- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The
temptation is everywhere -- glitzy music videos, funny sitcoms, dramatic
movies. But when even cartoons are violent, and the commercials shown
how can parents protect their children?
- Short of getting rid of the television set, experts
sit down and watch the programs with them.
- "Parents being with their children while they are
watching is always a good thing," Jeffrey Johnson of Columbia
in New York, whose study linking hours of television watched with violence
later in life will be published on Friday, said in a telephone
- Johnson's study, published in the journal Science, finds
that children who watched more than an hour of TV a day, on average, were
four times more likely than children who watch less television to commit
- Johnson says all kinds of programs are to blame, because
even something that seems innocuous to an adult will look violent to a
child. "Even if it is something like 'The Wizard of Oz' -- some
can be traumatized by things that wouldn't seem traumatic to an
- Parents probably cannot bar their children from watching
such shows but should start an early habit of watching alongside, Johnson
- "They can help the children to understand and help
answer some of their questions," he said. "The recommendations
of the American Academy of Pediatrics are sound -- they are that parents
shouldn't let their children watch more than one to two hours of TV a
- The average child watches four hours of television a
day, according to the New York University Child Study Center.
- The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological
all agree that violence in the media is related to aggression in real
- This includes the news, Johnson said.
- "One thing I did find of great concern was that
when I learned that the networks were repeatedly showing the images of
the planes crashing into the (World Trade Center) towers (on September
11) ... and that they only stopped when some of the family's victims
with them to stop," he said.
- IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS
- "That was indicative to me of the problem that we
have. If it bleeds, it leads. That is the problem. Someone in a position
of responsibility needs to think about the consequences of repeatedly
events that could traumatize the nation."
- Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University
who wrote a commentary on Johnson's report, said he doubted this would
- "The media entertainment industries have a vested
interest in denying to the general public, to elected officials, and even
to themselves the possibility that their products might cause harmful
in a significant portion of the population, much as the tobacco industry
has a vested interest in denying harmful effects of their products,"
Anderson said in an interview conducted by e-mail.
- But he said parents can fight back by educating their
- "It appears that one needs to teach children
- * What they see is neither real nor realistic
- * That real aggression really does hurt people, their
- * That aggressive solutions are not acceptable
- * That they should try to figure out possible solutions
to viewed problems that are nonviolent, cooperative, helpful
- * That aggression by 'good guys' against 'bad guys' is
- * That watching violent material does hurt them,"
- "The best way to teach this is for parents to watch
the shows with their children and to discuss these issues as they arise.
This is particularly important when the children are allowed to watch
that contains violence in it, including Saturday morning cartoons and
movies, as well as the more obvious violent TV programs."
- Johnson said there is another incentive to limit TV
noting that many studies show a clear link between an epidemic of obesity
and hours spent watching television.
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