The Tribune - Spectrum

, April 7, 2002

Watch out for what children watch on TV

Children should not watch TV unsupervised
Children should not watch TV unsupervised

THE ‘bang-bang you’re dead’ scenario that we so often see on TV or in films communicates nothing about the reality of death or dying. Media violence is typically unrealistic, simplistic, glorified and even presented as humorous. Despite the debate the subject of violence on television has generated, television has been labeled a culprit.

When a five-year-old girl in Norway was beaten senseless in 1994 by three small boys and left to freeze to death, a Swedish satellite TV network stopped the TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on March 24, 1998, four school-age girls and a teacher were killed in a schoolyard during a false fire alarm. The two boys responsible for this act were only 11 and 13. On December 1, 1997, three students were killed and five injured as a fourteen-year-old opened fire on a prayer circle in West Paducah, Kentucky. These are only a few examples of the increasing violence recently seen in younger children.

Television producers feel the need to show violence on television for two reasons. The first is that they feel it is the only way to retain the audiences’ attention. Higher viewer interest brings them higher ratings and advertisers are willing to pay more money for advertisement spots. The second reason is that if they have the audiences’ attention and are making money the station will continue to beam violent shows.


We love TV and watch a lot of it, and yet our pleasure is tainted by a profound sense of unease. What is TV doing to us? Dr Sunita Gupta (Psychology Dept, GNDU) says," There is no doubt that violence in media lays the foundation of aggression in children. Not only this, research has concluded that excessive watching also causes many physiological problem, some of which may appear in later life".

Here is what you, as a responsible parent, can do to counter the influence of the media.

Raise your children to resist violence

Research has shown that violent or aggressive behaviour is often learned early in life. However, parents, family members, and others who care for children can help them learn to deal with emotions without using violence. Parents and others can also take steps to reduce or minimise violence.

Give your children consistent love and attention

Every child needs a strong, loving, relationship with a parent or some other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust. Behaviour problems and delinquency are less likely to develop in children whose parents are involved in their lives, especially, at an early age.

Supervise them

Without proper supervision, children do not receive the guidance they need. Studies report that unsupervised children often have behaviour problems. Insist on knowing where your children are at all times and who their friends are.

Show your children appropriate behaviours by the way you act

Children often learn by example. The behaviour, values, and attitudes of parents and siblings have a strong influence on children. Remember to praise your children in a way that they learn to solve problems constructively, without violence. Children are more likely to repeat good behaviour when they are rewarded with attention and praise. Parents sometimes encourage aggressive behaviour without realising it. For example, some parents think it is good for a boy to learn to fight. And most importantly, don’t hit your children.

Be consistent about rules and discipline

When you make a rule, stick to it. Setting rules and then not enforcing them is confusing and encourages children to see what they can get away with. Adapt your approach to the age of the child. With younger children rules could be set without much discussion. But when the child enters adolescence, allow them to make more of their own decisions. Also, be prepared for the possibility that, for your children’ sake you may have to change your own TV-viewing habits.

Keep violence out of your home

Violence in the home can be frightening and harmful to children. A child who has seen violence at home does not always become violent, but he or she may be more likely to try to resolve conflicts with violence. Keep in mind as well that hostile, aggressive arguments between parents frighten children and set a bad example for them.

Try to not expose your children to too much violence in the media

As a parent, you can control the amount of violence your children see in the media. Here are some ideas:

Limit television-viewing time to 1 to 2 hours a day.

Make sure you know what TV shows your children watch, which movies they see, and what kinds of video games they play.

Talk to your children about the violence that they see on TV shows, in the movies, and in video games.

Help them understand how painful it would be in real life and the serious consequences that follow violent behaviours.

Discuss with them way to solve problems without violence.

Help your children stand up against violence

Help them understand that it takes more courage and leadership to resist violence than to go along with it.

Help your children accept and get along with others from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Warn your children that bullying and threats can be set-up for violence.

Of concern to many is not what television is doing but what it isn’t doing. Dr Sunita Gupta says, "This medium has the most powerful ability to shape our perception. It can educate its audience, combat stereotypes, and provide models of pro-social behaviour and attitudes". But for the most part television, and other media too, have not picked up the challenge.

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