The mass media do not make children more aggressive - Discuss.

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Rosalie Kelly, Group 2. Word Count: 1999.

“The mass media do not make children more aggressive” – Discuss.

        Over the past two decades, the rapid advances in digital technology that have helped to shape today’s modern world have been astounding. Developments such as the quality of motion pictures (which can now be viewed on high-definition plasma screen televisions!), content available on the Internet and increasingly realistic graphics in video games have gripped virtually all households in the developed world. In the United States, 112,275,000 households own a television (NCTA, September 2007) and 1,463,632,361 people use the Internet worldwide (Internet Usage and World Population Stats, 2008). To this end, the mass media have also gained an increasing amount of exposure and reach far more people than was previously possible. Children, in particular, have been at the forefront of these changes, as present generations of young people are moulded by a culture surrounding technology and the media. However, as children have a lesser sense of moral responsibility and judgement, it may be the case that they are extremely vulnerable to messages of violence that are portrayed in the media without themselves, or their parents, even realising it.

        There can be no doubting that the research that has been carried out by psychologists over a long period of time has revealed significant evidence to prove that media does make children more aggressive (aggression can be defined as “the internal motivation behind violent behaviour” {Jackson Harris 2004}). Since 1950, there have been 3500 research studies carried out and 99.5% (all but 18) concluded that there were harmful effects for children watching violent programmes (Grossman & DeGaetano, 2001). It is surprising how much subliminal violence is featured in television shows, cartoons and movies. In fact, the average child has seen 8000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television by the time they have finished primary school (Huston et al. 1992). It is clear that the sheer volume of television watched by youngsters makes it inevitable that they will be exposed to acts of violence or aggression, and it is likely that this exposure will occur on a relatively frequent basis. The average child watches television for 4 hours a day, and 68% of 8 – 18 year olds have a TV in their bedroom (Roberts, Foehr, Rideout 2005). As media is so easily incorporated into a child’s daily life and routine in this way, it would be naïve to assume that there are no negative consequences as a result.

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        The first major effect of media violence is that of desensitization. Due to the fact that children are exposed to a continuous stream of media violence, they become less sensitive to it and consider it to be “normal” behaviour. The more violent images or scenes children watch, the more they come to accept it and the less they are troubled by it. This is aided by the fact that when the violent acts are being watched, it is usually in comfortable surroundings at home where one feels happy and relaxed. The result of this repeated watching of violence in a ...

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