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Television and violence

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Have you ever thought ?

No matter how old you are, how many times have you witnessed a squabble between two people or a fight involving physical activity? So, when was the last time your eyes witnessed the injury or death of a person with the help of any tool?

The answer most of us will give to these questions is probably “none” or very little. But in reality, this situation is not at all what you think. Most of the time, hundreds of these and similar images flow into our rooms and lives every day from the television, where we dedicate the most valuable corners of our homes.

In the research conducted by Baltaş-Baltaş (1997), it was determined that the number of negative images streaming from the television to our rooms during the week varied between 1692 and 3406. While an average of 800 physical violence is watched in news programs, the images showing this physical violence repeatedly increase to 1800. Moreover, in every room and in every place… In the research conducted by Emanetoğlu and Batlaş in 2006, 81.5% of our houses have 2 or more televisions and 28% of them are kitchens, 33% are children’s rooms, and 18.5% are in the kitchen. The seriousness of the situation emerges when it is considered that it is found to be kept in special areas such as the bedroom.

This situation causes the communication and interaction between family members to turn to television. Perhaps even more thought-provoking is the mothers’ use of television as “electronic caregivers” or the “advertising romance” between husband and wife.

Moreover, this relentless interaction that we are exposed to is spreading rapidly between individuals and increasing the speed of interaction with the rapidly developing mass media of our age. In most of our daily conversations, the television program broadcast the previous day is critiqued, the phone of our friend, for whom we criticize, rings with the generic music of a TV series, and our children’s rooms are filled with toys of not-so-innocent movie and cartoon characters. These virtual characters inevitably create an interaction with yourself or your child’s character. Especially our children remain vulnerable in this intense interaction process.

Producers, who have analyzed our consumption habits well, use the means of disseminating the virtual characters they have created in movies through communication technologies such as various toys, food and beverage items and computer games. The character created in a television program provides the opportunity to imitate, direct and diversify the movements of the hero by activating your child, who has been in front of the television in a passive state until that moment, with computer games or toys, thus immersing him in virtual reality himself.

Since the protagonists are generally characters who can use all kinds of acts of violence for a “good cause”, the violence they use often overshadows this “good cause” and makes it acceptable. The fact that 52% of the children describe these virtual characters as “strong”, 49% as “good” and 37.5% as “helpful” increases the possibility of imitation. Likewise, 63.5% of parents say that their children imitate the behavior of the heroes in television series and movies.

According to Smith and Donnerstein; Children tend to imitate a superhero who beats up the villain for the good of society, rather than the villain who resorts to violence for his own gain. Children see that the bad guy is punished by the good guy, even with aggression; but it also follows that the good hero’s aggressive behavior is rewarded by others. Most people think that their side in a conflict is the good and the right side. Therefore, like the good guy they follow, they think aggression is the most appropriate way to solve the problem. The fact that aggressive behaviors and acts of violence are stimulant, used in overcoming obstacles, solving problems, being right, rewarding, not criticizing, not condemning, not punishing lead to the increase and spread of such behaviors and actions.

Have you ever seen that the character defined as “good” in a TV series or movie was caught by the police after the act of violence, his statement was taken, he was taken to court, he was punished for this act or condemned by the society? Your answer will likely be “no”. In fact, when you think of some popular TV series, you can see that the character, who killed 5 people with a gun a few hours ago, broke one’s neck, is probably “good”, happily eats with his family in the next scene and engages in a deep mystical conversation. Violence shown in television broadcasts is used by police, soldiers, etc. who are in favor of “law” and “order”. If it is applied by the people in charge, the audience is faced with a much more comprehensive danger.

These characters, who have adopted violence and aggression as “methods”, are more likely to be imitated since they carry out the order with aggressive acts and are already constructed as “good”. These characters often say, “I’m detaining you for your action.” or “Your legal rights are…”, they empty a clip on the suspect instead of lines and we see that suspect lying on the ground in blood instead of in front of the judge in the next shot.

In a study conducted by Singer, Slovak, Frierson and York in 1998 in Ohio in the United States, it was observed that as the time spent watching television in a day increases, effects such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder also increase. In a study conducted in our country with the assumption that people spend an average of 8 hours in sleep, it is seen that people spend an average of 4.5 hours on weekdays and 5 hours on weekends in front of the television between 1-16 hours. In a study conducted by Batlaş-Baltaş in 1997, if it is assumed that a preschool child between the ages of 3-6 spends 6 hours a day in front of the television, 107.5 in a week, 5590 in a year in total, about violence, death, suicide and many deaths. It was determined that he followed an image of injury with a planned knife, gun or beating. In children aged 11-17, this rate was found to be 53.6 per week and 2787 negative images per year. Based on these results, they stated that it can be said that a child between the ages of 3 and 17 watched a total of 59594 images of murder, injury and death.

In a study conducted in our country, approximately 60.5% of parents said that their children were afraid after some images they watched on television, and 43% of the children gave a positive answer to this question. This is why; In one study, 9% of parents said their child had nightmares evoked by television. In a study conducted in our country in 2006, the effect of television as an auditory and visual stimulus on the perception and learning of violent behavior was experimentally examined and very striking results were obtained. In the study, sections were taken from programs such as news, TV series, and movies broadcast between 18.00-22-00, and the children were made to listen to them only as audio, only as images, and finally, the audio-video was given together and they were asked to paint what they perceived. In the research of Emanetoğlu and Baltaş; Although 74% of the children only hear voices, in their pictures, fighting, wounding, killing, wounding with fire, cutting, piercing tools, killing, armed conflict against an individual or group, bombing, blowing up, maltreatment of an adult or child, bodily attack, robbery and attempted robbery, accident-natural disaster, bad habits, mutual fighting, fighting with the help of a vehicle, injuring by beating, killing by beating. This rate was found to be 61.5% for those who watched only video, and 61% for those who watched audio-video together. In the group that was given no stimulus, this rate drops to 30.5%. These ratios are a striking result for the perception of negative images on television.

Although the “Smart Signs System”, which has been put into practice in our country in recent years, is a positive start to protect children and youth from violence, it is not enough. Because, according to the research data, even if you see the 7+ or 13+ sign from these signs and remove the child from the environment where there is television, if you continue to watch the television and the child hears the sound coming from the television, it is concluded that the child will continue to perceive violence and other negative behaviors. As a result, many researchers agree that images of violence on television affect human behavior.

It is clear, therefore, that we have to keep our social reflexes alert to this obvious danger. In this regard, it is important to place the awareness and order of watching television, especially within the family, instead of expecting it to protect us from official or unofficial dynamics outside of us.