is overwhelming evidence that “excessive” violence on television spills over into the playground and into the streets.  The same observation was made about children’s exposure to sex on television.  According to two recent studies conducted by RAND Health behavioral scientist Rebecca Collins, watching sex on television has an impact on the children’s sexual beliefs and activities.  Specifically, watching television which has sexual content hastens the children’s initiation to sexual activity.  This only means that the children who are exposed to sex at a young age start to explore about sex and are more likely to engage in premarital sex. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that media violence can cause aggressive and antisocial behavior, desensitize viewers to future violence and increase perceptions that they are living in a mean and dangerous world.  Thinking about it, it is actually not surprising to hear in the news cases of students going on a shooting spree inside their school grounds.  Consider the May 18, 2009 case of a 15 year old student in Larose Louisiana who fired at a school teacher before going to a bathroom and shooting himself in the head; or the case of two teenagers in West Covina, California who were charged of conspiracy to commit murder after plotting to shoot their classmates in a school assembly at Covina high school; or the May 1, 2009 case of a 17 year old student who shot himself in the stomach in front of the parking lot of Sheboygan North High School. 

Second, when children are constantly exposed to themes of premarital sex, promiscuity, one-night stands, adultery on television they get the idea that these acts are not wrong but are in fact normal.  Their sense of values gets distorted.  The desensitizing effect of sex and violence on television not only affects children.  It bears stressing that even adults are affected by the constant exposure to sex and violence on television.  Adults too may be encouraged to have extra-marital relations after constantly watching television shows with sexually explicit content.

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It can still be argued that television and other mass media should not be blamed for everything that is going wrong in the United States society.  Turki Al Dakhil, a talk show personality in an Arabia TV said that “it is not the media’s responsibility to raise children.” (“'Raising children is not media's responsibility'” 1) He added that that the media is not responsible for “moral corruption, the hole in the ozone layer and even swine flu.” (“'Raising children is not media's responsibility'” 1) Nothing can be farther from the truth.  Since the television is one of the most powerful mass media, the producers of television shows have to exercise a certain degree of responsibility over the scenes that they show.  According to Huston and Wright, University of Texas, children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep.  Because children spend so much time in front of the television and that majority of parents are becoming aware of the dangerous effects of what the children watch on their behavior, a majority of the Americans have expressed that they want the federal government to regulate the amount of violence and sex that appears on television. (“Survey Shows Most Americans Turned Off by Violence, Sex on TV” 2) Moreover, according to a national survey conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University, majority of Americans have said that they recently turned off a TV show because it contained more explicitly sexual or violent scenes that they are comfortable watching.  This is supported by a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that parents have become very concerned about the amount of sex and violence their children are exposed to on TV. (“"It's Just Harmless Entertainment" Oh really?.” 2)  They also found that nearly 2/3 of parents said that they favor new regulations to limit the amount of sex and violence in TV shows during the early evening hours, when children are most likely to be watching and only 35% opposed this suggestion. 


In conclusion, watching television does irreparable damage to the children because it exposes them to sex and violence which gives the children a false sense of reality.  


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