To ensure a child’s healthy psychological development, you should have a mind about the effects of media violence on children. This is especially important nowadays when the media became an integral part of the life of almost every child. This text presents 8 things about media violence and children that every parent needs to know.
1. Media violence has impacts on children for real.
Numerous studies have shown that media violence has impacts on children. A famous psychologist Bandura has concluded that children imitate media violent behaviour and even after a long time of watching it. Also, it’s a greater inclination to behave violently during play after watching the program. Thinking about children’s imitative play that should not surprise us at all. They wipe the dust like the mothers, drive a car like the fathers or fly and jump like cartoon characters…
Unfortunately, there are many real situations to serve as examples of how media violence influence children. In Israel, a seven-year-old boy screamed before jumping out of the window: “Look how the Superman is flying!”. He broke his spine. In Thailand, a nine-year-old hanged imitating a scene from a series which show the murder by hanging. Each of us can probably remember similar cases that the media reported. Such new reports often dramatise the event and blame the media as the sole cause.
2. An average, children and adolescents in the U.S. spend seven and a half hours a day using various forms of entertainment media.
Also, an average youth of America will meet 200,00 violent acts on television before age 18; 97% of American teens play video games 13 hours per week on average; 91% of movies on television contained violence; …
If we choose the definition of violence as a deliberate injuries to another being or property (some may extend it by accidental injuries, such as unfortunate cases, as well as violence in the animal world) and if we include verbal violence, we conclude that many obvious elements of violence are in almost all media forms (western, detective, crime, drama, news, cartoons, advertisements, show programs,…).
3. It’s very important to pay attention not only to the media violence amount but on the circumstances under which they are being played also.
Often, the media show violence acts in which violent characters are not punished for their actions. Also, media often don’t show the emotional or economic consequences of violence and don’t criticise or consider nonviolent options for solving the problem. You shouldn’t show such programs to children. In cases where we can not avoid such scenes, say in the cinema, you must neglect and discuss with the child about it. Why is this important? Children learn by model and corroboration. Programs that contain violence give children many ideas for certain violent practices. Obviously, many media programs teach that violent behaviour is good by receiving rewards for it. Justifying violent behaviour is a significant problem. It increases the chances that children imitating it and suggests to children what society values are.
4. The effects of media violence on children depend on their development.
Children with behavioural, social, cognitive and emotional difficulties are more prone to the negative effects of media violence. In addition, they may have more difficulty to understand the program content. Also, studies show that they are more ready to accept violence that they encounter on media as a solution for their problem.
5. The effects of media violence on children depend on their current mood.
What child is more irritate (for example, frustrated, hungry, etc.) there is a greater possibility that media violence increase even more child’s a bad mood. The same level of media violence can affect differently even the same child, depending on the current child’s mood while watching the program.
6. Media violence has a different impact on boys and girls.
Generally, girls enjoy less violence than boys, are much more critical when they are concerned, react with more emotions to violence and show signs of fear. These differences become more pronounced at the age of about ten years. That is probably because of the strengthening of gender identity and the growing awareness of what society considers appropriate behaviour for men or women.
However, girls begin to show more and more interest in media violence. This is connected with a new trend of representing women in characters which previously belong just to men. Yes, the media often show men as rapists than women, while women often represent as victims. But, there is an increasing number of women, both in the program for children and adult program, which appears in energetic roles. In media, usually, women are sexy aggressors powerful in the police world and scientific fantasy.
7. The effects of media violence on children depend primarily on their family’s environment!
The family’s system of values, especially their attitudes toward violence, determines the effects of media violence on children. Children from functional families where no violence, watch fewer media violence. Also, media violence has less influence on them. Accordingly, the children from families where physical punishment is used to show more prone to such influences. So, for protection children of media violence influence, the parents are crucial. If you don’t use violence, probably, your child will not use it too, even though he/she watch violence on media. Of course, beside to your not violent behaviour, you must develop critical thinking about using media in the child.
8. Media didn’t invent violence, media is only used for showing it.
It’s impossible to isolate a child from violence. Facing violence is a part of life, even childhood. Watching violence allows children to experiment with different feelings, such as fears and discomfort. That can help them to create a definition of good and evil, or what is allowed and forbidden. In fact, a part of growing up involves the development of a defence mechanism against unpleasant apps of life. Unfortunately, that apps include violence.
At the end…
Obviously, media violence can cause behavioural problems in children. But, media isn’t the only factor. The effects of media violence on children influence with a vast number of other factors, like the parents, schools, cultural values of the society, society as a whole. On the other hand, if it’s possible to adopt negative media behaviour, does this mean that it’s possible to adopt positive, prosocial behaviour, too?
Media that affect positively on children are those who promote cooperation, empathy, and the like.