Its Saturday morning and its already started. Ninja Turtles on Harleys, Power Rangers that are half human and half machine are blasting from the TV set with a smash or an explosion; years ago it would have been Superman or a Mouseketeer saving the day. Saturday morning cartoons, Americas babysitter, features 32 acts of violence per hour. This figure is up from 12 acts per hour just twenty years ago. People may ask, has television always been this way? What is the problem with television programming today? What has caused these changes over the past fifty years? Well, lets look back in time and try to find the answers to these questions.
People have always been concerned about television violence. In fact since the beginning of television in the 1950s, the government has always worried about the influence that television would have on the public. I think they hoped it would be a great educational invention. When television first became available, very few people had one. There wasnt much on and the shows were mostly seen in the afternoons and evenings. It was in black and white and the screens were small. I dont think that anyone realized the impact that television would have on America. The first shows were comedies like I Love Lucy or shows about "perfect little families" that never fought like Lassie or Father Knows Best. There were shows about heroes that were really heroes like the Lone Ranger, where good always won out over evil, and Quiz shows that tested your knowledge.
By the 1960s all that changed. Fifty million people had television sets in their homes. The 60s was considered a rebellious time period. There were violent demonstrations, presidential assassinations and the Vietnam War. It was the increased development of technology in television broadcasting that brought it all to us right in our living rooms. That is why the Vietnam War was called the "living room war". For the first time we were actually able to sit at home and have the world brought to us. We were able to witness tens of thousands of people getting shot while we ate our dinner. I think that this was the beginning of the desensitization of people to violence.
Studies were done to find out just what kind of an effect television was having on children. The researchers found that television contained too much violence. Fighting, shooting guns and murder were common and were on more than half of the television programs that children watched. In 1975 an official Family Hour was created as a result of talks between the broadcasters, Congress and the FCC. The networks agreed to set aside the time between eight and nine in the evening when shows should contain appropriate content for all ages. The First Amendment was used by the lawyers for the television networks to get rid of the Family Hour because it restricted what the broadcasters were allowed to show. The Family Hour was dropped in 1976. This was only the beginning of what the government would attempt do to stop television violence. It wouldnt be until 1991, when a man named Tim Collings came up with the idea of the V-Chip. Congress and President Clinton passed the law that by the year 2,000 every new TV would have a V-Chip in it.This device would help parents electronically block out violent television.
Soon kids spent more time watching TV then reading comic books, playing with other kids, using their imaginations, or playing outside! So, in conclusion it is quite clear that television does have strong impact on children.
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