Online College Courses for Credit

Violence on TV

Violence on TV

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Gain an understanding of how conflict and violence are created in TV sitcoms and dramas.
  • Explain the difference between gratuitous violence, purposeful violence, and verbal violence.
  • Analyze what it means to become desentized to violence.
  • Critique a prime time TV show and analyze the rating given to it by the Parents Television Council.

This packet presents basic information about TV sitcoms and dramas. It discusses the amount of conflict and violence that can be seen in a 40 minute program and explains the difference between gratuitous violence, purposeful violence, and verbal violence. This packet briefly discusses the impact of TV violence on viewers and what it means to become desentized to violence.

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Background Information


Source: PTC State of the Television Industry Report

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the difference between purposeful violence and gratuitous violence?
  2. What is an example of purposeful violence that might be shown in a TV drama?
  3. T/F? An hour-long television drama is about 44 minutes long, when you subtract the time given to advertisements during the program.
  4. T/F? According to the statistics, the average child spends more time in school per week than they do watching TV.
  5. T/F? Dramas are more likely to be set in the workplace than at home and they often "glamorize" certain jobs.
  6. T/F? According to the information, one should remember that in most television dramas, the creators of the program did not have to use violence--they decided to.
  7. T/F? Every child who is exposed to a lot of televised violence is going to grow up to be violent.
  8. T/F? Young children have difficulty discriminating between real life and fantasy.
  9. What is the central theme of a television drama?
  10. By the time an average child is 18 years old, she will witness ______________ acts of violence, including 40,000 murders on TV.
  11. Lt. Col. David Grossman explains: "Violence is like the nicotine in cigarettes. The reason why the media has to pump ever more violence into us is because we've built up a tolerance. In order to get the same high, we need ever-higher levels&the television industry has gained its market share through an addictive and toxic ingredient." Consider the above quote. What does it mean to become desensitized? Do you agree? Explain.
  12. Knowing what you do about violence on TV, pretend that you are a parent of a 9 year old. Do you regulate what your child can watch on TV? Do you try to limit his exposure to violence on TV or do you let him watch whatever, whenever?  Explain.
  13. Go to the following web site and scroll through the weekly guide to prime time television.

    Choose one show to write about. What is your show rated? Why?  Do you agree with the rating? If not, what rating would you give it? Explain.