Many of us have read the astonishing statistics concerning the effects of TV violence on our children. And we may stand in one of two camps: Television is just a reaction to society — a projection of the way life is. Or television is influencing and encouraging the brutality in this world.
Either way, it can’t be sugar-coated. Violence has always played some role in our society whether it’s between individuals demanding their will or on a larger scale — governments using ruthless force. So in a historical sense, it’s important to understand the impact of violence and what we’ve learned. These historical lessons have their place and their context, but what I’m speaking of is more the glamorizing of violence. Whether it is life imitating art or art imitating life, it doesn’t really matter. Our homes are the havens — the safety net in this world. This is the place where we buoy our kids up — positively uplift them — while teaching and minimizing the effects of outside negative influences. So if we truly do live in a violent world, we can offer some peace to our children — and if it’s more a matter of perspective, then aren’t we focusing on the wrong things?
Let’s look at the disadvantages of too much violence on the TV:
- Desensitization. Television nowadays is much more realistic than it used to be because of the advancement of special effects and computer animation. Due to the sometimes gratuitous nature, the line between fantasy and reality can be fuzzy. So a humph and nonchalant shrug may be the extent of sympathy when real news of violence is shared. And to go even one step further, children could then be less empathetic to the suffering of those around them.
- Fear. How do you feel if you’ve watched a program about a child abduction? I know I don’t want my children out of my sight — I turn into a hovering mom. While it’s good to be informed, we need to differentiate between sensationalism and facts. What are the statistics, and the reasonable precautions? If we’re constantly viewing negative input, that’s what we’ll always perceive out in the world, and that’s how people can become riddled with anxiety.
- Increased Violence. Numerous studies have demonstrated the correlation between increased aggression and increased television viewing of violence. These date back to the 50’s.
Television is not a terrible thing. There are numerous educational programs out there for our children. And if we do our homework, there are decent entertainment shows for our kids. It’s all about balance — even with television viewing. So what are the solutions for us as parents to combat this violence on the TV?
- Know what our children are watching. Watch a show with them — see what they’re really being exposed to.
- Set a time limit to television viewing. Don’t let your kids have the TV on continually. Pick a few pre-screened shows, something they can look forward to.
- Open Communication. Always encourage open communication with your children, and not just about TV programs. If we already have a good relationship with them — they will talk to us about the violence on television, or the difference between reality and fantasy. These kinds of conversations will be more natural and open the doors to your positive influence.
- Encouragement of other activities. There are many opportunities for our children — from sports to music, to meeting up with neighborhood kids for a soccer game. Encourage these less sedentary activities, there are a multitude of benefits to these activities.
Let’s be parents that are aware and help build strong, well-adapted children that are a positive force in this world.