Parents across Florida spent a week watching television recently, and here's what they saw: threats and violence, 7.1 times per hour.
Florida Education Commissioner Doug Jamerson and Kay Luzier, president of the Florida Parent-Teacher Association, released Wednesday the results of a study that showed the average number of violent incidents on television shows was 6.8 per hour in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The statewide average was 7.1.
"These results are truly discouraging," Jamerson said.
Jamerson said one disturbing finding was that, "Of the programs with the highest incidence of perceived violence, the vast majority are animated programs, manufactured for kids to watch before their parents get home."
The study said the most violent cartoons were Bonkers, Captain Planet, Batman, Looney Toons and Tom & Jerry. They had 16 to 19 incidents per half-hour. MTV's Beavis & Butt-Head ranked 10th on the list, with 8.8 incidents per half-hour.
The most violent non-animated shows proved to be Code 3, Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Get Smart, Now and Terror in the Night, according to the study. They featured eight to 14 violent incidents per half-hour.
Jamerson admitted that the study results, gathered by volunteers, "don't have a huge degree of scientific validity." Nonetheless, Jamerson and Luzier said the big picture is clear _ kids see too much violence, on TV as well as in their neighborhoods.
That's why Jamerson said more parents need to just say no to television. He encouraged parents to switch off the TV and find activities they can share with their children.
That's not easy, with more parents working longer hours. "There used to be a time when all of us would sit around the dinner table and talk," Jamerson said.
At the very least, parents should spend five or 10 minutes every day with the youngsters, asking how their day went, he said.
To do the study, more than 300 PTA volunteers spent five days in January watching all shows between 3 and 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MTV and Nickelodeon.
The survey also turned up some programs that featured no acts of violence, including: A Different World, Baywatch, Cafe Americain, Cosby Show, Guts, Hearts Afire, Jeopardy, John & Leeza, Monty and Wheel of Fortune.
Violence by program
Florida parents who monitored TV for a week recorded the average number of violent acts in 30 minutes:
19.1 _ Bonkers, Fox
19.0 _ Captain Planet, TBS
17.3 _ Batman, Fox
16.8 _ Looneytoons, Nickelodeon
16.5 _ Tom & Jerry, Fox
14.9 _ Tinytoons, Fox
12.8 _ Animaniacs, Fox
10.8 _ Bullwinkle, Nickelodeon
10.0 _ Goof Troop, Fox
8.8 _ Beavis & Butthead, MTV
14.2 _ Code 3, Fox
11.0 _ Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Fox
10.1 _ Get Smart, Nickelodeon
8.9 _ Now, NBC
8.0 _ Terror in the Night, CBS
7.9 _ Day One, ABC
7.5 _ MTV
7.4 _ Hunter, ABC
7.0 _ In Living Color, Fox
6.7 _ Dateline, NBC
by the hour
Incidents of violence on television in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area by hour.
4-5 p.m. 8.8
5-6 p.m. 2.2
6-7 p.m. 11.3
7-8 p.m. 12.3
8-9 p.m. 6.3
9-10 p.m. 3.7
10-11 p.m. 5.4
Source: PTA, Florida Department of Education