Television is one of the most powerful mass media tools and children are the active media users. They spend much of their time in front of their TV sets and are able to watch violent scenes which increase the level of aggression among young viewers. Violence on TV creates negative model of behavior and increases direct, indirect or social aggression, both among girls and boys.
Children under the age of twelve years often face violence on TV. However, violent scenes do not relate only to films, they can be met in news, music videos or even cartoons. The main problem of violence on TV is the children’s perception of what they see on the screens. The characters who do violence on TV are not always shown from the negative side. Sometimes they are portrayed as heroes who commit justified violence and very often receive rewards for such actions (Lemal & Van den Bulck, 2009). Moreover, their victims usually do not experience serious harm; thus, such character believed that he/ she acted in a right way and, as a rule, he/ she did not have any negative consequences.
Researchers have established that the most violence TV shows are found in children’s cartoons. The violence is described as something humorous and the realistic consequences of such actions are not presented. Programs contain violent images which describe physical injuries and temporary consequences. TV is the direct option for children, but many images that children may see are far from reality. Children also like to imitate what they see on television, especially if they prefer to watch cartoons that contain fights. Children will try to act the same manner in a real life and they care very little about the consequences.
Researchers provided many studies concerning the effect of TV violence on children’s behavior and their relations at home and in the society. One of the main reason is the duration of watching TV programs. Today the number of televisions has increased and almost every family has several devices at home. Moreover, some children have their personal televisions in the room and they can watch what they want and how long they want. Probably, it is the second reason that influences the level of aggression among children. Parents control less what their children watch on TV and thus, children receive an opportunity to watch violent scenes and it becomes a normal part of their every day life (G?lay, 2011).
Scientist researched the issue of TV violence and its effect on children to find out the connection between watching TV programs by children and the increasing of aggression level among them. For this study they invited 126 children at the average age of five to seven years old and their parents; sixty two of children were girls and sixty four were boys. For this study researchers used three instruments:
- The Child Behavior Scale that was developed by Gary W. Ladd and Suzan M. Profilet. The scale consists of six subscales; they are the aggression towards peers, fear and anxiety, hyperactivity and distractibility, asocial behavior with peers, prosocial behavior with peers and exclusion by peers. Each of the subscale contains seven items that determine the level of aggression and must be evaluated with the expressions “always”, “sometimes”, “never”.
- Peer Victimize Scale that was developed by Ladd and Kochenderfer-Ladd. This scale consists of four items and each of them responds to four types of aggression among peers, they are direct, indirect, physical and general. Each item should be evaluated with such expressions “always”, “sometimes” and “never”.
- The Child and Television. This scale refers to parents who must provide answers on the following four questions: How many friends does your child have, beside school friends? Does your child prefer to watch TV alone or with somebody else? What programs does your child like to watch? How much time does your child spend watching TV?
The research showed that there was established a negative connection between the duration of watching TV and the level of aggression, anxiety, asocial behavior, victimization and exclusion. Moreover, the study indicates that the duration of TV watching impacts peer relations of preschool children. Children who watch television longer exhibit such behavior problems as aggression, shyness which can lead to spending more time of watching television and less with the peers (G?lay, 2011). Many researchers noted that TV-viewing of aggressive scenes increase the level of aggression among children and decrease pro-social behavior. Children who watched more cartoons that contained violent scenes, comparing with their peers were more inclined to aggression towards others. Thus, the results of this study are clear and the effect of aggression on TV has a direct impact on children’s aggression in a real life.
Another research was conducted in India among students of three schools to determine the effect of viewing television on the level of aggression. The research was based on top five popular serials among children; they are “Dora the Explorer”, “Jackie Chan Adventures”, “Avatar”, “he-man” and “Max Steel” (Hemamalini, Aram & Rajan, 2011). The goal of the study was to identify the nature of violence on TV and its influence on children’s behavior. Children were watching seven hours of cartoons every week; the whole survey lasted three months and the total hours of media content was about one thousand hours. The Analysis showed that programs that contained violence were not violent, according to the children’s opinion. However, children cartoons contain less violence than the programs that are watched by their parents. For some children, aggression is the way to express their feelings and emotions, especially if these emotions are negative.
Children identify themselves with their favorite heroes of cartoons and follow their example irrationally. Researchers said that when a movie about Superman became popular, children tried to fly out of the window and it lead to several death cases. In India, children have another national hero whose name is Shaktimaan; children believe in this hero so strong that they want to know whether he comes to save them if they will have troubles.
According to the study, researchers distributed violence in such categories: heavy violent acts (13.4%), violence attitude contained (5.57%), verbal abuse (5.16%) and foul language (1/56%) (Hemamalini, Aram & Rajan, 2011). However, the scenes that contain rapes, brutal tortures, usage of automatic weapons and blood flow are normal for Indian audience, comparing to the Western one. Today cartoon contains scenes of jumping, falling from heights, diving and after all these tricks the main hero does not have any injuries. On the one hand, parents are happy that cartoons do not contain sex or any other kind of immoral behavior. However, these scenes create a wrong perception of reality by children and they might imitate the same actions and, as a result, it may bring harm to them.
Children cartoons contain many controversial issues, like sexuality and violence. The parents of the children would be shocked to know that cartoon makers intentionally brainwash their children by secretly putting such messages in cartoons. Thus, children have a desire to watch cartoons more and the life they see in the favorite TV serials attracts them so much that they try to imitate it in a real life, even if it can hurt others.
Thus, it can be said that the increasing level of aggression among children caused by TV programs is the social problem. Parents, whose goal is to develop the behavior of their children, forget about this duty and give their children too much freedom. In fact, it does not mean that parents must forbid their children to watch TV, but they may at least control what their children watch and how much time they spend watching television.
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