Media on Children 1 The Effects of Electronic Media on Children Feng Sai Guided Research 110A Teacher: Maurice Williams November 10, 2010 Media on Children 2 Introduction Children now have much easier access to media than ever before—and to a much wider variety of content of the media. Researchers have shown that, until the late 18th century, there had been no attempts at developing media specifically aimed at children (Dumitru, 2010).
There were a few healthy books for adults to choose that children enjoyed reading, such as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels; all of the books were easy to read and understand, but no one book was written with a child’s emotional level at that time. Until the 18th century, children and adults could read the same texts: the Bible, chapbooks and very few newspapers. But later, there were more books and newspapers coming out. These kinds of books deal with subjects such as poverty, disease, and death, as well as drunkenness, and sexuality.
The newspapers contained political and military news, as well as very sad news such as terrifying natural disasters. The increasing kinds of media in children’s lives affect their communicative skills. Children acquire video games, personal computers, internet, and cell phones at a younger age than before. Surveys indicate that about 82% of children are online by 7th grade and experience about 6. 5 hours per day of over media exposure. (Dumitru, 2010). Media influence on children has increased when more types of media have been developed.
There are many beneficial influences on children, such as learning and remembering knowledge easier, for example, they can learn from movies; saving time to experience something and discussing social events. However, we should pay more attention to negative effects, such as violent behavior between classmates, deterioration in a physical health because of lack of physical activities and withdrawal into an unreal world without close friends. These effects can cause very serious problems for our next generation. Media on Children 3
Beneficial Effects With the rapid development of technology, mass media have changed a lot. TV and Internet, rather than newspaper and magazines, have become the major ways to search news and information all over the world. Some people still think that newspaper and magazines are the major and the best ways to learn knowledge. The internet is playing a more and more important role in children’s daily life. On the Internet, they can get as much information as they can. Children can send e-mails to their friends and talk to them if they want to.
Besides, on the internet they can read books, enjoy music and watch ball games. They can also go shopping without leaving their rooms. Firstly, for children now, the beneficial effect of media is that it is easy to learn and remember knowledge. They can have classes by watching teaching videos instead of listening to the teachers at school. They can know all the names of flowers by looking at flowers images instead of visiting a zoo. Also, they can learn a new language by listening to a tape instead of talking with a totally foreigner stranger.
This kind of studying will be more impressive and unforgettable. Take me as an example. Before I came to America, I had many different ways to study English in China. In the early morning when I walked to school, I was always listening to my English tapes in order to learn some new vocabularies. At school, when we had class, my teacher would show us some short American videos, and I was so interested in them. When I came back home, I liked to watch “Friends” which is an American television series, and I was really enjoying it. Media on Children 4
Next, if children can make good use of the media, it will be a very good way to save time to learn many different countries’ history and culture. Young children are always very interested in many different new things; take me as an example, I like travelling and watching different movies; however, they usually don’t have enough time to learn or practice all the things they want to try, just as I don’t have enough money to visit Europe, so it is a very good idea to learn knowledge from some new kinds of media now, such as newspapers, Internet and TV shows, from a TV show which as introducing Europe, I can feel like I were there. There is more evidence to support that idea. Francis Bacon said that to choose time is to save time. By controlling how you spend your time, you’ll increase the chance of becoming a great student, even a better person. Coyl stated that the better you use your time, the more time you’ll have to spend on your interests. (Coyl, 2009).
The more time we save, the more things which we usually don’t have time to do can be done then, and nowadays people should find some more important information which could help them avoid wasting time. Again take me as an example, I always used to complete my homework on time or even earlier than the deadline, then I can do something really interesting and it will bring me a good sense of achievement. I can provide another example. People from all over the world are very interested in Chinese history and culture now.
In fact, a lot of American people have already visited China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, more than one time; however, for the people who don’t have enough money or free time to travel, it is a very wise choice to know the history of China by watching the Chinese movies and all kinds of different videos made by Chinese people. By doing this, I believe they will have a better understanding of China even though they never come to China. Media on Children 5 In addition, children now can discuss some easy social events on the Internet. There are more and more ways to display some news and big social issues.
Most of them are produced vividly by professional persons, such as the video about the financial crisis in 1998, which can be learned in an vividly and easy way by the people who don’t know much about financial market. By doing this, they can know some news which happened right now all over the world and understand better. They also can vote for some easy surveys about themselves and their families (JAMA, 2009). For example, there is a very famous company named zero in china, which makes many different kinds of surveys on the Internet; in fact many children can finish them to express their own feelings towards the world.
In the past, children knew nothing about the world and the society in which they lived. However, nowadays, they can have more than one choice to get a better understanding of the beautiful world. They can watch TV to know the big news in Japan, they can listen to the radio to know which new song is produced, and they also can make a long-distance telephone call to their good friend who is in Indian to talk about what’s new today for a couple minutes. Take another example, I can see my parents by using skype.
In all, maybe we could have a conclusion that even though we already have many different ways of knowing the world like visiting many cities, the mass media maybe the best and most effective way of them to learn what we want to learn nowadays, because we can save time and cost less money than really go to a foreigner country. However, when we are enjoying all of the good feelings the mass media brings to us, we shouldn’t forget the other side of them.
All these above are the good effects of mass media on children, next I will talk about some negative influences of the mass media on children now. Media on Children 6 Harmful Effects Although our children love watching different TV shows, sending lots of messages to their dear friends, listening to iPod and playing exciting video games with friends, in today’s digital world, it is very important to recognize that all these activities, a natural part of our children’s daily life, have a bad effect on our children’s health.
The results are very clear: mass media consumption without limits or guidelines by their parents and teachers can cause a negative impact on children’s physical, mental, and social well-being. Firstly, the harmful effects can lead to violent behavior of our children. Have you played a video game lately, watched a TV show, or seen an active movie? American television shows are considered to be one of the most violent media in the world. Violent aggressive behavior shows up everywhere in all kinds of media in our lives.
Video games allow players to assume the roles of characters that may kill all kinds of people you don’t like in that game, and when younger children watch such movies with violent images, they can have increased anxiety, sleep disruption, and uncomfortable nightmares. For example, according to Gentile, the rate of juvenile crime among 12 to 17 year old children decreased in 1997 to 31 serious crimes per 1,000, the lowest rate since 1986; however, at the same time, this lower crime rate still translates into more than 700,000 violent crimes committed by teenagers.
From 1960 through to 1997, the U. S. population increased by 40 percent, but the violent crime rate increased by 500 percent (Gentile, 2003). Obviously, not all children will develop an aggressive behavior even after they watch such media which is full of violent images, but we still should pay more attention to the violent media in order to protect our next generation. Media on Children 7 Secondly, the negative effect of mass media on children is that it causes very bad damage to physical health on children now.
The number of sub-health children in America has doubled in the last 10 years. Children whose ages are 8 to 18 spend an average of 44. 5 hours per week engaged with media—compared to only 8. 75 hours per week engaged in physical activity (Steyer, 2007). After a long period living like that, children don’t want to play outside with their real friends under the sunshine but be happy to stay at their house just with cold computers; furthermore, they only care about what’s going on with the computer and think of nothing about the real life.
Technologically children now can use several different devices at the same time, commonly referred to as media multitasking. How do children’s media multitasking affect their school scores? According to Steyer, the human brain is not capable of focusing on more than one thing at the same time; however, mass media multitasking requires the brain to perform many processes, transferring attention back and forth from one thing to another thing. Children are always forced to notice another thing away from homework. So, our brain maybe damaged after doing lots of things at once.
Of course although some children may say that they can work better when they are listening to music or using media devices, Steyer’s research shows that when people’s attention can’t focus on one thing, their errors will increase significantly and work will take twice as much time or even more to finally complete. Moreover, according to Steyer, the quality of work and depth of thought is reduced significantly when people’s attention can’t focus on one thing; thus, this might be the reason why some children have poor studying performance but they are very good at playing many very difficult computer games.
Media on Children 8 Children’s overweight is now a popular phenomenon. Increased TV viewing on children is associated with reduced fruit and vegetables consumption instead of more snacks. Children tend to snack more after watching television commercials of food, and some children are even more susceptible to advertisements for high-calorie snacks. According to Steyer, the baby fat has increased significantly in both preschool and school-aged children in almost every country studied; in fact, it’s time of us to pay more attention to these kinds of ads which brought big health problems to our children.
In addition, the bad influences of mass media also cause our children to live in their own unreal world. They don’t have any friends or interests but the mass media. Some children communicated with each other more through electronic devices, such as MSN. They spent less face time with family members and close friends. Text messaging and Emails always provide limited or no access to people’s emotions; and the closer communication that occurs in real-time interactions may less happen than before. Children’s interest in adult media is not new anymore.
The reason why children now like to watch adult television programs is that these TV shows meet their need to put themselves into the adult world. Now parents have higher incomes and better educational levels than ever before; they have fewer children and there are more divorced parents and single-parent families. It is unavoidable that the increased numbers of these parents also affects the children’s media choices. Consider how family dinner conversation might affect the children if their parents are watching television, listening to music, checking Email, answering the phone, or text messaging. Media on Children 9
What role should parents play? Nowadays our children spend about a shocking 6 hours or more every day on all kinds of mass media. It is increasingly difficult for their parents to control the extent of their exposure (Miller, 2010). The media is not the main cause of any health problems in the United States, even in any other countries, but they do make a substantial contribution to many health problems on children now. Media has a strong negative influence on health issues such as sex, drugs, and eating disorders, so it has already become necessary for parents to do something to protect their children and lead hem to a better road. The media messages and images, which children received through TV shows, movies, video games, the Internet, music, and cell phones, can shape their main values and behaviors; however, this powerful effect cuts both ways: media’s impact can be healthy or unhealthy—it’s your decision to set the limits and guidelines, which are required to make sure that mass media has a positive influence in your children’s daily lives. Take me as an example. My parents always have a very strict rule to me. They can’t allow me to watch TV before I finish my homework, and I also can’t play computer more than 2 hours every night.
According to Miller, every parent should have a rule for their children, especially for the young children. Because if young kids could develop a healthy living habit, it is harder for them to give up the good behavior and have some bad habits. Moreover, parents should have an awareness of protecting their children from the bad effect of mass media and make some rules for them. These strategies below may have an effect of helping parents lead their children to the better real world, and all of them can be carried on by parents, but they still need action and never give up.
Media on Children 10 The first strategy I want to talk about is to set time limits in the daily life. According to Gentile, studies show that the less time children spend in front of the TV set every day, the less likely they are to be obese. So it is very important to create a balanced plan of what kind of media and when your child can consume, and it is their parents’ work from now on. For example, children only can watch TV after they finish their homework. Moreover, some people even strongly recommend no more than one hour of media time for children every day.
They should spend the same or more time to study in order to finish their homework (Gentile, 2003). The second strategy is to limit too much exposure to violence. The more time your child spends with such media full of violence, the greater its impact and influence. So please keep an eye open on the TV set when your children are enjoying their entertainment at night. Pay special attention to the games that are extremely violent—and often sexually explicit too. The kinds of messages are too mature for your little boy or girl; in fact, they are more interested in such kind of messages, because they can feel they are nto the adult’s world. Please explain the truth of violence to them. Because violence is so common in the media, children can become interested in it and fail to realize what the real world should be. The third strategy is to talk about your own values. You can’t always be around there to cover your children’s eyes or ears from sexual media; however, you can help them develop an inner compass by sharing your own values about it. For example, when a sexy song comes on the radio or a violent moment on the night TV shows, it’s time to start a deep discussion with your children about your own values toward these sexual media.
Let them know what you really think about and how you feel about them. Teach them your experiences when you were at their ages, and it do works. Media on Children 11 Conclusion Taking all these different factors into account, we can have a conclusion that mass media today is really funny for young children, and it does help them discover the beautiful world; moreover, it can be a very great way for families to get together and talk with each other. The challenge for people now is to make sure that our children use it wisely and media is healthy for their growing bodies and minds.
What we do now really makes a difference for our next generation, and it really matters. The way we treat them will decide the feeling they feel. I really wish that our next generation could live in a better world than now. We should pay more attention to our children and take good care of them, not only give them money and toys, but also give them our time and love. Media on Children 12 References Coyl, D. D. (2009, February). Kids really are different these days. Phi Delta Kappan, 90, 404- 407. Dumitru, G. (2010). Socio-psychological impact of media on children.
Petroleum – gas university of Ploiesti bulletin, Educational sciences series, 62, 65-69. Gentile, D. A. (2003). Media violence and children: a complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport, CT : Praeger. JAMA. (2009, June 3). Can your child’s health be negatively affected by media? ScienceDaily, 12, 9-10. Miller, K. (2010). Children and the entertainment industry. Detroit : Greenhaven Press. Steyer, J. P. (2007, September). Your child’s media diet. Scholastic parent and child. 15, 78-79.