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Media Violence and Children - Essay Example

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Today, it has evolved into a source of instantaneous information through various avenues, such as television, radio, newspaper, internet, and social media. Although media has…
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Media Violence and Children
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Jessica Castro Jarrar EN 102 22 April Media’s Effect on Adolescents Media began in 45,000 B.C with the carvings on a tooth of a wooly mammoth (“The Prehistoric Era”). Today, it has evolved into a source of instantaneous information through various avenues, such as television, radio, newspaper, internet, and social media. Although media has revolutionized connectivity with one another, it has handicapped society’s ability to present moral and ethical judgment to today’s youth. While, there are acknowledged positive effects, media violence has fundamentally emerged as a major obstacle that parents encounter in raising children. Its negative impact is beyond the scope of simple parenting skills. The situation requires vigilant engagement and extra effort on the part of parents so that this issue is effectively addressed. Parents must be involved in choosing the kind of media that their children are exposed to. Increased activism also becomes imperative. Parents should call for a mechanism of control and even some censorship, in addition to a standardized filtering system from policymakers.
Media’s Influence Today
Media Content and Viewing Frequency
Media is an omnipresent factor in the lives of many people. It can be accessed easily by the public at any time and on their terms. The question becomes is society conscious of what is being delivered to them through these media sources. For example, individuals tend to turn on television for background noise during everyday chores. This is when adolescent may begin watching negative content unintentionally. Consequently, it is important to evaluate media content daily and discover if there is true value to what is seen or heard.
Even cartoons, typically stereotyped as being innocent in nature, illustrate overly animated characters freely engaging in violence with no concern for consequences. In the classic cartoon, Tom and Jerry, the mouse plots various schemes of violence to stop a cat from catching him. Unrealistically and comically, this show encourages adolescents to devise vengeful tactics. Additionally, it portrays violence to be humorous and acceptable. If peer pressure were a factor in the lives of adolescents, they would be inclined to try a drug since in many movies and television shows drugs are practically advertised. In the show Weeds, the normalcy factor is not eliminated when the mother herself is a drug dealer who uses her children as a means of dispensary. There are many television shows that portray different scenarios, all in which we must caution ourselves in the sense that adolescents are immature.
Sex and drugs are also prominent fixtures in violent media. In the popular television show Teen Moms on MTV network, teenagers are featured taking care of babies, which may indicate to adolescents that it is okay to have such responsibility at such a young age. MTV is just among the many channel that thrive by offering sex contents and explicit language. The Internet is a case in point. Pornographic channels and drug-use theme abound and they aggressively promote themselves and could be found advertised in the most innocent websites.
Consequences of Viewing Media
The aforementioned television shows are examples of how addicting and misleading media is. In fact, a child watches “28 hours of TV weekly, seeing as many as 8,000 murders by the time he or she finishes elementary school at age 11, and worse, the killers are depicted as getting away with the murders” ("Violence in the Media”). This statistic shows that too much time is being devoted to an activity that is difficult to regulate and may lead to serious consequences. Possible consequences include bullying, low academic performance, increased dropout rates, and crime.
Media can cloud adolescents’ judgment and influence them to act on impulse more than usual. The Bullying Statistics of 2010 indicates that “2.7 million students [are] being bullied each year by about 2.1 students taking on the role of the bully” (Bullying Statistics 2010). This statistic is alarming, since bullying is a precursor to other problems. Normally, intelligence is valued in society; however, nowadays the media influences adolescents to ostracize gifted students. For example on the Disney channel the television show Shake It Up, a student was bullied for being gifted and having the ability to skip grades. Every time the child walked into the classroom he was taunted by other peers. The objective of the show did not mention that the taunting was wrong; rather it encouraged a retaliation tactic on the victims’ part.
Another piece of evidence showing the effect of media is mentioned in the article, “Gifted and Tormented.” Sandra Boodman describes the torture intelligent students endure, at the hand of bullies (par.3). As it was shown in the Disney channel example, “regular kids get bullied too, but gifted kids are bullied based on their school performance, which makes the childs strength into a weakness” (par.9). Essentially, adolescents are encouraged to criticize human beings’ weaknesses and develop signs of ignorance for what is accepted in society. Media violence promotes this phenomenon because the audience, especially, the young minds because the content conveys an idea that violence is an acceptable behavior especially in resolving conflicts.
Social media is an ever-growing problem among adolescents. In The Washington Post article, “Schoolyard Face-Offs Blamed on Facebook Taunts,” Daniel De Vise focuses on the bullying which resulted from threats started online through Facebook or MySpace (par.1). He explains how bullying is started online, and then finished off in school. An example given is of a Sherwood High School freshman who fought over a Facebook message numbering the reasons why other students hated him (De Vise par.5). De Vises’ article indicates that students begin their bullying through social media which escalates into the classroom, putting the lives of students as well as faculty members at risk.
Increased bullying may lead to a high number of student absences as well as low academic performance. “Each day 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied” (“Bullying Statistics”). This statistic illustrates that bullying is a prominent factor among adolescents and is directly correlated to academic performance. For instance, a UCLA study was conducted in eleven Los Angeles public middle schools and included 2,300 students, on the performance level of bullying victims. It was found that the two were intertwined in relevance, causing students to neglect their studies and receive lower grades as a result. Victims were also less inclined to participate in class as they were fearful of future bullying acts. Unfortunately, teachers interpreted this behavior as a lack of effort from the adolescents being bullied (Par.6 & 7).
Parenting Skills and Recommendations
Parenting is a critical factor in the degree and kind of the impact that media violence has on children. One should remember that environment could minimize or aggravate the development of an individual. According to Freedman (2002), bad home life that results in poor parenting puts children at risk of becoming aggressive and of engaging in criminal activity (141). This is especially true in raising adolescents in this media age. Controlling the amount of harmful content is difficult and parents must have the patience and vigilance to do this. Otherwise, they are exposing their children to the risk factors that could lead to violent personality or juvenile delinquency in their children.
Essentially, parents must to practice healthy media habits. A kid-friendly network, PBS, recommends spending time with children as they watch television, which will start open discussions between family members to help interpret media’s messages in a healthy manner (Children and TV…).
Additionally, parents should limit the number of hours spent watching television and increasing outdoor play. In the article Too Much TV Makes Kids Fat And Stupid by News Staff, “researchers conclude” that television is the culprit for many adolescents “sedentary lifestyle”. By reducing television viewing times, it will benefit a child’s activeness, but also allow them to build friendships with other adolescents. Another emerging factor that is currently trending is social networking sites, it is a popular utensil among adolescents, which restrains actual interpersonal connection making most people “antisocial” (Harke). Sociability is an essential aspect that must be acquired in order to sustain any sort of relationship. Lastly, parents should implement and control television sets as well as computers with Parental Control options. For instance Comcast offers Constant Guard to generate specific rating selections for adolescents. Furthermore, since the internet is a major problem among adolescents, a service by NetNanny.com allows parents to review what website their children had viewed.
Finally, parents should work with school administrators to strengthen no tolerance policy for any acts of violence. In all public schools the Zero Tolerance policy is active in handling adolescents who have committed an act of violent or threatening behavior, through detention, suspension or expulsion. Adolescents who are aware that their actions have consequences would be less inclined to commit the act. It is obligatory for parents to emphasize the healthy co-existence of peers, elders, and public, in order to prevent hostile or serious incidents from occurring.
Some general recommendations to parents would be to consult the Motion Picture Association of America of MPAA ratings when deciding how to control their child’s exposure to violence. MPAA classifies films according to its thematic content and their suitability for specific audiences. The rating system must inform the parents’ decision in selecting films that are allowed for viewing. Media curfews should be set in place to discourage adolescents from viewing content carelessly and freely. Also, support groups should be provided for those who become victims of violence, have become bullies, or come from broken and violent homes. This cannot be said enough—parental supervision should be present when a child is watching television at all times. Adolescents are prone to interpret content in skewed ways; therefore, guidance is needed especially at a young age.
Rebuttal
There are sectors who argue that media violence can be beneficial to children. For instance, violent content may cause a reverse effect, meaning it can inspire children to be benevolent. A case in point is the television show, such as Superman, it demonstrates violence in a way that stops a possible crime. Adolescents develop a sense of vigilance and may contribute to the overall wellbeing of society. Also, the popular Power Rangers television show featured characters using violence to fight villains, inspiring children to stand up for what is right. The idea is that violent content is unfairly demonized. Those who argue this point further support their argument by stating that there is still no study or statistics that reveal direct positive relationship between media violence and undesirable behavior among children. For example, the study of Carillo-Benett – through an extensive evaluation of available literature on the subject and her own study – found that media violence and violent behavior have shown no clear relationship (52).
There are also individuals who point out that the portrayal of violent media has been largely one-sided. There are violent content that positively effect individuals. For example, video gamers can attest to how popular games with violent content can excite their minds and help them acquire problem-solving, analytical and estimation skills in the process. For example, a group of teenagers called Syndicates exists in an online game called Eden Eternal. These are a group of players who established their own small organization under the game’s Guild System with the aim of surviving and competing in the digital community within the game. Here, they learn concepts such as leadership, economics, strategy and socialization.
Some assumptions to be made of this topic are that there is lack of knowledge and concern for the issue. This could be because the consequences do not directly affect certain audiences. Additionally, this audience could be composed of bullies, who do not wish to change their ways because they are a product of a negative upbringing. The fact is that children identify with the violent characters portrayed in the media. Such affinity accounts for the degree of support and the ambivalent attitudes towards it. To acknowledge the opposing argument, it is deduced that media violence does have an effect on adolescents; whether it is negative or positive is open to debate.
Conclusion
Media violence and exposure to it is an important issue to the children in the school systems, the parents of these children, the general public, and the school system overall. It poses a great danger to adolescents, by exposing them to content that encourages aggressive behavior. Bullying incidents are clear examples how media encourages violence among children. Those who oppose this position disagree on the grounds that there is no definitive findings that link media violence and aggressive behavior. In addition, media violence can supposedly transform children into stronger individuals. However, out of all the points raised by this paper, it is clear that the negative consequences far outweigh the benefits it provides.
Today, with the absence of a standard filtering mechanism and governmental regulation, it is up to parents and their children to determine what is acceptable to watch. That is why it is a difficult task. Society is saturated by the media today – film, television, magazines, the Internet, etc. Covering all these is a daunting task. But it does not mean that it cannot be addressed. There are tools available that can help parents filter content. Most importantly, however, we can radically reduce the amount of exposure by calling for some degree of censorship. It is a matter of importance to a parent to concern themselves with nourishing their children with media that molds them into mature individuals.
Works Cited
"Bullying Statistics 2010." - Bullying Statistics. 2010. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. .
Boodman, Sandra. "Gifted and Tormented." The Washington Post.16 May 2006: HE01. WashingtonPost.com. 16 May 2006. Web. 20 April 2012. Carillo, Danelle. Public Violent Events, Female Adolescent Violent Behavior, and Residential Treatment. Ann Arbor, ProQuest, 2009.
"Children And TV Violence | American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry." American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. AACAP Organization, Mar. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. .
De Vise, Daniel. "Schoolyard Face-Offs Blamed on Facebook Taunts." The Washington Post. 27 Apr. 2008: C01. WashingtonPost.com. 27 Apr. 2008. 20 April 2012 dyn/content/article/2008/04/26/AR2008042601286.html> Freedman, Jonathan. Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression: Assessing the Scientific Evidence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. Print.
Harke Ed.D., Brian. "Is Social Media Making Us Anti-Social?" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 June 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. .
"The Prehistoric Era." Media History Project : U of M. Regents of the University of Minnesota, 18 May 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. . Read More
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