Violence on TV: Legislation or parental responsibility?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the USA has concluded that Hollywood isn’t doing enough to protect children from viewing violent programming on cable and satellite TV, and that Congress should authorise government action.

Unsurprisingly, the TV networks aren’t keen to bend to this kind of pressure.

There’s plenty of talk on both sides about what the right thing to do is.

Interestingly, from a British perspective, I wasn’t aware that US cable and satellite providers tend to serve up a complete package of channels to their subscribers. One of the FCC’s recommendations is that customers can opt out from channels that they don’t want, or select from various cut-down packages. Generally, in the UK, this is how things work with Sky and Virgin anyway.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) view is that monitoring what children watch on TV is the parents’ responsibility.

This is a tricky issue.

I do believe that, ultimately, parents have the overall say and responsibility for what gets piped in to their house, via any type of media, and what their kids are exposed to.

I also believe that broadcasters should have some obligation not to put out objectionable material at times that are obviously going to reach a lot of children.

Having said that, in an increasing age of 24/7 cable and satellite TV, personal video recorders, TV over the Internet, and such like, the concept of a ‘watershed’ seems very outdated, and nigh impossible to implement.

Technological solutions exist which aim to help parents to lock or limit what their children can watch, but they can only do so much.

I believe that the best method of protecting children can come from parents:

1. Not allowing children to have a TV in their room – this can be negotiated as they become teenagers.
2. Watching TV with their children, and interacting with them.
3. Talking about any difficult or upsetting material calmly with their children if the situation arises.
4. Instilling their values and ideals through lifestyle, but ultimately realising that growing children will discover the world and media by themselves.

Whether there’s a place for violent content on TV at all is a whole different debate, but parents have the ultimate responsibility for educating and protecting their children.

What do you think?

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