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kids and TV violence
. is Your Toaster Evil?

. Kids and TV violence
. Opinion Editorial By Sylvia Cochran
kids and TV violence

. Once Upon A Time...

. Once upon a time, there were three wise men...let's call them Jenkins, Nipkow, and Baird*. . They invented something that no one had ever seen before -- a machine that could transmit pictures from one place to another. . These wise men were so successful that their machines were used to transmit speeches of the high-ranking officials of the realm as well as local jousting events.

. if all had gone well, this could very well have been the way that television sets would have been remembered by children, but all has not gone well. . On the contrary, today's parents eye their television sets with a mixture of relief, suspicion, and downright disgust. . What happened? . As early as 1950, Americans discussed the possibility of TV violence impacting children. . in 1965, American children were shown the Vietnam War on television in full color. . in 1967, the FCC ordered that cigarette advertisements on TV needed to include some kind of warning that smoking could be harmful. . in 1969, children were able to see Neil Armstrong take humankind's first step on the moon. . in 1972, they cheered on the athletes in the Munich Olympics. . Today, they can watch anything from sexually-charged shows, drug use, and rock and roll (what now passes for it, anyways), albeit with the somewhat feeble warnings of the v-chips generation and public service announcements.

. Give it To Me Straight...How Bad is it?

. With the 24/7 availability of news channels with their competitive reporting of natural disasters, war and crime reports, and other local and world-wide issues, many a child from birth onward will be exposed to such fare, causing them to experience the same stress, anxiety, and fear the parents face, only more. . After all, a two-year old in rural Kansas does not understand that a Mount Saint Helen's will never ever erupt in her backyard; all she will see are the smoldering houses, the dead and burnt animals (courtesy of an especially ambitious photo journalist), and the crying and devastated homeowners.

. Anyone who ever read anything about child rearing will tell you that children and adolescents imitate what they see and hear. . What do your children see and hear? . Are they chronically and persistently exposed to television fare that includes violence, sexual actions or sexual innuendoes? . Are they being bombarded with commercial messages, turning them into brand name junkies from the crib?

. Where is The Plug? . What is The Answer?

. Should we send Dad up on the roof to rip down the satellite dish? . Should we move to Amish country to make sure our children do not have friends who will expose them to television? . Should we, as parents, take responsibility for what our child will watch on TV? . is TV inherently evil? . (is your mixer?) Should your teenager only be allowed to watch a purple dinosaur and nothing else?

. The Truth...Can You Handle The Truth?

. The latest trend in the American society is an almost unquestioning tolerance of tolerance. . Tolerance at its best enables us to live next door to a bagpipe player who serenades the sunset every evening. . At its worst, it is elevated to political correctness so unquestioning that we abandon all conviction about right and wrong. . And what about the lie that has been served to adults from every possible angle, the "You will be a happier/more desirable/better adjusted/smarter person if you own product x." message? . Children are not immune; on the contrary, they have long been in the cross hairs of the boardrooms of big business. . The ruthless commercialism of today's society has created a time where the makes of shoes or jackets can cost someone his life.

. it used to be that children would think their dad was the strongest man alive. . These days, many children don't know who their dads are. . Those families that are fortunate enough to have a dad in the home may not see him all that often, partially because he is so busy holding down three jobs to support his family's spending. . Gone is the male role model, but fear not: television has given children a variety of new ones to choose from. . They all seem to have one thing in common, though: they earn the respect of young viewers by violence. . They are the strongest, fastest, and "baddest" of them all; they can throw bombs, shoot with their eyes closed, and carry more weaponry and armor than you can shake a stick at (if you were inclined to do so).

    . Tell Me Something i Don't Know!

    . Here are some no-nonsense steps we can take with our children to help them combat what they will be exposed to, if not in our homes, then in the homes of their friends:

    • . Explain to your child why commercials are made. . Ask the child if s/he remembers the items s/he asked for last week; chances are the answer is "no". . if you make a game of it, asking them to keep track of what commercials are trying to sell them and how, you will raise a discerning consumer and become one yourself.

      . This is a great opportunity to teach a child of any age about budgeting, saving, and earning money. . This is also a great time to dispel the myth that money comes out of walls or that small plastic tickets can be used in its stead whenever the wall doesn't spit out any cash.

    • . Become a role model yourself by restricting what you watch on TV when your children are around. . Perhaps you can go easy on the news, watch some more sports, and beef up on educational programs.
    • . Limit the number of television sets in your home. . if your laundry closet gets cable, and your garage is wired, you need to take a step backward and ask yourself how your family life is going. . Sell or give away any extra sets.
    • . Develop your own convictions about what you want to invite into your house via a cable. . Parents have choices, yet it appears that far too often we choose not to exercise them; however, let us remember that just like a muscle becomes stronger the more it is exercised, if we exercise our choices, they, too, will become stronger.

    . Should we, then, as parents, take responsibility for what our children watch on TV? . if we don't, who will?

    . Do you think there is too much sex on violence on TV? . Do you think it is negatively impacting children? . Should the FCC increase the penalties for violation of obscenity laws?

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