Initiated in 1994, research done by the National Cable Television Association defines TV violence as “any obvious depiction of the use of physical force – or overt threat of physical force – targeted to harm an animate being in a physical way.” In the area of television, violence can play a positive or negative role for the whole society in general. When evaluating violence on TV, the negative effects it has on society greatly outweigh the positive.
Violence on television has been entertaining viewers for decades and has played a big role in their lives. Viewers tend to copy the things they see on television, and violence is shown often, making people act violently. To add more, violence has been a part of the entertainment process since ancient times. Just think about ancient Rome and gladiators! The latter were armed combatants who served to entertain noble audiences in the Roman Empire in violent battles with wild animals, condemned criminals, and other gladiators.
Violence can be found everywhere on television. The news often centers its reports on homicide, rape, assault, and gang-related cases. With these types of activities being promoted over charity and goodwill activities, it is hard to see the difference between right and wrong. This could cause people to use violence as a source of attention, knowing that it is recognized by the public. Many TV shows are actually based on violence in the form of fighting and murder. When viewers closely follow these shows, they extract the violent messages that are shown and sometimes act them out. These are two of the many ways that television demonstrates violence.
Children are the most sensitive emotionally to their own feelings and feel things like no other category of people. If the parents fail to monitor the kind of content that their kids receive from the screen, the chances are the little ones will end up criminals or engaged in some sort of violence. It is hard to guess in advance the consequences of such a failure. However, according to 15-years research performed by the Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior, the major effects of seeing violence on TV among kids include the following:
- Children may have more fear of the world they live in.
- The little ones may become less sensitive and compassionate to the suffering and pain of people around.
- Children may be more likely to become aggressive toward others.
The field of education is also affected by TV or videos that present violence. Television and the other types of media are the key entertainment sources for children as they grow. It’s a well-known fact that they prefer watching TV because it is more interesting than attending school lessons and listening to their teachers discussing boring stuff. As the child grows, violence on television can change their behaviors in the education segment. They may become less interested in school and more focused on non-academic or even hostile ways of entertainment. For example, research conducted by psychologists Leonard Eron and L. Rowell Huesmann, children who spent many hours in front of TV watching high-level violence materials in elementary school, tended to behave more aggressively in their teenage years.
Based on 37 incidents of targeted school shootings and attacks from 1974 to 2000 in the United States of America, the report provided by the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education shows that more than 50% of attackers had a certain interest in violence through books, films, video games, and some other media.
As strange as it may sound, violence can also play positive roles within this or that society. First of all, when it comes to violent TV viewing among children and adults, it is reported that seeing too much violence on TV might scare viewers away from horrifying events. What is more, when people view the various ways that violence can hurt someone, they tend to realize how terrible it is to act aggressively or harmfully toward others. In other words, they learn to compassionate to people around.
Without a doubt, there are some positive sides of viewing violence on television. Nevertheless, the truth is that the number of people who actually experience this positive issues is negligible. In other words, spending countless hours watching TV with numerous violence scenes and hoping for a certain positive effect to come is pointless. Especially it is true when it comes to the little ones with unstable mental state.
All in all, media content has changed significantly over the past few decades. On TV, you can find only a few morals these days. Do you remember when the main hero in a movie or TV show drew his gun only when somebody provoked him to, and always in order to protect the weak against the strong? Today, the reality is that the models of behavior in video games, movies, music, and TV shows are becoming more and more antisocial. Psychopaths, drug dealers, and gangsters are usually unreasonably glamorized.
Even though in some cases, violence plays a positive role in society, it is obvious that the negative effect it has plays a much bigger role. With the reduction of violence, crime and violence rates could possibly drop but with the emphasis TV puts on violence, this will probably never happen.