Children, Television and American Values.

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

The messages being sent ot he target observation age on this show might clash with what America believes it is teaching its children. There are several underlying racist situations as well as many self-esteem issues with their son. Often times in this show the message of the episode is that the son is an outcast who cannot seem to find his way. He does not fish or hunt well enough to please his father, he does not look good enough to attract females, he is not smart enough to do well in school. If this were presented in a different light than it would be a positive role because the message would be that average is fine. However, this show sends the message to the children that average is not okay and even their father may be ashamed to have an average child. Another negative message sent to children during this show is the gender role issue. In this show the women do not work. Peggy substitute teaches now and again but other than that the females are all home. The niece is portrayed as a dingbat blonde who is having a hard time even getting through beauty school and the next door neighbor is a housewife who has a Native American boyfriend behind her husbands back. She and her husband have a son who looks exactly like the Native American boyfriend. While this message is not one that depicts strong values morally, it is important to remember hat the age of the children in the survey is young enough that they may not have any idea what the nuances are regarding the relationships on the show. Because they are young and it is never bluntly discussed it's possible that they are not going to be harmed by the message.

The show Cops was one that uses real life people and not cartoons. The show is attractive to the group surveyed because they enjoy watching police officers work and they love to watch the "bad guys" get in trouble. Cops is based on a cameraman traveling with patrolmen on their actual shift and filming the events that unfold.

The two episodes watched showed drug dealers being chased and arrested, hookers being arrested and animals being taken out of homes. This show sends extremely mixed messages ot the children but in the end they seem to dovetail with the American value system. The one thing the show may do is make children think that everywhere they turn crime is occurring, because of the fact that the show only airs the action, and not the boring part of the job. However the show gets five stars observationally when it comes to things like gender roles, class relations and other sensitive issues. Gender roles are portrayed in an extremely positive light because the show has female as well as male officers doing identical jobs. On the job the females are shown respect by their peers and the community. The females who are arrested are not any more criminal than the males who are arrested, sending the message that it does not matter if one is a boy or a girl if they commit a crime they will get arrested.

This show displays constant examples of conflict resolution because of its nature. The one aspect of the show that might be a negative factor for the older set of the observational children is that the officers always treat the criminals like they are equal. In the eyes of the law they are, however, when they are seen joking around with them as they handcuff them and laughing with them as they are placed in the police car it may send a message to the children watching that committing crime is no worse than forgetting to pick up one's bedroom. The commercials on the show are geared to families and deal with everyday practical life such as car repair, home repair and other mundane topics. The show has a very catchy theme song that attracts the children to it. During the interview all five of the children began singing the COPS theme of" Bad Boys."

Each of the shows in the research study displayed positive role models when it came to family values, and conflict resolution The cartoon shows also presented conflict resolution in a positive light by presenting the several options available and then choosing the best one for the situation. Each show has gender roles that it portrays with the King of the Hill being the only negative one. Television does affect the way children think, even if it is to want to be a superhero like those they see on television. The shows named in this survey, while initially not designed for children actually give children some positive value lessons. Because of their ages it is possible they are learning from the positive aspects and not understanding the negative such as adultery. King of the Hill does however send a strongly negative gender message to its viewers. American values on television seem to reflect exactly what America currently thinks, the good the bad and the indifferent are all portrayed on these three shows and their commercials.

The children in the five to ten-year-old bracket of age may be affected somewhat by the negative aspects of the cartoon shows. The Simposns show Homer, the father spending a lot of time in a bar. In addition he is praised and admired by many for his ability to get out of performing work at his job in the nuclear plant. While the show gives a positive image to children by having the show's children work hard for their goals the adult role modeling leaves much to be desired where Homer is concerned. He also does not present a very positive message for fathering as he makes it clear he is selfish and his children must come last in his mind. This may send the message that it is okay to treat one's children with a lack of caring and love, however it may also make a child in the world understand that he or she is not the only one who feels this from their father. Each of the shows presents both positive and negative messages when it comes to American values and the children who watch them are going to have to be guided in what they take away…