“One of televisions greatest contributions is that it brought murder back into the home where it belongs. Seeing murder on TV can be good therapy, it can work off antagonism.” Alfred Hitchcock.
A survey of violence on TV that was published in 1992 found that by the age of 11 years old, the average child in the US will have seen 8,000 murders on TV. (A. Huston et al., 1992). Studies of prime time TV have shown that if the rate of muder in the night time shows reflected real life in America, it would take 50 days to eliminate the US population (Micheal Medved).
What do you think of Hitchcock’s theory? Does it pan out with how human beings actually behave? For a visual answer to these questions, go the video links on this site and watch “Children see. Children do.”
Does “children see, children do” mean that children who witness murder on TV, murder others? Absolutely not! Children who witness murder, who have access to a gun, and are not supervised – almost never – but sometimes do threaten with or use a gun. Sometimes the consequences are fatal. It is very rare. There is a larger problem with the pervasive violence on TV.
There have been decades of research that consistently show that when people witness violence, a small percentage will react with more aggressive attitudes and more aggressive behavior. People are at risk to believe that violence solves problems or is a last resort. It happens again and again.
But, it is only a small percentage — no big deal. Well, maybe a big deal. Television, movies, video games are everwhere. Nightime TV with on-demand and internet access is not nightime. It is all the time. If 100,000 people witness violence and 1/4 of them react with more aggression then, 25,000 acts of aggression are generated. The media consuming audience is a lot bigger.
Here is the dirty secret: Anderson & Bushman surveyed the social science demonstrating a consistent positive relationship between exposure to violence and violent acts and beliefs. They compared the results to reports in media news outlets about this research over time. They showed that as the strength of the research proving this relationship goes up the news reports go down in frequency and accuracy. Bushman & Anderson (2001) “Media Violence and the American Public: Scientific Facts Versus Media Misinformation” published in the American Psychologist, Vol. 56. I am fairly confident that these findings would only be stronger.
Adults and Children Together Against Exposure to Violence: Raising Safe Kids.