Children Should Be Protected from The Media Influence

11,517 views

Published on

0 Comments
3 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
11,517
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
215
Comments
0
Likes
3
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Children Should Be Protected from The Media Influence

  1. 1. CHILDREN SHOULD BE PROTECTED FROM MEDIA INFLUENCE By: Yusuf Kurniawan A. Introduction The development of the mass media during the last five decades was very rapid. Especially since the emergence of television broadcasting in the 1930s 1 the effects of the mass media are wide-ranging and extensive. The development and convergence of mass media inevitably brought many impacts that to some extent might endanger some elements of societies, notably children. Even though mass media certainly bring many positive impacts and influences from which people can benefit, their negative impacts are most likely more extensive and inevitable. In this essay I would discuss about whether or not children should be protected from media influence. In this case I want to eliminate my discussion just on television. Even though there are many other media that may have influence on children, I assume that television has more direct and stronger influence towards them. First because television is ubiquitous. It is very rare now to find a household that has no TV set. Even more, there are many households which own more than one television sets. Second, TV is after all still the main home entertainment and simultaneously as news source medium that is capable of portraying moving pictures and sounds --unlike radio that merely features sound or printed media that emphasise printed pictures or images-- so, the effect toward audience is more strongly felt. Third, TV has come into existence much longer than any other audio visual media 1 Crisell, Andrew (1997), An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, Routledge, London, p. 72.
  2. 2. 2 such as VCR, VCD, DVD and Internet. Therefore, the influence and impact of TV toward audience --in this case is children especially-- is probably more penetrating and more deep-rooted compared to other media. Lastly, TV is children’s closest friend at home. Many surveys had been conducted to measure the frequency and amount of time of children for watching TV. And most of the results show that children spent many hours every day for watching TV. For instance according to the report of survey that was done by Johnson (1995), children of 2-11 years in the United States spent more than 28 hours a week for watching television. 2 With these assumptions and supported evidence I would like to argue that it is important to protect children from the influence of TV medium. B. Analysis Since the ancient time people have always been expecting their children to become good persons whom they would be proud of. It is very irrational if there are parents who hope or expect their children to be ‘useless’ people and immoral generation. However, with the convergence and rapid development of mass media and communication technologies it becomes much harder for parents/adults to ‘control’ their children. In one side it becomes easy to educate children but on the other side children become difficult to be guided for there are many temptations and effects of the media. And amongst this acceleration of technology and information era, access to information becomes very easy and fast nearly to anybody, including children. 2 Johnson, Bill (1995), Pulling the plug on television's sex and violence. [On line] Available at: http://www. See also Comstock, George (1993), ‘The Medium and the Society: The Role of Television in American Life’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.125.
  3. 3. 3 a. Children and TV As mentioned before, the tendencies of children should be protected from TV influence seems to be very urgent and become important issue that needs to be coped with. Before discussing the influence of TV medium toward children, it is necessary to know the characteristics of children. I take the range of children’s age here based on Doubleday’s et.al. research, namely between 2-12 years old. 3 During this period children will experience considerably significant cognitive and mental development. Especially children between 2-5 years will show dramatic increases in their visual attention to television. It is driven by their increasing comprehension about television content and form although it is not well-developed. 4 And children’s big attention to comprehend and watch TV programmes will continue until they are 12 years old. After we have known the basic characteristics of children toward television then we will find out what probably are the influences of TV to children. b. Children as active viewers As we have known the characteristics of children, we might say that children actually do not understand the content of a TV programme they watch. Pre-school children mainly have not capability of differentiating many TV programmes like advertisements, films and so on because they merely watch what on the screen are. 5 Moreover, it is also argued by Doubleday and Droege that children do not 3 Doubleday, Catherine N. (1993), ‘Cognitive Developmental Influences on Children’s Understanding of Television’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.23. 4 Doubleday, Catherine N. (1993), ‘Cognitive Developmental Influences on Children’s Understanding of Television’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.32. 5 Ploghoft, Milton E, (1981), Education for the Television Age, Ohio University, Ohio, p.30.
  4. 4. 4 understand what is being televised as adults do. 6 It is also argued by Gauntlett that “Children are the ‘other group’, who do not have the specific type of rationality which is equated with adulthood, but who ---as in most learning theories--- must progress through stages to achieve it.” 7 Children virtually become active viewers since they can perceive and often practise and recite what they had watched and heard from TV. In addition, with their strong remembrance children can easily remember any incidental content of TV programmes. However, children’s cognitive development is not capable yet to interpret more deeply and broadly what they watch on TV screen. In this case Buckingham argues that children are “passive victims of media manipulation.” 8 This is the weakness on children that adults and parents often forget or don’t know. While watching TV children are actually also learning, but it is just incidental learning. It is argued by Lowery et.al. that such learning was defined as “ learning that takes place when a viewer goes to television for entertainment and stores up certain items of information without seeking them.” 9 They argue that children learned while they are entertained. But children usually did not watch TV for informational purposes. c. The impacts of TV on children 6 Doubleday, Catherine N. (1993), ‘Cognitive Developmental Influences on Children’s Understanding of Television’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.23. 7 Gauntlett, David (1996), Video Critical: Children, the Environment and Media Power, University of Luton Press, Luton, p.39. 8 Buckingham, David (1997), ‘Electronic child abuse? Rethinking the media’s effects on children’ in Barker, Martin and Petley, Julian, eds., Ill Effects: the media/violence debate, Routledge, London, p. 32. 9 Lowery, Shearon & DeFleur, Melvin L. (1983), Television in the Life of Our Children: The Early Years. Milestones in mass communication research, Longman Inc., New York, pp. 282- 283.
  5. 5. 5 Although there has not been any exact proof from researches and scientists that TV directly harms children, we need to note that children seem to be vulnerable and very potential to be influenced by this medium. Because based on the above description about the characteristics of children and the length of time they spend watching TV, it has evoked a big concern and warning for adults and parents. The most common influences of TV medium toward children are violence and pornography. - Analysis of violence on TV Violence is the term that often rises whenever we talk about TV medium. Why? Is TV so bad for children? The answer is probably no because TV can also function to educate children. Violence is the term that is often defined in terms of “the intensity or seriousness of the harm-doer’s behaviour that is considered excessive or unrestrained.” 10 Then how can people relate TV with violence? There is a reason why adults and parents especially must give extra attention to their children. Because children are considered vulnerable to violent portrayals, as they are in their early stages of development of their behaviour patterns, attitudes and values about social interaction. 11 It is more often than not violence on TV becomes a hot topic in newspaper headlines and on seminars, focus groups or panel discussions --either regional or international--, talk shows on radio and TV, exposed on newspapers, magazines etc and revealed on many articles on websites. Even this has raised red alert for many big 10 Gunter, Barrie (1985), Dimensions of Television Violence, Gower Publishing Company Ltd., Hants, p.2. 11 Murray, John P. (1993), ‘The Developing Child in a Multimedia Society’in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.13.
  6. 6. 6 countries today, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Even more, they have set up organisations with various members: researchers, media executives and mental health experts etc., that aim to protect children from violence and monitor the intensity and frequency of violence on TV. Violence virtually has very broad meaning; depending on which point of view or perspectives we look at it. Moreover, there are many related factors that embodies its meaning, so that it is very contextual and specific. We cannot consider it having the same meaning in one case with the other. For instance when there is an angry man broke window glass of a car that is parked on the side of the road, people will blame the man and say that he is bad, or the violence is bad. However, in different context, if then the man was caught by the police and he was hit and handcuffed, people will tend to say that the police’s action is good because he saved the car from more serious destruction. Or we can say that is a good violence. Both the man and the police practised ‘violence’, but the way people view the violence is different from one another. It is mostly based on who did the violence and what the violence is intended for. The increasing number of violence on TV programmes from time to time have made many parents worried about their children. Based on the study conducted by George Gerbner and his colleagues in the 1990s shows that on average over the last 20 years, “1 hour of ‘primetime’ evening television programming contains 5 violent acts.” Moreover, on Saturday morning children’s programming has at least 20-25 violent acts. 12 It is of course a horrific figures that people should be worried about. 12 Murray, John P. (1993), ‘The Developing Child in a Multimedia Society’in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.14.
  7. 7. 7 And these figures keeps on fluctuating. Because children aged 6 – 11 spend many more hours watching television than they do in the classroom. 13 The problem is that it is quite difficult to define what should be categorised as violence. Because the scope is quite broad and the boundary is not very clear. Occasionally violence in itself can not be perceived as violence as it is. It might have been transformed into different format that the ‘violence’ does not become really ‘violent’. Such as sexual violence and sexual harassment. TV audience likes watching violence in the films/dramas on TV because they are interesting and entertaining. According to Belson (1978) violence can be wrapped in such a way that the violence content becomes transparent. Based on the order of the level of the violence there are for examples: fictional violence of the realistic kind, violence shown as glorified, romanticised, idealised or ennobling, violence presented as if it is ‘fun and games’, like a game or something to entertain. 14 Such as a fighting between the main protagonist and the antagonist, with bare hands or using knives or other weapons, is an attractive entertainment for audience, mostly children. And usually the peak of the incident like guns fighting, the movement of the actors are slowed to intensify the sensation of the happening to the audience. And in fact many people like it. The first step to be done is actually to set up standard definition of violence, as it will make the violence analysis easier. 15 However, what makes violence sometimes 13 Walsh, Bill, Our Problem is Defining Violence: The statistics are frightening, available at: http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/MLArticleFolder/defining.html 14 Belson, William A. (1978), Television violence and the adolescent boy, Saxon House, Hampshire, p. 112. 15 Gunter, Barrie (1997), ‘Television: Is It Bad or Good for Our Kids?’ in Charlton, Tony and David, Kenneth, eds., Elusive links: Television, Video Games and Children’s Behaviour, Park Published Essay, Cheltenham, p.27.
  8. 8. 8 difficult to be defined is that it is often transformed into other formats like cartoon films. Nearly all children like cartoon films. It is quite often that cartoon films expose violent acts. Even though the quality of violence is not like that of in fictional films, but what children watch is still violence. What parents should remember is that children have a characteristic namely to imitate what the have watched and heard. In many cases mentioned above, the violence is somewhat disguised that audience do not realise that they are actually watching violence. Moreover, children do not think much of it. What they watch is entertaining for them. However, in long term the accumulation of watching violent acts like this could drive children to have aggressive behaviour and at the end the children might perform violent acts. There are many researches and studies have been conducted regarding this problem. Such as the researches that were done by Albert Bandura who studied preschool children at Stanford University and Leonard Berkowitz at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s. 16 Based on the result of their researches --- eventhough these were the early laboratory-based and relatively focused investigations--- the violence on media could ‘lead to some short-term changes in aggressive behaviour and attitude on the part of children and young adults’. 17 Furthermore, in the next researches in 1970s that were conducted by Aletha Huston and her friends assessed the effects of viewing a diet of Batman and Superman cartoons on the aggressive behaviour of preschoolers in their natural setting, namely classrooms and playgrounds. One of their main conclusions is that those who watched Batman and Superman cartoons were much more likely to get 16 In Murray, John P. (1993), ‘The Developing Child in a Multimedia Society’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.13. 17 In Murray, John P. (1993), ‘The Developing Child in a Multimedia Society’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.13.
  9. 9. 9 into minor confrontation in their classroom. And they were less cooperative with their friends whilst they were playing. However, the children who had watched Mr.Rogers’ Neighbourhood could play more cooperatively. 18 In spite of this accumulated evidence, many broadcasters and scientists continue to debate the relation between TV violence viewing and children's aggressive behaviour. Some broadcasters believe that there is not enough evidence to prove that TV violence is harmful. Nevertheless, scientists who have studied this issue say that there is a link between TV violence and aggression. “In 1992, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Television and Society published a report that confirms this view. The report, entitled Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society, shows that the harmful effects of TV violence do exist.” 19 The debates have produced more than 4,000 books, articles, reports and papers that are published on this topic since the 1950s. 20 Pornography on TV - Pornography on television programmes is also a another big issue besides violence although it is not as popular as violence. Since there is nearly no barrier for children to access TV, it is very probable for children also to watch pornography on TV. Moreover, those who have television in their own bed room will be more likely influenced. For instance if children watch sexually explicit content on TV. The effect 18 Murray, John P. (1993), ‘The Developing Child in a Multimedia Society’ in Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London, p.13. 19 Violence on Television, available at: http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/violence.html. 20 See Huston, A.C., et.al , (1992), Big World, Small Screen: The role of television in American society, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and Murray, J.P. (1980), Television and youth: Twenty-five years of research and controversy, Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development, p.6.
  10. 10. 10 I think is almost the same with viewing violence on TV that children will tend to imitate what they had watched on TV screen. In long term this could influence children’s behaviour and personality. Children might experience pre-matured development of both their mental and personality. And these might influence their sexual behaviour in the future. d. Parents’ role Parents’ role in protecting children from TV influence is very important because children mostly live with their parents. As it is argued above that children like imitating what they had watched on TV screen and they are most likely to show big attention to TV programmes, the accompaniment of parents whilst they are watching TV becomes very important. Because children –especially preschoolers-- do not have enough filters to differentiate the types of TV programmes that they are allowed to watch and those which they are not. Parents could play their role by explaining what is happening on TV and guiding them. It is argued by Gunter that “family is not only a source of essential security and affection, it is also a social; microcosm within which children learn moral and social values and codes of conduct.” 21 C. Conclusions Based on the analysis I would draw some conclusions that basically I agree if children should be protected from media influence, mostly television. I think it is quite clear and comprehensive to see the facts that the number of violence on TV 21 Gunter, Barrie (1997), ‘Television: Is It Bad or Good for Our Kids?’ in Charlton, Tony and David, Kenneth, eds., Elusive links: Television, Video Games and Children’s Behaviour, Park Published Essay, Cheltenham, p.21.
  11. 11. 11 programmes shows a dramatic figures that tend to increase from time to time. I think we can not warn children from watching television. It will be ridiculous if they have to be alienated from this medium whereas they could make use of television to recognise and learn the outer world. Since we do not know whether or not children could perceive and interpret the information they view correctly, then we –in this case parents-- must be a guardian for their children at home who guide and explain what children watch, at least whilst they are watching television. In my opinion parents can not let their children free to watch television without being watched and monitored regularly. Since children are basically ‘not safe’ if we let them viewing television alone, then we –as adult or parents-- must be responsible for their ‘safety’. What’s more, with the advanced technological development in audio visual technology in the next few years television does not merely function as conventional TV but also as telephone and computer. It is argued by Gunter that television “will evolve into an interactive entertainment and information system offering a wide range of services, unlike anything we know today. With this increased array of services will come new social problems.” 22 This worry is reasonable because with integrated audio visual technologies, computer, telephone and television, children will be more widely-opened to bulks of information that is easily accessed merely with a touch of a button. 22 Gunter, Barrie (1997), ‘Television: Is It Bad or Good for Our Kids?’ in Charlton, Tony and David, Kenneth, eds., Elusive links: Television, Video Games and Children’s Behaviour, Park Published Essay, Cheltenham, p.19.
  12. 12. 12 BIBLIOGRAPHY Barker, Martin and Petley, eds. (1997), Ill Effects: the media/violence debate, Routledge, London. Belson, William A. (1978), Television violence and the adolescent boy, Saxon House, Teakfield Ltd., Hampshire. Berry, Gordon L. and Asamen, Joy Keiko, eds., Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World, Sage, London. Charlton, Tony and David, Kenneth (1997), Elusive Links: Television, Video Games and Children’s Behaviour, Park Published Papers, Cheltenham. Crisell, Andrew (1997), An Introductory History of British Broadcasting, Routledge, London. Gauntlett, David (1995), Moving Experiences: Understanding Television’s Influences and Effects, John Libbey, London. Gauntlett, David (1996), Video Critical: Children, the Environment and Media Power, Luton University Press, Luton. Gunter, Barrie (1985), Dimensions of Television Violence, Gower Publishing Company Ltd., Hants. Huston, A.C., Donnerstein, E., Fairchild, H., Feshbach, N.D., Katz, P.A., Murray, J.P., Rubinstein, E.A., Wilcox, B., & Zuckerman, D. (1992), Big World, Small Screen: The role of television in American society, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Johnson, Bill (1995), Pulling the plug on television's sex and violence. Available at: http://www. [the URL was forgotten] Accessed on 3 March 2001. Lowery, Shearon and DeFleur Melvin L. (1983), Milestones in Mass Communication Research: Media Effects, Longman Inc., New York. Murray, J.P. (1980), Television and youth: Twenty-five years of research and controversy, Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development. Walsh, Bill, Our Problem is Defining Violence: The statistics are frightening, available at: http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/MLArticleFolder/defining.html, accessed on 12 March 2001.
  13. 13. 13 Violence on Television, available at: http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/violence.html, accessed on 13 March 2001.

×