Buffet-style TV most effective for cutting violence out of viewing

Violence has become a part of many television shows. It is used in combating terrorists in the popular show “24,” crime-busting in “CSI” or in nightly news reports. Violence has a way of creeping into the media and making an impact. Viewers should have the option to avoid blood, guts and gore as they surf through a sea of channels.The Federal Communications Commission has tried to fight the growing violence on television by promoting the v-chip, a device that picks up a coded rating from TV shows and blocks whatever rating it is told to. About 15 percent of all parents use this device as a means of blocking unsuitable content for their children, according to a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Foundation. The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that the v-chip’s effectiveness is limited because most parents are clueless about the rating system. About 28 percent of parents with children ages 2 to 6 years old know that the rating Y7 means that the content is suitable for children more than 7 years old. Another rating, FV for “fantasy violence,” is only recognized by 12 percent of parents. In its constant battle against television violence, the FCC has devised two more options in a recent report: limiting material deemed violent to a certain time of night or a way of choosing cable and satellite channels.

The best way to go about this would be to choose satellite and cable channels. The suggested “a la carte” method of programming would help people choose what they want to be exposed to. If viewers do not want to watch shows about plastic surgery because the shows are too gory, viewers can decide for themselves. The FCC would not be taking away any of our rights in doing that; instead they would allow us to have freedom of choice. “TV Guide” conducted a poll in which 57 percent of those polled noticed “an increase in offensive material on television lately.”

The other method the FCC came up with, banning violence to nighttime, would not be as effective as the “a la carte” method. About 54 percent of children have a television set in their own bedrooms, making it easy to view violent shows after bedtime hours according to a study by the University of Kansas. Children can get pretty sneaky about watching programs their parents do not approve of because about 44 percent of children in that same study watch different programs when parents are watching with them than they watch when they are completely unchaperoned. That method merely makes parents sleep better at night but does not provide a permanent solution.

Parents should wake up because according to Leonard Eron, senior research scientist at the University of Michigan, 10 percent of all youth violence is influenced by the violence seen on television. The American Psychiatric Association says that by age 18, children and teens in the United States will have been exposed to 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders enacted on the television.

Methods like ratings and the v-chip were designed for viewing safety. Since the number of v-chip users and the amount of consumers that know what the ratings actually mean are low, picking and choosing programming would be ideal. The “a la carte” method gives viewers the power of choice. It makes television a buffet where one can choose only what they want and do not have to partake in what they do not.

Hayley Freeman is a freshman English major from Fort Worth. Her column appears Wednesdays.