The Pro & Cons of TV Violence

Written by ben orlando
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The Pro & Cons of TV Violence
The results of violence on television. (violence image by sasha from

Violence has been a part of television for as long as television has existed, and throughout this relationship scientists and scholars have studied how violent programming affects viewers, both young and old. The conclusions of these studies are not black and white, and instead point to both positive and negative consequences to watching violence on TV.

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TV Violence Reinforces Violent Solutions

Many studies show a correlation between television violence and learnt violent behaviour in humans, especially children. In 1994, The Independent published an article discussing the relationship between television violence and real-life violence. Author Raj Persuad wrote that television "is bound to teach children over time that violence is a viable and acceptable solution to problems in life." Time and again, television characters face major and minor problems, and their solutions frequently involve violence because violence is considered to be more interesting to watch than passive mediation. According to this viewpoint, when viewers, especially children, venture out into the real world they will first consider violence rather than safer solutions, because they have the pattern ingrained in their minds.

TV Violence Desensitizes People to Violence

People have a natural instinctual aversion to violence. According to a 2007 study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, "most people have an automatic aversive emotional response to scenes of violence, often assessed by changes in heart rate and skin conductance. Such negative emotional responses help inhibit aggressive behaviour and inspire helping behaviour." But the study adds that people exposed to violent television showed reduce skin conductance and heart rate reactivity when facing real-life violence. Thus, the study suggests, the act of watching simulated violence inhibits people's ability to react naturally and effectively to actual violence and this inhibition may lead to serious problems in dealing with real-world problems.

TV Violence Teaches Children about Consequences

Through watching violence on television programs and news broadcasts, children can learn about the world. They can gain an understanding of problems so that they can better prepare for finding solutions. But watching violence on television can also teach them about the consequences of violent acts. Jib Fowles, author of a book touting the benefits of TV violence, believes most television shows teach children that good will prevail over evil and that crime doesn't pay. If children know about prison, vengeance, fines and all the other negative after-effects of violent acts, Fowles argues that they are less likely to commit violent acts in real life.

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