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TV violence affects kids

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I am concerned that the television set has become the closest and most constant companion for American children. It has become the nation's mother and father, storyteller, baby sitter, preacher and teacher; and I believe violence on television is causing increased violence in society.

I feel that it is important to know why violence on television has such a profound influence on children. As a human development major at the University of Utah, I believe the most important reason is that young children do not have the capability to determine what is real and what is fiction. Preschoolers are particularly vulnerable to the negative influences of the media because they are not yet fully able to distinguish fantasy from reality, and their grasp of the underlying motives for behavior is not fully developed. A prime example of this is the increasingly popular "cartoon" violence that children watch, in which a character is exposed to an extremely violent act (i.e., explosion, gunfire) and sustains no lasting injury.This rapid recovery can confuse the child and give an unrealistic picture of the injuries sustained. Furthermore, the child may begin to mimic the behavior learned during the program and unintentionally hurt himself or someone else. The implicit message given to children is that violence is not all that harmful to others, and it can actually be funny.

Even as children get older and can grasp the concept that guns kill people, television violence still portrays a warped view of violent behavior. TV violence is often shown as the best solution for many problems.

It seems to me that the most responsible, effective and obvious means of reducing the negative effects of violence on children is to lesson the actual amount shown on TV.

Brooke Christine Russell

Salt Lake City