Source: The Herlad Sun, Thursday, October 27, 1994, p.4
By PAUL DOWSLEY and TERRY BROWN MOST children have been so disturbed by television shows they left the room or changed channels, a major survey has found. And the Australian Broadcasting Authority survey of children's viewing revealed scenes of cruelty to animals and child abuse were the most traumatic. But it found children were less worried about sex and nudity and were only minimally affected by seeing overseas disasters such as earthquakes. Boys were big fans of action shows with guns, cars and fighting while girls preferred programs with teenagers or light kissing. The survey was seized on by the Australian Council for Children's Films and Television as evidence stations failed children by showing too much death and titillation. But the authority instead said the survey proved children were responsible, discriminating and were practising censorship. The study, of 1710 children mainly aged from eight to 12 years and 517 parents, is believed by the authority to be Australia's most comprehensive on the subject. Authority chairman Mr Brian Johns said it would give broadcasters, parents and care- givers an insight into children and television. "This is the International Year of the Family and our research is aimed at giving children a much- needed voice on issues about television," he said. "The ABA has previously conducted research into adult attitudes on the classification issues of violence, offensive language and nudity on television. "This research is important in that it looks at these issues from the child's perspective." The survey found 66 per cent of girls and 44 per cent of boys had been sufficiently upset by a show to stop watching. Children were most distressed by violence against children, animals and fighting in the home. Of those surveyed, 62 per cent watched television every day and a further 27 per cent viewed almost every day. About 58 per cent of children said they watched television be- fore school. More than half said they ate dinner in front of televi- sion. One-third of the boys said they watched television alone and 11 per cent of all children said they could watch whatever they liked. Survey co-author, broadcasting authority senior researcher Ms Milica Loncar said the study was the biggest of its kind. She said it showed children were discerning viewers capable of censorship and most families had viewing rules. "It's very interesting that children are exercising self censorship. If something does come on they don't like, they switch over or leave," Ms Loncar said. But Australian Council for Children's Films and Television president Ms Barbara Biggins said the survey showed self-regulation by television stations was not working. Ms Biggins said news programs were "too busy showing death and destruction, titillating tales and exploitative material, rather than the serious treatment of what's really happened on any given day". "The children's concerns about violence echoes what groups like ours have been saying," she said. "I watched a movie at my slumber party about a man killing people by chopping them in different places with scissors. The reason it scared me was because I'm going on camp next week and the man was killing people at a camp." - Girl, 12 "We usually get our tea when the news is on and therefore I don't like watching it when all the blood and guts and all that sort of stuff is on when you're eating " - Boy, grade 3/4 "I don't like (watching) much kissing. I just like mochineguns and everything." -Boy, grade 1/2 "I feel like I want to get a bazooka and blow the two up and get rid of it because I hate fighting and sometimes I leave the room" -Boy, 10, on fight scenes "It makes me feel sick and I want to leave the room and it sometimes makes me scored and upset." - A girl, 9, commenting on dead bodies and blood on TV "(It) gives me nightmares but keeps you on the lookout for criminals." - Boy, 12, talking about shows based on real criminals Fights, fast cars for boys By TERRY BROWN GUNS, fights, fast cars monsters and gory dead bodies - that's what boys like Girls? They prefer programs about teenagers with perhaps a little kissing. The Australian Broadcasting Authority's survey found broad differences between what girls and boys like on televi-sion. And the results follow sex stereotypes of rough, tough boys and quiet, sensitive girls. Three-quarters of boys said they really liked to watch action movies with fights, guns and car chases. Only one quarter of girls agreed. And boys were much keener on programs showing people being beaten up, 45 per cent really liking to watch them compared with just 6 per cent of girls. Programs showing dead bodies with lots of blood scored top marks with 39 per cent of boys but 11 per cent of girls. More than three times as many boys as girls really liked people using very rude words. Almost four times as many boys as girls liked seeing scantily clad women, although girls and boys were equally unenthusiastic about near- naked men. Programs with kissing and teenagers were the favorite with girls. And girls found violence in families and harm to animals their greatest turn-off. The survey found 71 per cent of girls didn't like programs where it appeared animals were hurt or killed, 71 per cent didn't like parents arguing and fighting and 72 per cent hated seeing children being hurt. About half the boys also found those subjects distressing. Parents watch out CHILDREN watch more television than their parents realise, the Australian Broadcasting Authority survey found. While 53 per cent of children surveyed said they watched before school, only 35 per cent of parents agreed. Parent responses showed 34 per cent of children watched while eating dinner, but 54 per cent of surveyed children said they did. About 32 per cent of children said they were allowed to watch only a certain amount, while 67 per cent of parents said that was the rule.
Where to next?
Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Data Representation
Main Index - Numeracy in the News