Children and the Media Essay

Submitted By abigail-landry
Words: 1785
Pages: 8

Children and the Media We live in a world and society that revolves around media, now more than ever. Children are inundated with violent images due to media surrounding them consistently throughout their everyday lives. Children are progressively becoming more aggressive as each generation progresses. Some believe that this is in direct correlation to violence becoming more prominent throughout the media. Most of the research that has been done has focused on the idea that viewing violence in the media makes children more violent. The public sometimes misinterprets this issue to the question of whether viewing media violence causes violence. The real question is however, whether viewing violence contributes to the likelihood that an overexposed child will commit violence or if the severity of the violence is increased when it is committed. Every child learns and interprets things differently, this includes what they see on television, movies and video games. Most children partake in observational learning, which is when a child learns by imitating what they see. Observational learning is sometimes also referred to as modeling, shaping, and vicarious reinforcement. While it can take place at any point in life, it tends to be the most common during childhood. There are many main factors that influence observational learning. However, involving the media, children are more likely to imitate people/characters who receive awards for their violent behavior and people/characters who are admired and glamorized. (Levin)

Another commonly discussed psychological process involving media violence is desensitization. Desensitization is the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. Children under seven years of age have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. When young children see somebody stabbed, shot, raped, tortured, or murdered on television, to them it is as though it were actually happening. They use what they have learned from a fictional show about good guys and bad guys and about weapons and fighting to interpret something they hear about real-world violence. (Waheed) Imagine having a child under seven watch a “splatter” movie/show, learning to relate to and ‘connect’ with a character for the first part of the movie/show and then in the last part watch vulnerably as that new ‘friend’ is hunted down and brutally murdered. To the child, this is the psychological equivalent of letting a child play with a friend that was recently introduced to them, and then severely hurting the friend right in front of the child. Age eight is usually the age in which children can differentiate fantasy and reality. Experts call this turning point the “age of reason”. (Glicken) Although children this age grasp the concept of special effects, their brains are still not mature enough to handle realistic depictions of violence. They do not make logical casual connections. Children focus on the action and excitement of the fighting. Also, they only focus on one aspect at a time, and not the big picture. Children’s thinking is more like a series of separate slides rather than like a movie or a show. They do not look at the whole picture- like the context for the fighting, why there is fighting and what may be the potential outcomes. While watching violence, children focus on the dramatic, concrete aspects of the situation- not the more abstract concepts underlying the problem. The fighting and the weapons are what children are fascinated by, not the fundamental issue in the story being told. Television is a form of media that surrounds us in our everyday lives. There are televisions everywhere; in our homes, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc. With thousands of channels, commercials and the “On Demand” feature, children are bound to be