Speech and Debate Television violence has detrimental influence on adolescents
Siir Tecirlioglu Television violence has detrimental influence on adolescents On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 13 people in their school in Colorado (trutv.com). This is theColumbine High School Massacre. This dreadful event is one of the most controversial examples of how violent content on televisionimpacts the lives and behaviors of adolescents. Television violence is detrimental to adolescents because it creates people who imitate violence, who accept violence as a way ofsolving problems, and who are immune to the horror of violence. First of all, why is television effective in children‟s behavior? Children do not perceive what they see; instead they passively intake thetelevision content--especially in a world where it is extremely realistic. How is it possible that these little kids can differentiate the realworld and the world on television? This is the obscure line they grow up with. According to csun.edu in one year, the average American youth spends 900 hours in school and 1500 hours watching television. In 1994, in the United States, there was the 3-year National Television Violence Study which assessed the amount of violence ontelevision. According to medialiteracy.net, the results show that 61% of the shows on television contain violence. In 37% of these, thebad guys were not even punished—which gives the message that a person who commits a crime may not necessarily be penalized forthat. It is natural that there are people who think violence and television are not related. An article on time.com called, “Behavior: TVViolence: Not So Bad” says the following: “most children who routinely view television‟s most violent offerings…are not hurt.” This isironic because it is suggesting there is no harm brought to those who watch violent shows. It does not tell us whether these children,themselves, are violent. Additionally, there are people who say, “What is needed is not censorship but powerful and thoughtful dialoguefocusing on inquiry and the development of personal judgment.” (Comminfo.rutgerd.edu). What we need to do is to solve this probleminstead of giving up and saying us, humans, cannot change. We can change because our actions are related to the media and the societyaround us. Opposition is valid but the negative influence of television violence outweighs the positive. It is not surprising to see children imitate violence when we know they can easily be influenced by anything around them. Schoolviolence is an example. Children believe that they can show off their “power” by fighting—the bullies. This confidence comes from themedia. For example, there is a show called SmackDown where giant men are fighting and pretending to be killing one another. What cana 7 year old child do after watching this show? He will not be thinking about the negative influence of the show on him, because he willbe busy practicing what he just watched. In 1999, the cable company of Bhutan took off the show SmackDown off air because “thestudents (were) becoming more violent…at school…trying to imitate the wrestling styles...” (bbc.co.uk). Another example is related tothe Columbine Incident, because the murderers had named their “operation” NBK, which stood for the movie „Natural Born Killers‟.The plot is based on murderers and the media coverage given to them (Jerald Block. Lessons From Columbine). Unfortunately, themovie has been shown on televisions many times. Another important effect of television violence is choosing violence to solve problems. In most television shows, the same structure ispresented: a problem, a hero, and an antagonist. Going back to the results of the National Television Study, in 61% of the conflicts, theproblem is solved with the use of violence. Therefore, the television is giving the message that violence solves problems. In 1963,professors A. Badura, and D. Ross studied the effects of real-world violence, television violence and cartoon violence. In their study,they tested 100 children who were divided into 4 groups. The first 3 groups watched different types of televised violence and the lastgroup watched nothing. When these kids were exposed to a disappointing situation, the first three groups were far more violent than thelast group (www.crf-usa.org). Therefore, any type of televised violence has the exact same effect as the real-world violence does. Isn‟t itparadoxical when most parents are over-protective and yet they let their children watch violent television content? The most significant impact of television violence is becoming immune to the horror of violence. As children watch more violentshows, they become more desensitized. In real life, if a child witnesses a person getting beaten up, or if he is beating someone else up,then he does nothing but watches because the emotions are gone; he is acting like a robot. If not television, then what else can be thecause of desensitization? For example, “Dexter” is one of the most violent shows on television. This guy is a hero of serial killersbecause he does not get caught. Because most parents do not pay attention to the motion picture rating system, their children end upwatching shows like this one. In conclusion, television violence has proved its many detrimental effects on children throughout history with different examples.Evidence proves that each generation becomes more helpless when it comes to solve problems with the use of words, because thetelevision violence convinces them that fighting is a better solution. The two young murderers of the Columbine incident had depersonalized themselves, causing the death of 13 innocent people. Theyalso brought up a great question to the minds of television lovers: is any show on television completely free from the use of violence?