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Antisocial Behaviour & The Mass Media: Is there a link?

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Antisocial Behaviour & The Mass Media: Is there a link? In recent years antisocial behaviour has increased ,with the average American child seeing 32,000 murders,400,000 attempted murders and 250,000 acts of violence on television before the age of eighteen (Ahmed 1998) it's perhaps not unreasonable for one to question if there is a link. Virtually since the dawn of television parents, teachers and mental health professionals have been concerned about the content of television programmes and it's impact on the viewer, particularly children. Of particular concern has been the portrayal of violence and antisocial behaviour especially given psychologist Albert Bandura's work on social learning and the tendency for children to imitate what they see. It is not just television that has given cause for concern but all forms of the media such as computer/video games ,music and magazines/comics. It is almost impossible to prove that there is a definite link between the media and antisocial behaviour but some psychologists would argue that from years of studies and research, the evidence of a relationship between the two is overwhelming. Research into the time that an average household spends watching television has been steadily increasing since1965 (Burger 1982;Liebert & Sprafkin 1988) though this is thought not an entirely reliable source of information since it was determined from pen and paper surveys concerning viewing habits. A study by Anderson et al which involved monitoring households with camera recording equipment determined that children spend an average of 9.14 hours per week watching television and adults an average of 7.56 hours per week. ...read more.


The results found that both men and women who were high TV violence viewers as children were more likely to have engaged in anti-social behaviour and/or aggressive or violent acts some had been convicted of crimes at over three times the rate of other people. It has been suggested that these results could be an indication that children with a tendency to behave aggressively may like to watch violent TV shows more than non-aggressive children. Friedrich and Stein (1973) found that viewing pro social programmes increased pro social behaviour. By allowing a toddler to watch tweenies for example in the belief it will exert a good influence over the child due to the nature of it eg.loving,caring and sharing behaviour between the characters, its natural to assume that it would work the other way around eg.power rangers exerting a bad influence over a child due to the frequent fighting scenes. Such programmes have the fighting characters depicted as heroes or 'goodies' which could suggest to a child that in some situations violence is an acceptable way of solving problems. It has also been suggested that on viewing violent TV programmes, children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others or more fearful of the world around them. Some would argue that if someone were to copy violent acts from TV that there must be 'something wrong' or that they must have had the tendency to be violent in the first place and it cannot be blamed ...read more.


This study investigated precursors to aggression rather than aggressive behaviour itself. More research is needed to determine whether there are short or long term affects as a result of listening to violent song lyrics. It would certainly appear that there is a relationship between aggressive or violent content in the media and antisocial behaviour particularly in young children though there are steps that parents and society can take to prevent or reduce the risk of this effect. Research has shown that adult and parental supervision and commenting on programmes seems to reduce the affects of TV violence on children. This may be because it reduces the child's identification with the person committing the violent act, reduces the child's perception that the violence is real and reduces the likelihood that the child will act out the violent act in play immediately after seeing it on the television. Children can be prevented from deliberately viewing violence on the TV but what if it's depicted in cartoons and although rare, sometimes in children's programmes? In this case an adult is likely to be unaware that such acts are contained in them. The issue of video games and music which contains aggressive lyrics having a negative effect on a person remains debateable though some will continue to argue that both can be directly responsibly for a person committing acts of agression,others will argue that they can also have positive effects and that films,tv,music etc nor anything else can be responsible for a persons actions other than the individual themselves. ...read more.

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