TV viewing - Should I be concerned about our family's viewing habits?

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Questions of Discernment - to help with your entertainment decisions. Includes guest editorials by Dr. Ted Baehr of Movieguide.

TV Trash Talk Abounds

Parents TV Council Review of Prime-Time Programming Reveals Dramatic Increases in Foul Language on All Networks

Washington, D.C. - The Parents Television Council released results of the second in a series of comprehensive reports examining the State of the Television Industry-a study focusing on the amount of foul language on television from 1998 through 2002. This latest study revealed a dramatic increase in the amount of foul language aired on virtually every network and time slot-including the Family Hour.

The analysis revealed an overall increase in foul language in every timeslot. Adult language during the Family Hour increased by 94.8% between 1998 and 2002 and by 109.1% during the 9:00 p.m. ET/PT time slot. Ironically, the smallest increase (38.7%) occurred during the last hour of prime time - the hour when young children are least likely to be in the viewing audience.

“The fact that popular television characters are frequently using such coarse language has an impact on the children who are watching,” said Brent Bozell, President of the Parents Television Council. “The entertainment industry has a responsibility to reduce this flood of vulgarity and the FCC needs to get serious about enforcing broadcast decency laws and punishing broadcasters with fines and license revocations that violate those laws.”

For this study, PTC analysts examined prime time entertainment series on the major broadcast television networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN and the WB) during the first two weeks of November sweeps in 1998, 2000, and 2002. A total of 400 program hours were reviewed and analyzed.

Read PTC's full report on foul language on TV and its connection to problems in society - GO (off-site)


TV Violence Strongly Linked to Later Aggressive Behavior

TV violence watched by children erodes their aversion to violence and leads them to believe that aggression is appropriate in some situations. On the basis of a lengthy study, the Associated Press and CNN reporte that, “people who watch violent television as children behave more aggressively even 15 years later, according to one of the few TV violence studies to follow children into adulthood. …The study linked violent TV viewing at ages 6 to 9 to such outcomes as spouse abuse and criminal convictions in a person's early 20s.

…the study is important because it used a wide range of measures, included many participants and showed the effect in females as well as males.”

The results of this large study argued against the theory that the finding were due to “the participants' socioeconomic status or intelligence, or their parents' childrearing practices,” or that “aggressive children seek out TV violence.”

The American Psychological Association has concluded that “viewing violence on TV or other mass media does promote aggressive behavior, particularly in children.” Many other secular medical groups are in agreement.

For more details, see the journal Developmental Psychology (March 2003). The article was written by psychologists L. Rowell Huesmann and colleagues at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

Study: So-called “Family Hour” on TV is raunchier than ever

A new study of television's so-called “family hour” (the first hour of prime time) found that youngsters watching network television last season were exposed to more coarse language, violence and bawdy humor than in the previous year, according to the Parents Television Council.

“I don't think enough parents realize just how awful it's become,” said L. Brent Bozell III, president of the watchdog group. “Some of the worst programming is now being put on during that hour, and it's being directed deliberately at children.”

Bozell emphasized that the study looked at broadcast television, “not late-night, obscure cable.” The group studied 200 hours of programming airing in 2000-01 on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB and UPN during the first hour of prime time—8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the East and West coasts and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones.

Overall, coarse language was up 78 percent compared to 1999. Violence rose 70 percent. Sexual material was more raw than in the past, the PTC said. Oral sex, homosexuality, pornography, masturbation and “kinky practices” were mentioned on family hour shows, the study said. The study found that UPN was the worst offender, while NBC was the second.

Bozell added, “By poisoning the Family Hour, the networks and their affiliates, with the generous support of sponsors, are robbing children of their innocence.”


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Ranking the best and worst programs / Providing help for controlling your children's viewing / Easy-to-use ratings include links to comments from Christian viewers.

Busy parents and others want guidance on choosing television programs. Some parents watch so little TV themselves that they have almost no idea of the appropriateness of their children's viewing habits or what shows are worth their time. This easy-to-use ratings list includes links to comments and descriptions that provide more detail to assist you in your decision-making.

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