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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Can watching television make you violent?
Children who watch more than an hour of TV a day are more likely to be violent, according to a US study.

The research was carried out by Jeffrey Johnson, of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The findings show that of children who watched less than an hour of television a day at the age of 14, only 5.7% turned to violence between the ages of 16 and 22.

For those who watched between one and three hours, this jumped to 22.8%.

However, Guy Cumberbatch, from the Communications Research Group in the UK, claims the study is "flawed".

He says that so few children watch less than an hour of television a day that it is unfair to use them as a basis of comparison.

Can watching television make you violent in later life? Should we restrict children's access to TV?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I'd rather kids were sitting at home watching TV than out on the streets 'entertaining themselves' by stealing cars, doing drugs, vandalising property and harassing passers by. I'm sure you'd get a more realistic idea of which kids are likely to be violent if you looked at which parents let their children roam free, and which actually knew where their child was during the evening.
Rachel, UK

I guess that means Gary Bushell is a walking time bomb.

TV does have some influence on violent conduct but you can't blame TV for all violent influence. I recall a letter to Points of View quite a while ago in which one lady said Eastenders used to be a family show - now it is just murder, rape and cheating on your partner. Well, if you think that is the case don't let your kids watch. An earlier comment said "does football make you greedy?", so does watching golf encourage violence? No, unless a golfer hits someone round the head with a club/
Todd Baker, England

Adding a few more bad apples to the barrel makes for a rotten result

Cedric, USA
Yes and Yes! There was a Canadian study a few years back that pretty much proved that violent TV causes a shift in the "bell curve" of violent behaviour. The bulk of aggressive behaviour being in the middle moved little, but the same little shift quickly doubles or triples the small group of highly violent people. Crime is an area where statistical analysis is very important because so much crime is caused by so few people. Adding a few more bad apples to the barrel makes for a rotten result.
Cedric, USA

More to the point, the cartoons these days are not a patch on the ones I watched when I was growing up. Keep playing the smurfs constantly and then peace and love will reign supreme!
Chris Glover, belgium

We have not had a TV in our house for 33 years. Our 6 sons have not shown much aggression.
Rich R, Detroit, USA

I think TV does make us more violent, and more sexually promiscuous too. For example, there's nothing I'd like more right now than to cave the heads in of the people I don't agree with on this board with a big nasty hammer!
B Roberts, UK

Well said Alan Olsen. TV does not make people violent. I thought that was poverty and despair? (see Talking Points on the Middle East). And oh, by the way, for those who want to know why companies pay so much for advertising. Because a commercial for a product is supposed to be rooted in reality. Hence the false advertising lawsuits if you're purposely misleading in your ad. This gives companies the opportunity to advertise to a huge number of people the features, advantages, and benefits of their product.
Sam, USA

Well, I must admit having to endure so many makeover programs and repeats is making me feel a little bit tetchy...
D Jones, UK

If people just take care of their kids and teach them right and wrong instead of letting the TV do it, then they won't have to find scapegoats for my generation's behaviour

Padrick, USA
I'm a 17 year-old who's been playing videogames since I was about ten or eleven. Yes, some are violent. But that hasn't affected me. I make good grades, I volunteer twice a week, I have plenty of friends. I've never been in a fight, never been arrested, and the only detention I've ever gotten was when I was a couple seconds late to class once. Why? Because my parents have done a good job of raising me. If people just take care of their kids and teach them right and wrong instead of letting the TV do it, then they won't have to find scapegoats for my generation's behaviour.
Padrick, USA

Tuning in to watch a favourite programme only to find it rescheduled or cancelled to make way for endless hours of sycophantic reports that the mood outside the home of a deceased Centenarian is 'sombre' is enough to try my patience almost to the point of violence.
RobP, UK

Sure it affects everyone with an abnormally low I.Q. or anyone with trouble discerning reality and fantasy. These "studies" are usually considered white noise by everyone in the US. Want your children to live a happy normal life? Be involved with them, be around, be a good parent, don't use television as a baby-sitter. Those are the best ways to avoid raising a serial killer.
Rahjur, USA, Detroit

Blewyn (UK) - "a child watching 4 hours of television a day learns nothing about sharing, compromise and cooperation"? So it's teaching kids not to grow up as mediocre losers then! That's good! I thought you were saying that TV watching was supposed to be a problem!
Simon Moore, UK

I am guessing then that the censors are the most violent of all. There could be some truth in it though. If I have to watch another episode of Kilroy I may get extremely violent.
Richard Carr, UK

I have banned my children from watching a number of programmes - including the BBC's own Eastenders

W J Andrews, England
Without doubt - television can have a very real influence on young children. This applies in particular where the television is used as a replacement for family life - i.e. the parent sits the child in front of the telly instead of playing with and talking to the child. Many programmes, including those aimed at children, seem to promote the ideas of rudeness and bad manners. I have seen some really appalling behaviour and language and use of the English language by the presenters of children's programmes which seem to be aimed solely at getting the young viewers as hyped up as possible. This is certainly manifesting in the behaviour of children at schools where there are an increasing number of children who are out of control with absolutely no idea of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. These kids have two things in common - TVs in their bedroom and with unlimited access to as much television as they want, and parents (or parent) with no idea of how control their children. I have banned my children from watching a number of programmes - including the BBC's own Eastenders, one of a number of programmes that that should be screened post 9pm not pre 9pm.
W J Andrews, England

Complete and utter garbage. The only reason people say that watching TV makes kids violent is that it provides a convenient excuse to cover up the real reason. Kids turn out violent because they have bad parents! It's a bit like the "food additives make you hyper-active" argument. It's a convenient cover up for "I can't discipline my kids properly". Interesting to note that the media went to great lengths to try to find evidence that serial killer Fred West was into watching violent videos, and when his rental history was examined at the local video shop, it was discovered that he had never once rented a horror film, but he was a big fan of Disney.
Simon Moore, UK

Yes, I frequently have violent urges after watching TV. If I put aside an itching to murder Ant & Dec, Cilla Black or any host of "celebrities" which litter our screens, I am wildly frustrated at not being able to sail forth and blast Bonapartist ships out of the water or lead a cavalry charge against the Imperial Guard. But I will just have to refrain from watching Hornblower or any programmes on the Napoleonic Wars. (Sadly, none of these on the BBC)
Peter Sykes, UK

Well, it is true that until the TV was invented, we lived in a utopian world that never knew war, there was no rape, murder, child abuse or any other form of violence. We lived in a world of warm beer and vicars cycling to church across the village green. Here's an alternative, maybe, as Pete from Canada suggests, those with a propensity for violence will tend to gravitate towards violent entertainment.
Niall, Scotland

I think that TV does make you violent. I recall a letter to Points Of View asking if they would stop showing Tom and Jerry as the writer's six year old son was chasing the cat around with a hammer!
Tom, UK

If watching TV does not affect our behaviour why do the ad men pay so much to show their products? If a few seconds of an advert can persuade us to buy something we do not really want and do not need, how much greater effect will the hundreds of instances of violence placed before us day by day have?
Barry P, England

Can watching football make you greedy?
Henry, England

Television has absolutely nothing to do with the violence of children. Me & my brothers watched TV quite a lot when I was younger and we turned out fine. Violence is normally developed in children whom have either in a broken home or all that they have seen while they are growing up is violence either with parents or peers.
Jessica Slade, UK

If you look at the vast majority of cases, TV is a harmless, restful and enjoyable pastime

Richard Murray, UK
What very few people have taken into account is that it is the content that matters rather than the length of time spent watching. It also brings to attention the question of "what else is there to do?" It also seems necessary to point out that the children who are "made more violent" are usually going to be violent whether they watch television or not. Maybe some kids watch Power Rangers and then take things too far afterwards, but if you look at the vast majority of cases, TV is a harmless, restful and enjoyable pastime.
Richard Murray, UK

Surely the questions are all down to upbringing and parental teaching. If a child is within a good home and is brought up well by parents who actively teach right from wrong, TV will have little effect. In a home on more troubled estates or where there are broken homes, though, surely children are only too ready to be influenced by TV. Look at these kids walking around in Slip Knot (heavy metal band, parental guidance etc) t-shirts, aged about 12. I hardly think they're great admirers of the harmony or voice vibrato in their songs... it shows how kids can be easily sucked in.
Andy, UK

Can eating junk food make you fat?
Evans Munyeemesha, USA/Zambian

My parents let me watch all the shows on TV and play the violent video games when I was younger. I'm currently studying engineering and the worst thing I've ever done is get a speeding ticket. The reason is I had good parents. One parent stayed at home with us and taught us right and wrong instead of letting other kids in a dare care teach us.
David Peterson, USA

There is much more violence and other negative stuff on TV due to the fact that program makers need to keep people interested

There is much more violence and other negative stuff on TV due to the fact that program makers need to keep people interested, and it's a lot easier to do that by using "strong" stuff like violence. It's a lot harder to make good programs without violence and confrontational behaviour, (it's the same with tabloid newspapers). A person's life,(values, ideas, beliefs, desires etc.) is nowadays mainly dictated by what they hear/see/read, and that means mostly TV. Anyone who thinks TV has no effect on us should ask them selves why so many companies think it's worth spending £50,000 for a 30 second spot on TV? TV provides a large proportion of our total life experience nowadays. We perceive a violent world on TV and therefore the world (people) tends to become more violent.

Well, when taken to excess it certainly can give someone a thoroughly dull mind and a huge waistline.
Stephen, USA

There were times far more violent than we live in now before TV was invented

Steve B, Scotland
A report a few years ago concluded that TV did not influence children to violence. One of the reports is flawed. There were times far more violent than we live in now before TV was invented. What surprises me is how nobody seems to link the trend away from smacking children or allowing corporal punishment in schools to the rising child crime and violence figures. Our political correctness doesn't appear to be working but nobody seems to be saying so. Instead it's easier to blame computer games or cartoons.
Steve B, Scotland

Can watching television make you violent in later life? Watching the programs, no. But the commercials make me homicidal at times. Both in content and especially the frequency and timing of their airing.
David Guay, USA

I've never heard so much nonsense. You could just as easily draw a link between violence and baseball caps. Or tatoos. Or short haircuts. Or listening to Radio 1. Come off it!
Matt, England

The study only focused on young white Catholics. Are they the violent group in society? The sample is not a fair representation of all our generation's children, and therefore cannot be generalized to such a diverse population.
Chris, USA

Thinking people are that gullible makes you want to hurt someone

Alan Olsen, USA
Watching TV only makes for violence under certain circumstances. Seeing your favourite show being replaced by some drek being pushed by a clueless network executive. Having over 100 channels and not being able to find anything worth watching. Programs where "today's moral" is so obvious that only the incredibly stupid could miss it. Shows cut to incomprehensibility to fit in a couple of extra commercials. Studies like this are done by people who already know what results they want and tailor the survey to fit the predetermined outcome. Thinking people are that gullible makes you want to hurt someone.
Alan Olsen, USA

Same thing I told the police. At an early age, older kids who are bad pick on younger kids getting them to do things, saying that they will not get in trouble. The young kids' attitude shifts by older brothers and perhaps sisters, who always get tired of baby-sitting. This goes on through the growing up years until TV may be watched more, just for kids to try and find some peace. They are human and also do not know how to handle this environment. Then they get older and all this 'hate' may come out, and still others will say that is the way the world is or some other comment that plays over and over in the kids mind. Then the TV shows all this crazy stuff also and it is misinterpreted and this shows that kids are not taught how to cope with these situations. Some of it is in fun, no doubt, but the hurt probably lingers on in these young kids that turn to peer pressure to find others to relate to. No, I do not have any personal experience myself, I just seen enough of what is really going on. The TV may be the only entertainment mainly for these kids, and still there are other problems with the kids distancing themselves from others or what they consider ones (older kids) that they will listen to.
Al C., USA

The way they grasp their weapon is almost the same with those hero in a movie does

Cisya, Indonesia
I live in a country that is perhaps now well-known for its terrorism. Sure, there are some aspects that might cause the "terrorist behaviour". But one thing for sure, whenever I see people attack each other, especially on the street, fights among students, I feel like watching TV. The way they grasp their weapon is almost the same with those hero in a movie does. So is the way they threat each other, move, etc. So I believe that TV movies have a great influence on young people's behaviour. But, I think, cruel behaviour on TV, wouldn't influence our children if we never leave the children watch TV unattended. Keep them accompanied when watching television and make them understand that what they watch is way form reality. This would help to prevent them from becoming violent.
Cisya, Indonesia

I have first-hand experience growing up as part of the "Nintendo Generation" with the "Electric Babysitter." Yet I am not a violent person, and I do not do anything associated with violent behaviour. Watching cartoons as a young child, and even when watching more graphically violent movies as a young adult I was not once inclined to be or act violent in the slightest manner, the last time there was an instance where I became even remotely angry was after watching the television, immediately following a news broadcast! It is absurd that anyone can develop violent behaviour with watching a Coyote chase after a Roadrunner. What about the possibility that violent people may have a tendency to watch more television; not an accusation, just a speculation?
Matthew, USA

It is true, to a certain degree, that watching the type of graphically illustrative types of films that we find available today, does harden people to violence and horror. Young children are very impressionable, and it follows that they see things on television, and at the movies, that they may consider as normal. For example, Americans accept that there is a tremendous amount of violent crime in their country. They hardly flinch when they hear about horrific murders; they've heard it all before. However, in the UK we still find it horrific when someone shoots up a school or murders a child. This is because we don't come across it very often. Unfortunately though, because of the amount of detail in newer films, we are beginning to get use to violence. We see very graphic details of news events now and hardly accept that they are real. Violence is becoming part of our society, and some of it must be attributed to the amount of violence that we are subjected to in the media.
PhilT, Oman

It's a simple equation: increased exposure to television violence has the natural effect of desensitising the individual to violent activity and so make him more prone to engage in it himself. What then comes into play is the viewer's level of moral grounding. Is it developed enough to counterbalance the influx of violence? Quite unfortunately, it often isn't. The child who sits in front of the television today is usually still in his formative years. How then can parents compete with the film industry's glamorisation of violence? Restriction. If a study will cause parents around the world to accept this simple truth then a study is necessary. But, of course - as with all studies - there will be exceptions.
Karyn, Barbados

It is not the content watched that causes violent impulses, but the constant reinforcement of instant gratification, provided by the ability to switch channels at will

Blewyn, UK
Most of the respondents on this forum have missed the point. It is not the content watched that causes violent impulses, but the constant reinforcement of instant gratification, provided by the ability to switch channels at will. This kind of immediate control is what makes TV and the internet addictive, and a child conditioned to expect such control will react in an extreme manner when that control is removed, such as when they actually have to interact with other children. A child watching four hours of TV per day is learning nothing about sharing, compromise and cooperation, and everything about satisfying immediate wants and impulses. It is no surprise that such children are unable to regulate their tempers.
Blewyn, UK

Growing up in Manchester 20 years ago we had two games outside of playing football, one was War, the other we called "City versus United"; embryonic football hooliganism. I'm not aware of any of my classmates becoming mass murderers or rapists. Kids were violent a long time before TV was invented.
Oliver Richardson, UK

"According to one study, Japan has almost as much entertainment violence, if not more so, as the United States, yet Japanese society is much less violent. The key may be that Japanese films and TV programs tend to show the consequences of violent acts where American films and TV do not." Taken from a special report on Kids and Violence done recently. Also according to the study even with all the "violence" that kids in Japan are exposed studies have shown that Japanese kids are some of the best behaved in the world.
Terri, USA

So easy to absorb information just by light and sound and surprisingly, the information can be remembered and retrieved. May not trigger violence but has some effect psychologically.
Sherwin, Hong Kong

I'm pretty sick and tired of people blaming television, the internet, society, etc. for their children's' problems. Who bought them the TV? Who lets them watch inappropriate TV shows? Perhaps people should spend less time complaining about the TV or doing senseless studies and more time on interacting with children.
Julia, USA

I think that one gets indifferent to the blood and guts of crime on TV

Gail Christie, Canada
I think that one gets indifferent to the blood and guts of crime on TV. From my own experience, it used to make me sick to see anyone gush blood, but now, in my mind, I just think oh well, at least it's an adult giving up their life and not a child. Imagine bargaining with lives on anyone any age. I think the videos have to take that responsibility as well as the telly...
Gail Christie, Canada

I am a teacher in a wealthy, white, rural part of the United States, and many of my students behave as if they were poor, black, urban gang members as portrayed on music videos. It seems obvious that watching hours of violent trash on TV will have a negative effect on some young people. As well as promoting violence, it seems to promote ill-mannered behaviour and a remarkably short attention span.
Alan Murphy, USA

The percentage of children who don't watch more than an hour of TV a day is so small that this study is effectively saying that these children are below the norm for violent behaviour. To assume that this is due solely to watching less television is very likely to be a spurious correlation. We should ask why it is that they watch less TV - are they prevented by parental action? If so, one might expect such an unusually restricted child to be less aggressive than normal. Perhaps they don't find the programs entertaining. This would tend to isolate them socially from their peers, so they might be more likely to be solitary and passive. A range of other possibilities spring to mind. The study conclusions have confused two coincident unusual behaviours of a small minority with cause and effect, then implied an extrapolation to the majority. This minority of TV deprived, overly passive children may have their own problems coping in a society that is generally more aggressive.
Dave, UK

The study is irrelevant. In that it does not seem to be factoring in the major factor of content. Obviously, there is a massive difference between children's programmes like Grange Hill and the Teletubbies in content. The study does not prove anything by looking just at the time spent watching TV.
David P, UK

Perhaps these people should start asking the Taleban, or the people trying to commit suicide bombs in Israel?

Kelvin, UK
I am totally disinterested in this sort of survey. Perhaps these people should start asking the Taleban, or the people trying to commit suicide bombs in Israel? Are they watching too much TV? The persons who watch too much TV could have other things compared to those who just watch less than 1 hour, too much time, too much boredom or just maybe there are other reasons, "I can't see the forest because there's wood in my eye'.
Kelvin, UK

I think it does because every time I see Anne Robinson, I want to slap her!
Helen, UK

I think there is a lot of evidence to back up the study. Is it not a generally accepted fact that there was no one who was ever violent until television was invented? That is sarcasm by the way.
David Heffron, Glasgow

I think that if anyone is stupid enough to act like "the rock" or "stone cold Steve Austin" then they deserve whatever they get!
Ellen McAdam, England

This is just more rubbish arising from so-called 'research'. It's about time we stop blaming everything for a child's behaviour. The only people who need to be blamed are the parents. When a child is brought up in a safe, loving environment with discipline, they know the difference between right and wrong. The problem with violent children now is that they do not think they are doing anything wrong. What's being shown on TV is irrelevant. It the role of a parent (not the TV station) to monitor what his/her children watch so the parent is still to blame.
Christina, UK

I grew up watching Looney Tunes every Saturday morning. I'm not violent

Sonrisa, Cincinnati, United States
I grew up watching Looney Tunes every Saturday morning. I'm not violent. Same can be said for a lot of other people who grew up watching the same stuff. I think human behaviour - any behaviour - is too complex to be attributed to any one influence. I also think TV gets blamed for too much stuff.
Sonrisa, Cincinnati, United States

It is absolutely clear to me, that there is an very direct and clear link between violence in the media and the growing violence in front of our houses. (Just look at my friends, after they have watched Mission Impossible 2). There is no question whatsoever about this!
Adrien, Nestmann, Germany

To Iain, UK: Adults behaving appallingly night after night is the norm. That's why programs like Eastenders reflect that. It is socially acceptable unfortunately. That's why our society allows it to be that way. I don't personally think that TV has a significant influence in itself on the behaviour of children. More importantly is whether or not the parents are responsible, and are able to discuss and explain program content to their children and ensure that they are not being taken in by fiction - when it is fiction, after all how many times a day are we subjected to images of real violence from the Middle East. Also how many times have we watched the twin towers collapse! To put it in context: I watched a good two hours of TV everyday when I was a child. The last violent episode in my life was at school about 21 years ago, and it was nothing to do with what I had seen on TV the night before.
Andy, UK

Teach kids compassion and respect if you don't want them to be violent. In Japan there's extreme violence in games and TV shows and yet they enjoy a very peaceful society. Stop using television as the scapegoat for the shortcomings of parents and society.
Anthony Martin, Canada

We're saying to our kids that it's ok to watch people being filled with bullets but they can't see people loving each other

Jonathan Bensley, Australia
It never ceases to amaze me how films and television is classified. You can show death/destruction in huge quantities at a relatively early hour even when kids are still watching. You can see people getting shot at, brains blown over walls, etc.... however, when there is any kind of physical intimacy between people on TV, even if it's not explicit at all, it's given a much higher rating and later hours. So we're saying to our kids that it's ok to watch people being filled with bullets but they can't see people loving each other? Something is really messed up in this society!
Jonathan Bensley, Australia

A couple centuries ago, a German writer by the name of Goethe wrote a novel which caused a similar controversy. That novel was "Die Leiden des Jungen Werther" or "The Sorrows of Young Werther." The novel ends with the main character's suicide brought on from the despair of loving one who he could never have. The controversy surrounding this book was largely due to several well-publicized suicides-- students who had recently read the book had apparently engaged in copycat suicides. Artwork which is a product of our time may have the same perils as Goethe's work did in his day. But it should not unduly effect children who have balanced lives. If children, or anybody for that matter, does nothing but watch television, then I would expect this to have a severe impact not only in terms of violence but in terms of nearly every form of physical, mental, or social skill. So I think that this misses the question. We should not ask "Does TV make our kids violent" but rather "How can we encourage our children to have generally healthy lives filled with diverse activities?"
Chris T., USA

I have three young children (4,6 and 8 years) and I am not at all surprised by the research connecting violent behaviour with excessive TV watching. Although my kids see minimal TV (from 2-4 hrs per week) and that TV is closely monitored, I still notice it has a detrimental effect on their behaviour and attitudes after watching.
Philippa, New Zealand

Of course not. This research is another one of those useless modern ways to try to take away more and more responsibility from parents on raising their children. TV is a perfect excuse for parents to say 'they've given their best' when actually they didn't care for their children at all. A TV set is too shallow a reason for the new generations to be more violent, when the main cause for that is lack of good education.
Guilherme Stocchero, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Our family got a TV only when I was 14 years old. I watched lots of TV after we got the set, but perhaps due to my age & upbringing I have never had inclination to violence. Today if I watch too much TV my reaction is boredom.
Marty, USA

Mindlessly watching TV for too many hours has a profound psychological effect, irrespective of the content.

Malc, Canada
Is the problem the content, or is it really just the amount of time spent in front of the TV? I personally think that mindlessly watching TV for too many hours has a profound psychological effect, irrespective of the content. I think it's lazy parents who blame the content itself - they should be teaching their children the right morale values. They should also be encouraging them to participate in other activities that will lead them to burn off their energy, and develop properly physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. Too many lazy parents encourage their children to sit in front of the TV because it takes less effort and it keeps them quiet.
Malc, Brit in Canada

I feel the study may be flawed at a deeper level - the children who are so bored, under-motivated and under-occupied that they watch more than three hours of television a day have a large overlap with those who are denied other opportunities to express themselves (i.e. people from broken homes, in deprived areas, on low incomes with very little spare cash). Children from these areas have a higher chance of becoming violent whether they spend three hours a day watching television or three hours a day playing football/soccer in the street. If the study had concentrated on children who watched three hours of TV a day but had the choice of doing other things instead, yet chose to watch TV, I think there would be a far smaller increase.
Chris, Scotland

It boils down to the issue of personal responsibility. Stop blaming television - or the internet or movies or junk food - for the behaviour of idiots.
Robert del Valle, USA

For the first time in history, kids spend more time outside the family circle than within it

Jane Rubino, US
In my opinion, this study confirms what we already know, that TV and violence have a profound effect on children. It's important to remember that for the first time in history, kids spend more time outside the family circle than within it. Of course they will pick up the values (if any) and behaviours displayed on TV. As more and more parents work and deal with stress, the kids watch TV for entertainment and listen to rock songs that glorify drugs, liquor, and violence against women. The media in all its forms is too powerful and kids need to be protected and looked after properly.
Jane Rubino, US

Far more insidious are programs like EastEnders where young and impressionable children can witness adults behaving appallingly night after night as if it were the norm and sociably acceptable. I don't believe programs like The Professionals or the A-Team have nearly as much effect on children as the situations they present are outside the child¿s daily experience. It is when we present daily life as being full of murder, stabbings, swearing and teenage pregnancy that the damage is done.
Iain, UK

I've definitely noticed that my relatives' children play much more aggressively after watching violent programs. I once noticed it occur after "Power Rangers" which isn't very violent. Intermittent exposure to violent content probably will not have any lasting effect, but it¿s obvious that daily, long-term exposure to violent content will negatively affect behaviour. Advertising execs are well aware that TV is very influential. After all, if TV had no influence on behaviour companies would not spend tens of millions on advertising every year.
J. Garner, USA

Let's get back to meaningful censorship now.

Baz, England
How can we have sex, murder, stabbings and shootings on tea time TV soaps and not expect it to influence our children. We need another Mary Whitehouse to monitor TV, to ensure that this rubbish is removed from our daily lives. We, the public, are all sick of this liberalisation. It doesn't reflect true life in our homes, so why is it permitted to be shown in this way. Let's get back to meaningful censorship now.
Baz, England

If politicians are on TV then I can understand a bit of aggro! But come on! Action Man was blamed for violence, so was Tom and Jerry. If kids are taught properly then they will know it is wrong to be violent. The ones who tend to grow up violent would almost certainly have developed that way regardless of TV, look at history prior to TV. Why don't researchers start spending taxpayer's money on a more practical experiment?
Neil Small, Scotland

This research seems not only to lack statistical validity but to have overlooked the fact of what children are watching. Content of programmes rather than the amount watched is more likely to be causing violent tendencies in children. It is also possible that violent children watch more television due to their upbringing and lifestyle so the two things are linked but not interdependent. Violence in society seems to me to be a complex subject but much of the problem must be laid at the door of parents who bring up their children in an inadequate way possibly even teaching them to be aggressive as they themselves are. At the very least not actively seeking to discipline and raise their children in a positive fashion
Nigel Sharples, UK

I am sure in my mind that the violence on television must affect not only children, but all of us. It amazes me that we can sit night after night and watch people - with great attention being paid to graphic reality - being blown apart, shot to pieces, heads blown off and so on and call it entertainment. As far as children see it, the good guy is right to kill and maim, he has free licence to do what he wishes and in the end he is the hero.
Gregory Page, Italy

Restrict kids' TV before they start killing their schoolmates as they do here

Steve Brett, USA

The link between cause and effect is sometimes not as clear-cut as it seems, and the widely held belief that watching TV leads to violent behaviour might well be flawed. The reverse side of this contentious coin suggests that people who are already predisposed to violence might, for reasons as yet unexplored, tend to watch more TV than other more placid individuals. A possible explanation for this might be that people with a violent disposition often tend to be introverts - and watching TV is a ubiquitous and convenient substitute for social interaction.
Chris B, England

Over here in the US a single hour of TV bombards the brain with far more advertising than in the UK and, in general, broadcasting is more fast pace. I think that the amount of information being transmitted to the young mind here (even on children's TV) is more than the brain can naturally process. This may also be a factor in violent development.

Lock researchers in a room and they will eventually prove the moon is made of cheese

Desmond, UK

The average hour of TV does not encourage development of the brain but instead dupes the brain into accepting the images/messages of the broadcasters and advertisers - both of whom are more interested in the revenue dollars, than the child's minds of the future! Sure, restrict kids' access to TV before it's too late and they start killing their schoolmates as they do here.
Steve Brett, USA

This is far from the only study that explicitly shows a link between television and violent behaviour. Complaining that it's flawed based on how few children watch less than an hour a day is ridiculous. While there will be several factors controlling why they watch so little television, in the context of the other studies the findings make perfect sense.
Arron, UK

If kids are stuck in front of a television they are more likely to be "excluded" from other activities for whatever reason, lonely with reduced social capacity, reduced access to positive emotional and reduced access to behavioural learning experiences.

Most of the research into TV and games is biased rubbish

Richard P, UK

It is probably mirrored in educational disaffection and/or failure to thrive a life-long debilitating experience manifested in social and economic exclusion.
Nigel DuPree, UK

Lock a bunch of researchers in a room for long enough and they'll actually prove to themselves that black is white and the moon is made of cheese. Ask a gang of 16-22 year olds about their reading habits at age 13 and you could probably prove that reading The Sun made you brain dead. This sort of research should not be given press. All it does is perpetuate middle class urban myths.
Desmond, UK

I once watched a Channel 4 documentary that said video games made kids violent. In an internet chatroom afterwards, the producer of the programme admitted she would never had made the programme if she didn't believe games were bad for kids in the first place. Most of the research into TV and games follows the same lines - biased rubbish with absolutely no scientific back-up.
Richard P, UK

Does watching violent television make you a violent person, or is it just that violent people like watching violent television?
Jim, UK

Given the quality of television around the world too much of it makes you do one thing - fall asleep through boredom

James Newman, UK
You have to bear in mind that this study was conducted in New York State, and not in the UK. I spent four years living in that area myself, and was appalled by the sheer volume and brutality of violence incessantly depicted on American TV. This should be a wake-up call to British TV to avoid a similar fate.
Paul Barrows, UK

I agree with Paul Barrows, I have lived in the US for 4 years now and I think that the content and quality of the programs is the most important factor. Here you cannot show a program with a man making love to his wife, but you can show one where he stabs her to death.
T. Dorrington, Brit in USA

How they can justify this as a finding beggars belief. Surely it depends on what you watch, not just how much you watch.
Richard, Scotland

Given the quality of television around the world too much of it makes you do one thing - fall asleep through boredom.
James Newman, UK

For the last decade or so people have said that watching TV and videos, playing computer games etc makes people violent. What nonsense. When I was a child, I never in any way felt more aggressive by watching television, even if it involved violence to any degree. Although I do not believe that TV "makes" people become violent, I do believe that people with violent tendencies may be affected by what they watch.

Many people believed that violent television was to blame for the actions of the Bulger killers. However, they have both been brought up in broken homes and were used to violence. Most people brought up in a stable household are not affected by what they see on TV. What makes children become violent is the way they are brought up and how they are treated.
Pete, Scotland

This study is unfortunate. While I am sure that TV has some effect on behaviour, it seems to me impossible to prove the direction of causation here. Isn't it just possible that children who have characteristics that may make them tend towards aggression (short attention spans, no respect for authority) make them also tend towards watching television?...
Pete, Canada

Since when do we need scientists to tell us what is obvious? Watching television for hours on end has huge effects on activity levels, eating habits, social interaction, and the ability to accomplish tasks. A kid who plays soccer, reads a book, draws, or develops friendships will be a much happier, healthier individual overall.
Jennifer, USA

See also:

29 Mar 02 | Health
TV violence link disputed
06 Mar 01 | Health
TV 'link' to Alzheimer's

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