January 24, 2011
True, media violence is not likely to turn an otherwise fine child into a violent criminal. But, just as every cigarette one smokes increases a little bit the likelihood of a lung tumor someday, every violent show one watches increases just a little bit the likelihood of behaving more aggressively in some situations. (Bushman and Huesmann, 2006, p248).
The topic of the effects of the media on children and their development has been a highly emotional debate for decades. The term media includes radio, television, newspapers, magazines, video games, internet and social websites, etc. Children spend more time with media than they do in any other activity (Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein, 2010, p. 757). Research has shown that excessive time spent with the media can increase the risk of obesity, increase the likelihood of smoking, effect sleeping patterns, and decrease other activities such as reading and hobbies (Strasburger et. al, 2010, p. 757). While television and other media sources are not the direct cause of negative behaviors, including aggressive behavior, risky sexual behavior, substance use, and disordered eating (Strasburger et. al, 2010, p. 757), research has shown that the media certainly has an influence in the child’s behavior. This is particularly the case when there is no parental supervision. Parents and caregivers must supervise the TV programming that children are exposed to, to minimize the negative consequences associated with the media- including increased aggression, anxiety, and desensitization.
The average adolescent will have seen around 200,000 acts of violence on television alone by the age of 18 (Strasburger et. al, 2010, p. 758). Seventy percent of children’s shows contain violence, with an average of fourteen violent interchanges an hour (Wilson, 2008, p. 96). Repeated and excessive exposure to violence