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Kids and TV: a Lethal Connection?

February 03, 2001|KATHRYN MacLAREN

The U.S. surgeon general recently linked television programming and video games to aggressive behavior in children. The declaration was a watershed in the debate about government regulation of the entertainment industry.

KATHRYN MacLAREN spoke to educators about the surgeon general's announcement.

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JULIE NEILSON

Advisor, Garfield High School

I don't know any kids who don't grow up watching TV. Does that mean they are all aggressive? I'm a grandmother; my own kids watched all that stuff. Maybe it's just that some kids don't know the difference between what's real and what isn't.

I don't see any rise in the level of aggressiveness over the years. I feel very safe at this school.

I have a hard time with this because I don't know many kids who haven't watched TV or played video games, and I don't think that the majority of our kids are violent. It just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense; it seems to be more of a political statement.

I have a very difficult time relating things like the Road Runner cartoons with gang violence. If parents want or need a parental statement on games that are sold, then it should definitely be there. But I do think kids can tell the difference between games and reality. With young kids, you need to know what they are watching and playing at all times. That's a parent's responsibility.

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LINDA HAHN

Dean, Sun Valley Middle School

There is probably a divided house on this issue. I believe violence on TV and in video games does cause aggressive behavior in children. Since I was about 13, I have never been much of a TV watcher, but the TV is on in our home today because I have a 17-year-old. I never watched scary movies and don't like them. I have not been desensitized to violence on TV, so if I watch things that are violent it upsets me. The kids, however, have seen these things on TV over and over again. It's nothing for them; they don't even react to it.

Personally, any time it gets to a moment where there is a point of anxiety or people are getting killed, it bothers me. Violence and stuff like that happens in real life and it's a terrible thing. To watch it like it's nothing does upset me. It's not that way for the children.

I think you do become desensitized to things. We don't allow gun video games, no shoot-'em-up games and no unsupervised Internet--no chat rooms and no Internet access at all for the little ones.

We all have negative thoughts and we learn to control them.

They should stop selling these kinds of games and regulate the sales of toy guns; don't sell anything beyond squirt guns.

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MARTHA MONTANO

Discipline coordinator, Palmdale School District

Idon't think that watching violence on TV and playing video games leads to aggressive behavior. A lot has to do with the home environment. It all depends on the parents to know what their children are watching and discuss different things they see that might not be appropriate.

I am more concerned with the sex on TV than the violence. The children are aware of what is real and what isn't. They know you can't do what is portrayed in games and TV. It is not reality.

Parental guidelines are a good idea for helping us decide what we are going to allow in our home. But you can't watch them 24 hours a day, and there are times when you are at work and you really don't know what they are doing. That's why you have rules. The bottom line is you have to trust your kids to know what's right or wrong.

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