PSY101: Introduction to Psychology
June 22, 2015
Violence in the Media and Children’s Behavior
In society today it seems children are becoming more violent, on average children watch four hours of television daily. Television can be an influence in shaping a child’s behavior and level of aggressiveness. Unfortunately, much of today's media has a lot of involvement that is inappropriate and violent. With every school shooting reported and every violent act committed by children a question comes to mind; does violence in the media contribute to violent behavior in children? Some researchers believe that children who view media violence are more likely to have increased feelings of anger and decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence. Unfortunately, violent media are all too common in daily entertainment for children.
The early years of a child’s life are the most important in his or her development. A loving home with positive role models will help a child begin and live a happier and more fulfilled life. Children are watching and learning to form their personality from the images they see and experience, allowing a child to watch prolonged amounts of violent media leaves an imprint that not positive and causes them to become desensitized and aggressive. LeFrancois, G. (2011) explains, “Mass media provides potent role models that influence children, teens, and adults. Correlation studies link children's aggressive patterns of behavior with television. A diet of televised violence tends to reduce restraints over aggression, and desensitize people to violent acts. The effects of violent videogames may leave even a greater residue of brutality.” Minimizing the time our children spend in front of the television, video games, computer, etc. will minimize the images of violence.
The amount of exposure children experience can make a huge impact on their perception of violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports, “American children between 8 and 18 years of age spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes each day using entertainment media (television, commercial or self-recorded video, movies, video games, print, radio, recorded music, computers, and the Internet).13 Children between 0 and 6 years of age spend an average of almost 2 hours each day using screen media (television, movies, computers).” A large amount of this time is spent being exposed to media violence. Researchers believe this exposure can lead to mental illness, aggressive behavior, bullying, and desensitization to violence, and depression. Exposure to media violence influences children, they learn by observing, imitating, and adopting behaviors. Children can’t distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality therefore violence affects their beliefs and behavior. Parents and also pediatricians should be more aware of the time children are exposed to media violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “Limit screen time (including television, videos, computer and video games) to 1 to 2 hours per day, using the V-chip, and avoiding violent video games (deﬁned as games that include intentional harm to other game characters, including cartoonish or unrealistic violence as well as realistic or gory violence). Limiting the exposure time children spend viewing media violence will help children become productive adults.
We need to consider the stages of a child’s development and other factors such as cultural, family, and community situations. As children develop social skills being aggression to solve problem does not come natural. Wilson, B. J. (2008) explains, “Both fictional and news programming can cause lasting emotional upset, though the themes that upset children differ according to a child's age. Wilson also explores how media exposure affects children's social development. Strong evidence shows that violent television programming…