Unformatted text preview: erson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 58 Woodard, 2000), but the number of hours is even higher for many children. For example, 25% of
sixth graders watch more than 40 hr of television per week (Lyle & Hoffman, 1972)—more time
than they spend in school. At 10 a.m. on any Saturday morning, about 60% of the 6- to 11-yearolds in America are watching television (Comstock & Paik, 1991). Indeed, children age 0-6 spend
more time on entertainment media than on reading, being read to, and playing outside combined
(Rideout et al., 2003).
The 1999 Kaiser survey (Roberts et al., 1999) and Comstock and Paik (1991) both reported that
TV viewing peaks at ages 8 through 13, although the APPC survey found no significant age
differences in TV viewing. For all other media, all surveys show that children’s time spent with
media does vary significantly by age. For example, younger children spend more time watching
television (including videos and DVDs) than do older children, whereas teenagers spend more time
on computer-related media and the telephone than do young children.
As one might expect, children from households with lower incomes, on the average, spend
significantly more time watching TV and videotapes and playing video games than children from
families with higher incomes (Comstock & Paik, 1991; Roberts et al., 1999). In addition, children
with lower IQs spend more time watching TV than children with higher IQs do (Comstock & Paik,
1991). However, the variation within any social class or IQ level is large; at all levels, some
children watch large amounts of TV and some children watch none.
The Violent Content of Media
Several content analyses over the past three decades have systematically examined the amount
of violence on television (Gerbner, 1972; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1980; Larsen,
1968; Potter et al., 1995; Signorielli, 1990). The largest and most recent of these was the National
Television Violence Survey7 (NTVS; Wilson et al., 1997, 1998), which examined the amount and
content of violence8 on American television for 3 consecutive years.
The programs for NTVS were randomly sampled from 23 broadcast and cable channels over a Media Violence 59 20-week period ranging from October to June during the 1994 through 1997 viewing seasons. The
NTVS report revealed that 61% of programs on television contain some violence. Only 4% of all
violent programs on television feature an antiviolence theme--or put in another way, 96% of all
violent television programs use aggression as a narrative, cinematic device for simply entertaining
the audience. These prevalence findings were quite consistent across 2 randomly sampled
composite weeks of television from 3 different years. Moreover, most aggression on television is
glamorized and trivialized: 44% of the violent interactions involve perpetrators who have some
attractive qualities worthy of emulation; nearly 40% of the violent scenes involve humor either
directed at the violence or used by characters involved with the violence; and nearly 75% of all
violent scenes feature no immediate punishment or condemnation for violence. Almost 45% of all
programs feature “bad” characters who are never or rarely punished for their aggressive actions.
Much of the violence is also sanitized: 51% of violent behavioral interactions on television feature
no pain, 47% feature no harm, and 34% depict harm unrealistically. The greatest prevalence of
unrealistic harm appears in children's programming, presumably in cartoons. Of all violent scenes
on television, 86% feature no blood or gore, and only 16% of violent programs depict the longterm, realistic consequences of violence.
NTVS is not without limitations, however; violence in news was not assessed. Much of news
programming is filled with stories about crime and violence (R.N. Johnson, 1996; Lichter &
Amundson, 1994; Slattery & Hakanen, 1994). Approximately 15% of the programs on the
broadcast networks and 10% of the programs on the independent stations are news programs, not to
mention the all-day news programming on two CNN channels on basic cable. Given that news
stories often feature violence or its harmful aftermath, the prevalence of violence on American
television may be considerably higher than the NTVS findings reveal.
There are no comparable comprehensive studies of violent content in contemporary American
movies or video games. However, several independent research groups have conducted smaller Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 60 scale analyses of video-game content, using various methods, and the results converge on the same
conclusion—that violence is widely present. A 1999 National Institute on Media and the Family
report (Walsh, 1999) noted that a panel of parents rating 78 popular video games found that 25% of
the games showed "many, intense instances" of violence, and another 30% showed at least "some
instances" of violence. Another recent analysis found that about 89% of video games contain some
violent content (Childr...
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- Spring '13
- The Land, media violence, Leonard Berkowitz