How much television do you, or your children, watch in an average day? According to a 2010 research study looking at television watching in young children, American children spend about 4.5 hours each day watching television. While researchers have been looking at how television watching affects children for as long as television has existed, we still don’t have clear about what impact it actually has.
There have always been concerns over the potentially harmful effects of media violence on children Frederic Wertham’s crusade against violence in comic books led to the creation of the Comics Code and a major overhauling of the entire printing industry. Ironically, Wertham’s attempts to do the same with television violence led to his downfall as a media critic. Even then, television violence was a can of worms nobody felt inclined to open.
Can watching violence on television actually influence how children behave? Even since Albert Bandura’s classic Bobo doll experiments in 1961 and 1963, the role of social modeling in influencing violent behaviour in children has been a controversial topic for researchers and parents alike. Ethical concerns have limited the kind of research that can be done with children to test the impact of media violence on them. Still, the link between televisionwatching and violence seems strong even when alternative explanations are ruled out.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today post.