Chapter 13 – Monkey See, Monkey Do. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Many parents today are showing this by their actions, without having to verbalize this statement.
Television violence rarely shows consequences, leading impressionable children to imitate actions they see. He quotes from an article in the National Federation for Decency Journal (which is the American Family Association now – no wonder I couldn’t find anything the last time), which talks about a gifted student, with no (obvious) discipline problems, who came into school, guns blazing, and shot two other students before offing herself. Of course, they posit that perhaps the blame lies with television.
On TV, when people get shot in the head, it’s never depicted realistically. Yes, this is still true, for the most part, to get around Standards and Practices; we still see characters, supposedly dead from gunshot wounds to the head, with a trickle of blood descending from the temple, or a mini-puddle on the floor. “Since children believe what they see on television is true, they do not fully comprehend the consequences of shooting someone,” Phillips whines. I have two thoughts in response. Point the first – would you rather a young, impressionable child see the realistic, gory aftermath of such a wound, with gray matter and liberal blood spatter? Point the second – this is a perfect opportunity for A Teaching Moment; a parent can explain how such things would work in “real life,” to a child’s understanding. Of course, I’m assuming that you don’t just plant your child in front of the set, hoping that the twitchy glow will cause them to sprout.
The coyote from the Roadrunner cartoons never dies! Um, can you name a cartoon from this era where any of the characters died?
He brings up He-Man again, and again, feels the need to stress that it is unacceptable for children, in his view. However, he says, some parents feel that it different from other cartoons because it shows consequences. “If he gets hit on the jaw, He-Man says, ‘Boy, that hurt. I should try something different next time.'” That is not a Phillips quote, by the way, lest you think he’s going soft on us.
TV criminals do go to jail, but then plea bargain for lesser sentences. These are not “accurate” consequences. Riiight, because that never happens in reality. Adults are only shown running or fighting when faced with dilemmas – is this what we want children learning? We should be using logic, and reason – wait, what about prayer, and fasting? Am I still reading the same book?
He quotes an article from Ladies Home Journal that discusses a possible link between childhood viewing habits and adult criminality. Apparently, it was a 22-year study done by two psychology professors at the University of Illinois, who surveyed a 3rd grade class’ viewing habits, and then revisited the participants when they turned 30. “Of those with criminal records,” the article states, “the ones who had watched more TV violence as children were convicted as adults of crimes significantly more violent than others from the same classrooms.” But can one make such a quick and dirty conclusion as this? There are so many other factors at possible play here. At any rate, I have no idea why Phillips cites this article about the study, as the very blurb he quotes from says that one of the professors who led the study would not say that TV violence was the sole factor responsible.
Ugh, and then he starts extrapolating why TV might beget violence and THIS is where you start thinking like a rational person, sir? Ten pages from the close of your book? Gimme a break. We’re done here.