Children’s Programming And Violence

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As if parents needed another reason to turn off the television, the Parents Television Council (www.parentstv.org) recently released, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children’s Television.” According to the study, which looked at 443.5 hours of entertainment programming for school-aged children aged 5-10 during after-school and Saturday morning hour (the eight broadcast or expanded cable networks that met that criteria were ABC, Fox, NBC, WB, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon), “there is more violence on children’s entertainment programming than on adult-oriented television.”
The Cartoon Network had the highest total number of violent incidents, although the ABC Family Channel had more violence-per-program, with 318 instances of violence (only 11 of which could be considered “cartoon” violence, like an anvil dropping on Wile E. Coyote’s head) for an average of 10.96 violent incidents per episode.
The Disney Channel had the least-violent children’s programming 0.95 incidents per episode) while the WB had the highest levels of offensive language, verbal abuse, sexual content and offensive/excretory references.
Overall, the study revealed 3,488 incidents of violence, or an average of 7.86 instances per hour. Take out the cartoon violence and there still were 2,794 instances of violence, average of 6.30 instances per hour.
To put this figure in perspective, the Parent’s Television Council cited their special report, TV Bloodbath: Violence on Prime Time Network TV, noting that “in 2002 the six broadcast networks combined averaged only 4.71 instances of violence per hour of prime time programming.”
So are you ready to hit the “off” button?
Consider joining viewers across the country for National Turn Off The TV Week, April 24-20, 2006 as families actually do the unthinkable: turn off the television for seven days.
It’s not as bad as it might seem. Believe it or not, without the television (and video games) kids really will find other things to do. Here are just a few ideas to help them get over their television withdrawal:
Go outside and play – This may sound simple, but sometimes parents overlook the option of just letting the kids play outside. Find a group of kids from church, school or the neighborhood and get them together to play kickball or hopscotch, jump rope or just blow bubbles.
Go on a nature or neighborhood walk – Take the kids on a walk in a nearby park, field or just around the block. Look for birds, talk about the plants and flowers, or pray for your neighbors.
Do arts and crafts – Kids love to get their hands dirty, and what better way than to get out the glue, construction paper and glitter? Make pictures or cards for the local nursing home, or for a church member who’s sick or in the hospital. Companies like Crayola are getting in the act, offering craft ideas to help the kids find better things to do with the time they’d normally spend in front of the tube. Visit www.crayola.com for more ideas.
Cook a meal – Spend time with your kids going through recipes and then preparing a meal. They’ll learn the value of nutrition, planning and cooking, and enjoy eating the fruits of their labors. You can also incorporate a bit of family history into the cooking lesson by making dishes that reflect your ethnic heritage or are recipes handed down through generations.
Read your kids a story – Or better yet, have them read to you. Make story time a regular part of the day, when you can cuddle up with the kids for nursery rhymes, Bible stories or even Dr. Seuss.
Have a family game night – Pull out the board games, pop some popcorn, and spend the night in Candy Land.

Listen to radio drama – Remember the days when the family gathered around the radio to hear the adventures of the Lone Ranger, Little Orphan Annie, or The Shadow? Radio drama is entertaining, and requires some imagination to follow the story. Those shows and many more are available on cassette and CD from Radio Spirits HYPERLINK “http://(www.radiospirits.com” (www.radiospirits.com) or your local retailer. In addition, new radio drama, like “The Father Gilbert Mysteries” and the wildly popular kids series “Adventures in Odyssey”, are available from Focus on the Family ( HYPERLINK “http://www.family.org” www.family.org).
Freelance writer and humor columnist Joanne Brokaw covers entertainment for Christian and community publications across the U.S. and Canada. Visit her online at www.joannebrokaw.com.
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