RALEIGH — The media, particularly movies and television, have taken lots of criticism since theLittleton school shootings, but new technology, in the form of the V-Chip, will help protect children from violence on television.
TheV-Chipwill be found in half the new TV sets sold in the U.S. as of July, just in time for summer viewing.
Kids are out of school and may be watching more television. Many programs they want to watch contain violence, and the V-Chip makes it easier for parents to control children's viewing habits.
"It's a hassle. You have to figure out what's on and what the kids are watching. The whole notion with the V-Chip is can we reduce the cost to a parent of being a better parent," explained James Hamilton, media violence expert.
It remains to be seen whether consumers will rush out to buy new V-Chip sets. Debate on Capitol Hill on the issue brought some stinging comments from those in show business about Hollywood.
"If the people in Hollywood can't be trusted, then they've got to be busted," said actor Bill Cosby.
Taking heat after the Littleton shootings, the networks responded. The WB network canceled an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," andJerry Springerwas ordered by his show's owners to cool things down.
Hamilton, aDuke Universityresearcher, says it will take a while for the V-Chip to make a difference.
"An added problem is that the networks don't have an incentive to get parents to use the rating system or the V-Chip. They're being silent about the whole roll-out," said Hamilton.
In the end, it remains the parents' responsibility to monitor their children whether with the V-Chip or with the power switch.
Only one Triangle retailer WRAL checked with Friday said they have V-Chip sets. The others did not know when they would begin getting the sets.
Any additional cost for the V-Chip, if any, is expected to be minimal.