Switch off those violent scenes
Excessive violence on the television can develop the ‘mean-world
syndrome’ in children, who start perceiving the world as a malicious and
dangerous place, writes Nutan Sehgal
- Some years ago, in a bid to imitate the heroics of TV hero Shaktimaan, a Class VI Bhubaneshwar boy suffocated to death after tying a towel around his neck and hanging himself from a ceiling fan.
- Another Mumbai kid lost his life when he thought he could bungee jump like a model in a popular soft drink ad.
- A TV ad featuring two women in different cars racing to claim the last spot in a crowded car park created a major fuss in Australia as people felt it was highly irresponsible and glamorised road rage, especially among children and adolescent viewers.
the fact that considerable research is going into the issue of
violence in films and television, hardly any concrete steps are
being taken to contain it or draw up a code of conduct. Most
parents think that children watch films and TV shows for fun.
But little do they realise that many scenes may contain hidden
messages of violence that can scar a young person’s
According to a new research published by the US
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in
Bethesda, Maryland, violent images make teenagers more prone to
aggressive behaviour. The study used 22 boys aged between 14 and
17 while they viewed four-second video clips of violent scenes
taken from 60 different videos.
Parents must teach children to differentiate between the real and the make-believe world.
Studies have revealed that an increasing number of girls are showing a marked
predilection for violent programmes. Thinkstockphotos/ Getty Images
Dr Maren Strenziok, team
leader of the study, says that aggressive media makes young
people less sensitive to violence, which, in turn, promotes
aggressive attitudes and behaviour.
The response to violent
images is the same across the world. Studies in India show that
kids who watch violent film and TV shows can grow up to become
aggressive adults. Even seemingly innocuous cartoon shows like Swat
Cats, Dragon Ballz, MIB, Johnny Quest and crime serials like
VIP and CIS have become the new icons of TV
violence to be imitated in real life.
But research suggests
that more than anything it is a high dose of film-based
programmes that is most harmful for kids. "Violent films
can have a far-reaching effect on children,"says
psychiatrist Dr Satish Parthasarthy. "Parents must
discourage children from watching senseless violence in films
and television shows as it has a distinct negative effect on
their personality when they grow up," he adds.
research, two groups of children aged between six and eight were
confined to different rooms. In one room, the group was shown a
TV programme in which a girl of their age was shown kicking and
screaming at a doll. The other group of kids in the next room
was shown a girl of their age playing lovingly with her doll.
Next day the children were given a doll each and individually
confined to a room and their behaviour was observed. Those, who
had seen the images of a girl screaming and kicking the doll,
displayed similar violence to the doll given to them, while
those, who had seen images of the girl playing with her doll,
displayed similar tender emotions.In
any case, says the psychiatrist, the children must be taught to
differentiate between the real and the makebelieve world. The
parents or other adults should make it clear to kids how
television stereotypes distort reality or why a film character
behaves in a way that is not consistent with normal values or
why the story writer has used violence in a particular situation
without trying to find a nonviolent solution.
studies reveal that an increasing number of young girls are
showing a marked predilection for violence on TV and films. The
scenes they enjoy most is when the hero bashes up the baddie.
What is notable here is that girls tend to justify the violence
in the scenes saying that it symbolises a triumph of good over
A study by the Centre for Media and Public Affairs
states that despite the high volume of televised violence,
children rarely see it causing adverse effects. A majority of
such serials never showed the hero lose an arm, leg or get
killed on screen. In reality, with as much gunplay that appears
on TV, main characters should also get shot. The "bad
guy" can get shot, killed, burned or maimed, but never the
hero. In fact, the hero can really be as violent has he/she
on television, too, can have a negative impact on a child’s
psyche. Studies reveal that while 20 per cent of children start
channel surfing when ads are being aired, about 80 per cent stay
glued to their TV sets and get influenced by these ads. However,
their minds are not developed enough to understand, whether the
product is necessary for their family or whether their parents
can afford it. If the parents can’t, it creates discord in
families, which is another kind of violence.
danger of television violence on a child’s psyche comes in
families where very young kids are given a free hand to watch
what they like on the small screen. In such a scenario, the
small screen becomes a kind of a baby-sitter and a replacement
for quality time with parents. Children, who spend their
after-school time alone because parents work, are at the
greatest risk as television assumes the role of a teacher, which
can grip the mind of the young person.
Thus, it is not just the
responsibility of parents and teachers but more so of the policy
planners, who must take the initiative of changing the ongoing
scenario. Steps must be initiated to re-invigorate the
partnership of producers and broadcasters to enhance the
intellectual development of films and TV programmes.
there is a film censor board, experts are of the view that
television, too, needs effective censorship that must govern
advertisements and serial makers. If these people fail to check
themselves then there should be an independent body having
representatives from all sections of the society, which should
decide whether certain programmes should be aired or not.
many crime-based programmes, says Dr Parthasarthy, violence is
shown and seen as a means of resolving problems, and reaching
goals. Very few television programs actually focus and emphaside
on anti-violence themes. This is where the role of parents,
teachers and government bodies becomes crucial. Children should
be disabused of this notion and clearly told that violence never
Most experts say that since television cannot be wished
away, very young children should be encouraged to watch
programmes with their parents or elder siblings. Unregulated
viewing is risky and must be stopped for the good of the
children. — NF