TV Violence and its effect on Children
Children see and hear a lot of things and eventually absorb and learn from their environment. Television and the other forms of media are some forms through which children access information as they are exposed to it right from the very beginning of their life. Violence portrayed through various media’s in today’s world a profound effect on children’s lives and their future. An ongoing topic of focus by researchers, educationalists, psychologists, parents and the public, exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior among children has been seen to have a high association.
Violence is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in today’s media. More than 60% of the content shown on television, movies, and video games contain violent content.
Most children are plugged into the world of television even before they enter preschool. It has been seen that more than two thirds of toddlers and infants watch a screen for an average of 2 hours per day and more young children spend 3 to 4 hours in front of a screen daily. The first few years of life are considered to be a crucial time for brain development. Thus, watching violent content and television can get in the way of them exploring and interacting with the world which aims to help them learn healthy physical and social development. For children, it is difficult to differentiate between reality and fantasy, which makes them more vulnerable to copy and believe what’s shown on television.
But how does violence shown on media have a harmful effect on children? Firstly, the violent content encourages children to learn aggressive behaviors and attitudes. Secondly, insensitivity towards victims of violence may be developed by children, and thirdly children may become increasingly fearful of being victimized by violence.
Risky behavior by children can include violence against others, lack of remorse for the consequences of their actions, faulty thinking, increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to violence and acts of violent behavior towards others through imitation. Increase in aggressive behavior is seen commonly among children who are exposed to violent television content.
Researchers have found that children who have been exposed to high levels of media violence showed altered brain activity linked to self-control and attention. This shows a link between violent media exposure and brain function.
Various contributing factors are associated to the development of aggressive behaviors such as poverty, child abuse, substance abuse, etc. Children imitate elders and others who they consider their heroes and this may be problematic as they imitate the violent acts in real life. Children may become desensitized to violence and may become less likely to attend to victims of real life violent incidents. There may be les responsibility and little sympathy for other victims. Fear of being the next victims of violence may increase greatly due to their inability to differentiate reality and fiction.