March 16, 2005
Media & Adolescence
Concern about children and violence through the media has a long history. The attention is divided between the two sides which view media as an insignificant problem or the opposite, a threat. Everyone, male or female, white or black, child or adult, are affected and influenced by the media. We learn from television each day, and without the slightest intent do we take after what we see. There is no doubt that children alter their ways of life due to media, and more than ever do I think it is for the worse.
Parents are their children’s most important teachers. If one is not around, the other is. What if both are not home? Let’s say they are both employed, a cliched 9-5 job, who is home then? We live in an era where both parents are often working and children have more unsupervised time. The child has no one to turn to but the television set, and if one parent is home, it is likely the child will continue to be in this scenario where the television is concerned. Fact: The average American child will have watched 100,000 acts of televised violence including 8,000 depictions of murder, by the time he or she is 13 years of age. (LtCol) With 28 hours of television per week, one cannot help but to parallel the two, television and its impact on violence. (Beckman)
Truthfully, I believe that the media has done its job to increase hostility among the world’s youth. Numerous studies have demonstrated that children will imitate the aggressive behavior they see on television. The way in which violence is portrayed may suggest to children that violence is the best or only way to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Why not punch this kid that’s bothering me, if the Power Rangers can do it, why not me?’ Much of this type of thinking evolves into the thought process of children. One must take into consideration the age differences in which research is being done as well as what they think as younger or older children that watch television.
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As a seventeen year old, if I were to start watching a Jackie Chan film, or anything along the lines of Kill Bill, it would not affect me so much. For one, I am old enough to know that these movies are unrealistic and mature enough to realize that I would not put myself in this type of situation. However, for a seven or eight year old boy that surrounds himself with Dragon Ball Z, The Roadrunner, and even Tom ; Jerry, will be more likely to accept what he watches. In other words, because he is young and naive, his eyes tell him that this is on television, therefore, he can practice it, too.
One particular study that interested me the most was “The Bobo Doll Studies”. Here, a group of pre-school children watched a film in which an adult kicked, punched, and threw about a four foot tall, inflatable Bobo the Clown doll, not to mention using a hammer to hit it in the face. First, 1/3 of those children saw a film that ended with the adult, who performed the kicking, being rewarded for his actions. One-third of the group saw just the opposite, the adult was being punished. The last group did not even see the film. Next, they were all put into a room to do as they pleased. This room, however, included Bobo, as well as other toys to play with. Those children, who saw the adult being rewarded after acting out as the aggressor toward Bobo the clown, imitated his actions using their hands and feet to punch and kick the toy, as well as the use of the hammer. The second group who observed the adult being punished was less likely to abuse the clown. (Bandura) As for the last group, they were most likely to play with whatever amused them, no real violence involved, thus proving that a child acts upon observations of another person’s reward or punishment because of their actions, and not his/her own.
As I read and interpret the information and research shown, I think why not prevent all of this, and decrease violence all together. Yes, it sounds easier said than done, but it is as though not enough drive or perseverance is being put into the situation. In 1990, Congress passed the Children’s Television Act to improve educational programming for children. Congress recognized that television has a significant impact on children, and that it can be used as a tool to help young people learn specific skills. While all of this is true, as it is educational and in good intent, more violent shows are receiving the ratings they want than the “educational” shows. How often does one see or talk about The Reading Rainbow, Beakman’s World, or School House Rock anymore? Most of the shows were cancelled due to low ratings. While the government should be pushing the broadcasting of these shows and the elimination of previously mentioned violent shows, most of the shows are protected by the production, in which they have the freedom to broadcast what they like. Also, it is not the job of the government to promote these educational shows. Personally, I feel the parents should be well on their way to making sure shows such as Bill Nye, the Science Guy or Liberty’s Kids, a show that offers episodes of animated American history series, is a part of their everyday lives.
Television is one of, if not the most, popular ways of reaching out to Americans, especially children. If one has the advantage of changing the channel and impacting her child for the rest of his life for the better, why not do it? The government has tried, and should regulate it. After all, they have the power to do so; however, the government cannot step into each family’s home and change the channel. Parents can regulate which channels their children watch, and should, without hesitation, direct their attention to watch what their children are watching.