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How Television Images Affect Children

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How Television Images Affect Children

by Ron Kaufman

"[A nursery school teacher told me] her children were crudely bopping each other much more than previously, without provocation. When she remonstrated with them, they would protest, "But that 's what the Three Stooges do." This attitude did not signify a serious undermining of character. But it certainly showed me that watching violence can lower a child 's standards of behavior. Recent psychological experiments have shown that watching brutality stimulates at least slight cruelty in adults, too."
-- Dr. Benjamin Spock, from the book Baby and Child Care, 1968

Fifty-seven percent of television programs contain "psychologically harmful" violence, according to a study funded by the cable television industry. The study, released February 7, 1996, tracked 2,500 hours of television programming. This was the largest sample ever analyzed by researchers.

Oh, that 's ridiculous! Television is not harmful, it 's just entertainment.

But can the steady flow of images watched nightly from television screens across the country be so easily dismissed as simply entertainment? If the sheer volume of absorbed images is considered, how can what is shown on television have no effect on one 's own mental images? And if new mental images are created, shouldn 't it be logical to say that they can have an effect on behavior?

But the argument that television has a significant effect on children should not rely on studies alone, but on common
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