Impact of Media

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A Study on Media Culture’s Negative Influence on Children
WANG Da-wei
(Media Management School, Communication University of China, Beijing 100097, China ) Abstract: The link between media culture and its real world effect has been a hot topic for many years. Many people believe that media have an obviously bad effect on children. More than 1000 studies conducted in the past 40 years show that excessive exposure to media violence causes the violent behavior in real life. Some other researches prove that media contain heavy messages that promote unhealthy habits or antisocial behaviors. This might be true. However, people often overstate the effects of media on children. Media are not the only elements that can lead to children’s violence, antisocial behavior and bad habits. Other factors, like society, parents, communities, can also influence their behavior. In fact, if we can control the exposure to media in moderation, our children can benefit a lot from media culture. Key words: media violence; children; influence

Hundreds of research studies over the past forty years have clearly shown that there is a strong relationship between viewing violence in television programs and movies and aggressive behavior of children, youth, and adults. However, it is really difficult to prove a direct connection between them. It is described like “watching rain fall on a pond and trying to figure out which drop causes which ripple” (Phillips, cited by Elyse, 1998). 1. Negative Effects of Media

1.1 Experimental studies
Many of the best-known studies of the effects of violent television upon children are experimental. This is a preferred method of many psychologists working in this field. Different conclusions have been made. Some studies prove that there are links between television viewing and antisocial behaviour. Others claim positive effects. And some show that there are no links at all.

Albert Bandura based his observational learning theory on the bobo doll studies. He made a film in which a young woman essentially assaulted a bobo doll, shouting “sockeroo!” This film was shown to groups of kindergartners. Then they had a chance to play in the room with new bobo dolls and little hammers. Observers recorded their actions and compared the children who saw the film with children who hadn’t. Some children who watched the film were found to be more aggressive in their play. They imitated the young lady in the film (Boeree, 1998). These laboratory studies show that if children are exposed to aggression in the media, although this was set up artificially, they can become more aggressive.

Previous researches have mostly relied on studies in artificial laboratory conditions, which can only provide limited kinds of evidence. In common all these studies had a principal weakness: they lack the real life experiences. For example, in the “Bobo doll” study, children are left in a room with the bobo doll. What would the WANG Da-wei (1975- ), female, M.A., teaching assistant of Media Management School, Communication University of China; research fields: mass media and culture, media economics.

A Study on Media Culture’s Negative Influence on Children
adults do apart from attacking the doll, if they were left there? Even the children know that the doll is not alive and does not suffer pain. And unlike human beings the bobo doll does not hit back (Durkin, 1995). 1.2 Social Learning Theory

This observational effect is also called Social Learning Theory. Albert Bandura (1977) used it specifically to explain media effects. Adults and children acquire attitudes, emotional responses and new styles of conduct through “modeling” of films and television. The major premise is that we learn by observing others. Four steps combine a cognitive view and an operant view of learning.

(1) Attention—the individual notices something in the environment (2) Retention—the individual remembers what was noticed
(3) Reproduction—the individual produces an action...
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