There are many parents who don’t monitor or care what their children watch on tv. They allow children to have tv’s in their room. They think as long as the child is staying out of trouble, it doesn’t matter. This is wrong.
Young children have a difficult time telling fact from fiction. Especially today with all the real crime dramas that often mimic events shown on the news. Sometimes, it can even be hard for an adult to tell a short clip of one of these shows from a news clip. Children do not yet have the discretion to tell them apart. As such, they assume it is all real. Yet they do not understand the consequences of real violence are real and permanent.
Children learn by example. If they constantly see violence, they will subconsciously become hardened against it. They will also mimic what they see. If they see violence on a daily basis as an acceptable way for a character to get what they want, that is what they will do too. Just compare the play of groups of children who watch violent tv to those who either don’t watch violent shows or watch no tv at all. There is a marked difference. This difference continues over into adulthood. Only instead of sticks and play guns, it is real clubs and handguns.
This was shown to me today. I brought my children to a park after church. It was one we hadn’t been to before, located in an area of rent subsidized low income housing. I’m not saying that having a low income means you will have violent children, however, they are more often allowed to watch violent tv. The girls wanted to play house. However, their idea of playing house was full of verbal abuse, swear words against the “child” from the “mom”, hitting, and other domestic violence. They thought this was fun. All 4 other girls took turns being the mom and the violent parenting style was shown by each of them. They may have been acting out home situations, but also may have been imitating what they see on tv.
If you only show violence, children think this is normal behavior. They don’t know any better. After a few minutes of this, my kids came over and told me it was time to go to another park. My kids who are not exposed to tv or home violence did not think this was fun or normal. They knew it was wrong and didn’t want to be around it.
Being a conservative Christian mom, I also have to consider Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Video game and TV violence falls short of this standard. Therefore, we should not allow them.
So what can you do to protect your kids against tv violence other than banning tv? Monitor the shows they watch. You don’t have to stay in the room with them all the time, but check them periodically to be sure the show isn’t violent and to make sure they are still watching the show you expect them to be. Explain to the kids why you won’t allow violent shows. Do not allow tv in the kids room. You are less able to monitor what they are watching. Limit the time spent each day watching tv. Finally, have other activities available for them to do if there is nothing without violence on tv so they aren’t watching it anyway out of boredom.