Television Violence

April 14, 2000

Yesterday we talked about the special report issued by the Parents Television Council entitled "What a Difference a Decade Makes." They found that the amount of sexual content, coarse language, and violent material in television tripled from 1989 to 1999.

Skeptics sometimes respond by saying, "So what?" Does television actually have an impact on behavior? The evidence seems to be conclusive, especially concerning violence. For example, a review of nearly 1000 studies presented to the American College of Forensic Psychiatry in 1998, found that "all but 18 demonstrated that screen violence leads to real violence, and 12 of those 18 were funded by the television industry. In 1992, the American Psychological Association concluded that 40 years of research on the link between TV violence and real-life violence has been ignored, stating that the ‘scientific debate is over' and calling for federal policy to protect society."

Less research has been conducted on the effect of other offensive television content on other behavior. Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that sexuality and language are also significantly affected by television. Professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics have drawn links between television's depictions of sexuality and real-life behaviors.

A 1995 poll of children 10 to 16 years of age showed that children recognize that "what they see on television encourages them to take part in sexual activity too soon, to show disrespect for their parents, [and] to lie and to engage in aggressive behavior."

Let me encourage you to take a look at the special report issued by the Parents Television Council. It's entitled "What a Difference a Decade Makes" and can be found on their web site ( It provides a clear statistical analysis of the decline of television standards and an overview of the relevant studies documenting the effect of televised sex and violence.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.