When I turned the TV on for the first evening, I was assaulted by violent images.
On a CSI program, a magician was burned to death in a booth and images of his charred body were shown over and over again. Since they wanted to figure out if the dead man was the magician or his son, the investigator cut off the dead man’s finger to take a fingerprint. Yuck.
Next I watched “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” More blood and guts. Then a “lifeless” Meredith was pulled from Puget Sound.
The despicable display of violence in movies and television has always concerned me. I’ll never forget taking my daughters, ages 14 and 11, to the second Star Wars movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” in 1980. We also saw “Dune” that year, which was terribly violent. I wondered, Who thought up this junk and why are they allowed to put it on the big screen for children to see?
Over the years, I’ve written numerous columns on the topic of how violent images affect kids. Instead of things getting better, violence in the media gets worse and worse.
Kids 8 to 18 years old watch an average of four or more hours of television a day, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. They spend another three and a half hours on other entertainment media, including computers and cell phones.
As early as the 1960s, studies reported that watching violence can make children more aggressive.
The American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and National Institute of Mental Health have all linked violent TV and movies with aggressive behavior in some young people.
Watching violence can also leave children fearful or make them less sensitive to real violence and its consequences. It’s estimated that young people see about 10,000 violent acts on television each year, reports the University of Pittsburgh’s “TV and Movie Violence – Why Watching It Is Harmful to Children.”
Now the Academy Awards nominations have been made for the best movies of 2009. Last year I wrote I hoped we’d have better, less violent movies in 2009.
I’ve only seen a few of the nominations. I plan to view more of them and write reviews. It would be great if the Academy Award nominees are better, less violent movies, but I’m expecting more of the same. I’ll let you know my opinions.