Televised violence can in some cases be harmless, mainly because film directors overstress it to the point where it becomes obvious that it cannot possibly take place in real life. When it is presented in a way that makes it even more real violence can be very harmful. “Reviews of the effects literature have concluded that exposure to television violence portrayed with particular contextual characteristics can lead to such negative effects as fear, desensitization, and disinhibition” (Potter, and Smith 301). The negative effect of televised violence is apparently highlighted by graphicness, as people are influenced to a larger degree if what they see on television is explicit. Images of blood and gore can be much more harmful when presented in a high-detail vivid nature (Potter, and Smith 301). As the level of realness increases, the level of shock also increases, making it possible for viewers to feel as if they were actually part of the television program. Explicitness is closely related to violence when seen from a viewers perspective, given that an individual is likely to consider a particular scene as being more violent if the respective footage is very graphic. Because graphicness draws audiences through the fact that it straightforwardly replicates reality, viewers feel that the violent behavior they see is more powerful than the one they normally see and are thus distressed (Potter, and Smith 301).
Because young people and small children in particular are more vulnerable to being influenced by sex and violence seen on television, it is essential for them to be carefully assisted by their tutors and for the tutors to be experienced in knowing exactly what is and what is not likely to negatively influence children. Violence is more complex than most people think it is. For example, children are predisposed to being influenced by attractive individuals committing acts of aggression. In contrast, upon seeing unattractive people committing acts of violence, children are less likely to want to replicate in real life what they saw on television. Young people are accustomed to being assisted in putting across an effective interpretation regarding a particular matter. Parents are usually the ones who help their children in trying to thoroughly comprehend what they see. “While evidence exists that exposure to justified violence increases the likelihood that viewers will act aggressively (Paik & Comstock, 1994), more research is needed that looks at the effects of justified violence on normative beliefs about aggression” (Krcmar). As children develop, they become better prepared to understand television programs and eventually even to identify with the characters they see. However, their visual attention is also increased on the topic of violence. As a child grows up, he or she is more predisposed to devising violent-heroic fantasies than he or she was when he or she was younger. Because most heroes shown on television appear to save the day through using physical force in violently beating their adversaries, children get the feeling that they too can solve a great deal of problems by behaving aggressively. A childs reaction to televised violence is also more intense when the respective child is older.
Family communication is the key to teaching a child how he or she should interpret what he or she sees on television (Krcmar). “Rubinstein (1983) found that although there was much parental concern about the levels of sex and violence on television, parents exerted a relatively low level of control over what their children watched” (Hough, and Erwin 412). Through being desensitized consequent to seeing innumerable acts of violence on television, people feel less reserved on the subject.
The more television access children have, the more likely they are to see a greater number of sex and violence scenes. “On British television, for example, an estimated average of one violent scene occurs every 16 min” (Hough, and Erwin 411). Teachers and educators have reported that children have become increasingly aggressive during the recent decades. It is very dubious that this happened concomitantly with televisions rise in influence (Hough, and Erwin 411).
Even though the government is usually one of the main methods of controlling television programs, it too is limited because it cannot effectively take out all of the violence and sex from programs believed to have a negative influence on individuals. Television directors know that sex and violence are two of the main reasons for which audiences gather in large numbers and thus feel motivated to try to put them on display through every means possible (Selnow, and Gilbert 81).
The government is even more unable to efficiently deal with televisions because it is often condemned by various program directors as behaving immorally and censoring scenes that (in their opinion) actually have positive effects on audiences. In truth of fact, these individuals care less for the well-being of their audiences and “are in reality protecting their profits (i.e., by not alienating advertisers, who are frequently targets of threatened consumer boycotts engineered by citizens groups offended by certain content)” (Himmelstein 18). Television is an industry primarily interested in selling and (similar to the tobacco industry-for example) most televisions share little interest in the mental health of their viewers.
Most people mainly fail in their fight with television because they believe that the only way to emerge triumphantly from this situation is to abandon watching television. However, this is not absolutely necessary, as even children (if they are carefully taught) can become able to chose educative programs in favor of programs that they believe will have a negative effect on them (Gunter, and McAleer 217).
Gunter, Barrie and Harrison, Jackie. Violence on Television: An Analysis of Amount, Nature, Location, and Origin of Violence in British Programmes (London: Routledge, 1998).
Gunter, Barrie; Harrison, Jackie and Wykes, Maggie. Violence on Television: Distribution, Form, Context, and Themes (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003).
Potter, W. James and Smith, Stacy. “The Context of Graphic Portrayals of Television Violence,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 44.2 (2000): 301.
Krcmar, Marina. “The Contribution of Family Communication Patterns to Childrens Interpretations of Television Violence,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 42.2 (1998).
Hough, Kirstin J. And Erwin, Philip G. “Childrens Attitudes toward Violence on Television,” Journal of Psychology131.4.