Term Paper: Children's Television Programs More Violent

Pages: 12 (3113 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The program and network options were then separated between the two target audience categories. A random drawing was made on May 9 until three hours of viewing were covered for the adult and children/youth categories. The selected programs were then checked against program categories, to ensure that at least two of the options for each audience category were covered. The results were:

Adults - one hour-long drama (Law & Order), and four half-hour sitcoms (That 70s Show, Will and Grace, King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond)

Children - one hour-long dramatic series (7th Heaven), two half-hour sitcoms (Lizzie McGuire and Boy Meets World), and two half-hour cartoons (Berenstein Bears and Timothy Goes to School)

Random selection generated the above programs, thereby negating any need to substitute unrepresented categories from those with a biased (exclusive) representation.

The above selection provided a range of program times and networks within the target timeframe for viewing television programs. The following program viewing schedule was produced:

Program Title

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Adult

Will and Grace

Everybody Loves Raymond

That 70s Show

Law & Order

King of Queens

Child/Youth

7th Heaven

Lizzie McGuire

Timothy Goes to School

Berenstein Bears

Boy Meets World

Each program was viewed according to the above schedule, and acts of aggression and acts of violence were recorded. These results are presented and discussed in the next section.

In summary, the sample parameters became a weekday evening from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. with representation from at least two of the main categories of programming for adults and children/youth. For adults, these categories include sitcoms, dramatic series, reality television and movies. For children/youth, the categories include dramatic series, cartoons, sitcoms, music videos and movies. A random drawing of programs from within the above parameters was made, and a viewing schedule was created. The programs were viewed, acts of aggression and acts of violence were recorded, and this report was then prepared.

Results and Discussion

Following is the data that was collected during the three hours of television viewing for each category of program: adult-oriented programs and children/youth-oriented programs.

Adult Programs/Duration

Acts of Aggression

Acts of Violence

That 70s Show (half hour)

Will & Grace (half hour)

King of Queens (half hour)

Everybody Loves Raymond (half hour)

Law & Order (hour)

Totals for Adult Programs

Children/Youth Programs and Duration

Acts of Aggression

Acts of Violence

Lizzie McGuire (half hour)

Boy Meets World (half hour)

Berenstein Bears (half hour)

Timothy Goes to School (half hour)

7th Heaven (hour)

Totals for Children/Youth Programs

The results of my research show that adult programs contained higher frequencies of both acts of aggression and acts of violence. Interestingly the proportion of acts of aggression to acts of violence for both audience types were the same, at 4:1.

As a representation of television programs, this limited sample possibly provides an idea of the degree of aggression and violence that exists within television viewing during 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. However the results would be expected to differ if a selection of programs with weighting from different program categories was available. For example, sitcoms are generally intended to create a sense of well-being using laughter. One can speculate that levels of aggression exist within sitcoms, but (as was observed in this study) these acts are generally intended to invoke laughter by creating unexpected situations, both physically and verbally (slapping, kicking, derogatory comments, innuendo, etc.).

This sampling was biased in favor of sitcoms. If additional dramatic series had been included in the sample, and if fewer sitcoms had been represented, then the overall number of incidents for aggression and violence would likely have been higher. The impact on the ratio of aggression to violence is not known, but one can speculate that the ratio would remain similar to these findings (more acts of aggression result in more acts of violence).

The absence of some program categories from this research could also affect the overall findings. For example neither reality television was selected in either audience category, nor was the category of movies. Music videos were also absent from the children/youth category, although this is not surprising since this category did not appear in the program selection from the T.V. Guide. The impacts of including these categories in subsequent research projects could influence the numbers of acts of violence and acts of aggression, but could possibly offset any ratio increases that result from the inclusion of additional dramatic series or movies in the sample. The limited selection of programs likely affected the results of this project, and will be further discussed in the limitations section.

In the children/youth category, the inclusion of mainstream cartoons that target preschoolers could also have affected the overall number of acts of aggression and violence. The Berenstein Bears are presented as educational programs, fostering a sense of togetherness, right vs. wrong and consequences for inappropriate actions. The assumption is that preschoolers may be shielded from both acts of aggression and acts of violence in educational-based programs, from parents, from regulators and legislators, from broadcasters and even by producers. As children age, increased levels of aggression and violence are anticipated, based on the ability of maturing youth to differentiate between right and wrong, real and fiction. Non-educational programs, and non-mainstream programs (such as the "anime" style of cartoon, mentioned in the introduction) are likely to contain higher levels of aggression and violence, even when the primary target is preschoolers. Therefore the inclusion of educational preschooler programs might have significantly affected the findings of this project, particularly in the children/youth programs.

Finally the timing of the sample could also have an impact on program content. During ratings weeks, viewer interest is generally pursued aggressively, and can be accomplished through the presentation of unexpected scenarios - the killing of key characters, the involvement of key characters in controversial situations, or the involvement of key characters in other attention-grabbing situations. Both aggression and violence can increase viewer interest, therefore creating viewer numbers, and thus numbers of aggression and violence are expected to increase as key ratings periods occur.

Conclusions

Based upon the television viewing and the results summarized above, I conclude that the prevalence of aggression and violence in children's programs is lower than that of adults' television. This leads me to reject my hypothesis that violence would be higher but aggression would be lower in adults' TV programming.

Because there is such a diversity of scientific research into violence and television, this study is in accord with some of them and conflicting with others. Generally speaking, most of the literature examined indicated that aggression and violence were more likely to be found in programs for children. Both aggression and violence were found in proportion to those found in adult-oriented programming, but the number of incidents in adult programming was much higher than in children/youth programs. However a different sample of programs could lead to significantly different results, particularly if the composition of the sample categories shifted to include additional movies and dramas and fewer sitcoms and preschool-based programs.

Limitations few of the key limitations of this study are:

Limited Sample Size - Six hours of television viewing is insignificant, given the volume of programs that are available 24 hours each day, seven days each week. Also the sampling time-frame (7 p.m. - 10 p.m.) could also affect the findings, with different levels of aggression and violence expected both earlier and later in the day (less during daylight hours and more during night-time hours). To overcome this limitation, future studies should significantly expand the number of hours of viewing in the research project.

Limited Sample Duration and Sample Period - The sample period only ran for one week, and could therefore significantly affect the findings. In the discussion section, the possible impact of ratings periods was noted. To overcome this limitation, future studies should select a range of viewing periods over the course of a year, particularly during the main (September - April) television-viewing season.

Inclusion of Preschool Educational Programs in Sample - The cartoons that were included are targeted as educational programs to preschoolers. This target population is the most protected, and therefore is the least exposed to aggression and violence in mainstream television. Cartoons aimed at older (school-age children) would likely include higher levels of aggression and violence), as would alternate forms of cartoon entertainment aimed at preschoolers. To overcome this limitation, future studies should restrict or eliminate preschool-aged educational programs from the sample.

Unrepresentative/Biased Sample - Only two categories of programs were included for the adult category, and only three categories of programs were included for the children/youth category. To overcome this limitation, future studies should strive to include a sample from each main program category.

These are a few of the limitations that have been identified for this project. These limitations need to be addressed in further studies, thus rendering the findings of this project exploratory at least and inconclusive at best.

Bibliography

Aronson,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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