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NCJ Number
Date Published
177 pages
This 1971 report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior confirmed the pervasive role television plays in the United States and the importance of considering the effect of television violence on youth.
The committee was comprised of behavioral scientists who found that television in the average home was on more than 6 hours a day. Most adults and children reported watching at least 2 hours daily. The propensity to view television changed as the individual matured. Frequent viewing usually began at about 3 years of age and remained relatively high until 12 years of age. Viewing then typically began to decline, reaching its low point during the teenage years. When young people married and had families, the time they spent watching television tended to increase and then remain stable through the middle adult years. After middle age when grown children left home, the amount of television viewing rose again. Studies of media content found that violence was a prominent component of television programming. The general prevalence of violence on television did not change markedly between 1967 and 1969, although violence increased over the period in cartoons and comedies. The frequency of violent programs appeared to be related to program popularity. Various research studies, experiments, and surveys determined that television violence preceded aggressive behavior and that patterns of family communication and punishment seemed to relate to television viewing and aggressive behavior. Supplemental information on the committee's evaluation of televised violence and social behavior is appended. References, tables, and figures