Children are vulnerable
All children are impressionable. But children younger than 7 are especially influenced by what they see on television. Young children are not yet able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. They cannot think critically about people’s motives and they have difficulty understanding subtle behavior. Therefore, young children are especially vulnerable to the powerful images of violent behavior portrayed in the media. Adults -parents, teachers, and broadcasters must assume responsibility for protecting children from the potentially harmful effects of exposure to violence through the media.
When children watch television, they are physically passive but mentally they are very active. They absorb information, ideas, and values from television. Because television is such a powerful teacher, adults must be sure that the lessons children learn from television is desirable.
Children may become less caring and more fearful
Research consistently identifies three problems associated with repeated viewing of television violence:
1. Children are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others. Children begin to see violence as a normal response to stress and an acceptable means of resolving conflict. Children who repeatedly observe aggressive problem-solving behavior tend to replay what they have seen in real life situations.
2. Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. Viewing violence stimulates children to view other people as “enemies” and to be unconcerned about their welfare. Children show less remorse about their own aggressive behavior and less concern about the aggressive actions of other children.
3. Children may become more fearful of the world around them. Exposure to media violence may compoundsome children’s natural anxieties.
Some effects are subtle
Media violence can harm children’s social development. Viewing violence reduces all forms of positive human interaction and reinforces anti-social behavior.
Violent television programming presents limited models of language development. The repetitive scripts of violent television programs narrow the range and originality of children’s verbal expression at a time when the development of language is critically important.
Viewing television violence limits children’s imaginations. Programs that regularly depict violence often promote toys that encourage children to imitate the actual behaviors seen on TV or in the movies. Young children have a natural tendency and need to explore many make- believe roles and play imaginatively to learn about themselves and their world. Constant viewing of television violence can rob children of the benefits of play.
A Guide for Parents by Joan and Jenni Zimmer
National Association for the Education of Young Children
How parents can help in next blog