Television, the Desensitizer
We do not have to watch television for very long to realize that violence is a common theme on a variety of shows. It can be found almost everywhere, including daytime talk shows and so-called sports entertainment programs. These programs may be defined as entertainment but they do more harm than good when we consider the effects that watching violent programming has on viewers. When we observe how these programs can influence behavior, especially among younger viewers, we should seriously consider setting standards for violence on television.
One type of programming that is especially offensive is daytime talk shows, such as Jerry Springer. The individuals on these shows are characterized by shameless displays of emotional and physical abuse almost daily. These shows hype their guests into a frenzy and the guests know what type of behavior is expected from them. Husbands and wives yell and scream at each other and angry or jilted lovers push and shove each other on stage. While most of us are able to discern between the real world and that of fiction, fantasy, or Jerry Springer, some of us are not. The result of watching this type of program repeatedly is desensitization. In other words, the more people watch these types of programs, they more they will think that the behavior depicted on these shows is acceptable. Studies conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles Television Monitoring Project Part indicate that many shows on television send the message that “fighting, if not fun, is at least the norm” (Media Awareness). With the talk show host and audience encouraging such detestable behavior, it is easy to understand how people can be influenced by television.
In an article published in the Journal of American Medical Association, Brandon Centerwall observes that the negative effects of television can be seen ever since television was introduced. He states that after the invention of television,...
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Centerwall, Brandon. “Television and Violence: The Scale of the Problem and Where to Go from Here.” JAMA. 10 Jun, 1992. Vol. 267. ProQuest Database.
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