Beware of the ‘Copycat Effect’!
Television can be an educational tool. It can show us what is happening at distances far beyond the range of normal vision and, at times, provide wholesome entertainment. Yet, according to Eric Moonman, author of The Violent Society, television also plays a role in the modern-day collapse of law and order. Writing in The Independent of London on TV’s connection with violence, Moonman says: “If there is one single influence above all others, research points to the copycat or halo effect.” What does he mean?
“The 1981 [inner-city] riots [in England] were televised as they happened,” he explains. “Their pattern was repeated day after day. I visited a number of the trouble centres where, during interviews with teenagers, the significance of the copycat crime became clear to me. TV made it look easy, they knew what kind of things to do.” Moonman noted that after the riots, “a clear reflection of scenes witnessed on television” could be seen in the outbursts of street violence that occurred in other parts of the country.—Italics ours.
With the world’s international conflicts visible right in people’s living rooms, tension heightens as they observe these events taking place. True, “television cannot yet decide who wins a war,” explains Moonman, “but it can already decide who we think is winning.”
How can you protect your family from the possible bad effects of television? First, establish a clear family policy for your viewing. Then, set appropriate limits as to the content and quantity of what is watched. And when news scenes depicting violence appear, remember that the world’s lawlessness is not worthy of imitation. Heed the advice: “Be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding.”—1 Corinthians 14:20.