Northwest NEWS

July 3, 2000


What are your children watching?

   Media violence is especially damaging to young children under the age of 8 because they cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy as well as you and I. Do you know that there are twice as many violent acts on Saturday morning cartoons than on prime time?

   According to an article I read, called "Some Things You Should Know About TV Violence," there are 20-25 violent acts an hour on Saturday morning cartoons and an average of 9.5 violent acts on prime time. Also, the average 18-year-old has seen 200,000 violent acts, not including the 45,000 acts that are murders.

   Long-term exposure to violence might impact a person in the following ways: They might become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. They will be more fearful of the world around them. Over 1,000 studies confirm that they are more likely to behave in an aggressive manner. They think of aggressive behavior as normal.

   A survey in 1993 conducted by Electronic Media Magazine said that 74% of TV station managers agreed that TV is too violent and favored a voluntary network reduction in violence levels and increase in warnings.

   The average child with a gaming system plays for about 90 minutes a day in which 2/3 of that gaming time includes violent game playing. In the newer games, they usually have graphic and explicit depictions of violence letting the players participate in more realistic violent actions. That has made a public concern regarding the harmful effects of interactive gaming. As a result, a video game rating system is being used in four countries: United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia.

   One of the most debated issues in relation to media awareness is mostly because it has to do with children. Basically, media violence contributes to a culture of acceptance of violence as a good solution. The national coalition on TV violence has made media violence guidelines which describe violent acts as these:

   Involves an agent and a victim; Contains an expression of over-force; Are committed with deliberate and hostile intent.

   Parents can help children develop media literacy skills by: Helping children distinguish between reality and fantasy; Ask your child how they feel after watching a violent TV show, movie, or music video; Monitor what they watch and listen to them each day; Set limits to how much TV they watch or games they play; Teach children alternatives other than violence.

   Media violence often fails to show the consequences of real life.

Bryce Stamponi, Bothell