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Television Violence and Our Children American children watch an average of three to four hours of television daily Television can be a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior Unfortunately much of todays television programs are violent Hundreds of studies of the effects of television violence on children and teenagers have found that children may become immune to the horror of violence gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems imitate the violence they observe on television and identify with certain characters and victims or victimizers As a consequence a major education gap exist regarding televisions contribution to the problem of violence in America Among the popular myths are one that television violence has no effect on the viewer secondly television violence has a cathartic effect of allowing the viewer to blow off steam and lastly violence presented in a cartoon is even less harmful than live action violence Contrary to popular opinion children are active viewers of what they watch on television They bring their existing beliefs attitudes and characteristic ways of processing social information to their viewing From a cognitive developmental perspective adolescents are thought to be more competent decision-makers than younger children are but less adept than adults are An adolescents involvement in risk taking behaviors may reflect newly acquired abstract thinking skills Abilities to think hypothetically futuristically and to integrate multiple aspects of a task or problem reflect formal operational thinking and are essential to reasoned decisions Compared with adults adolescents tend to reason less well with decisions due to a brief period in which to consolidate formal operational thinking skills and less opportunity to apply higher level cognitive functioning to real life situations Aggressive children selectively attend to and recall aggressive cues When presented with videotaped stimuli aggressive children relative to non-aggressive peers have difficulty shifting attention away from aggressive stimuli are more
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