The increase in violent behavior in the American society especially amongst teenagers has triggered research on causes of violence. There has been a significant increase in deviant behavior especially among the young people and this has included cases of school killings, armed crimes, sexual crimes and other forms of criminal behavior. This trend has caused worry to guardians, parents and the society in general. Research on violence in young people has pointed to the media as a major contributor to violence. Different researches have shown that children who are exposed to violence in the media at a young age are more likely to express violent actions than those who are not exposed to it. Research has also shown that predominant exposure of violence to children takes place through the television. These researches have concluded that children who watch the television for a longer period of time are likely to express aggressive behavior and develop violent trends later in life.
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However, it is important to re-evaluate this issue and develop clear findings on the relationship between watching the television and development of aggressive behavior among children. This can be achieved through analyzing literature and research on the subject by scholars. This paper aims at analyzing the relationship between watching television and development of aggressive behavior by children. This analysis will be done using the annotated bibliography format. Three articles of a scholarly literature will be evaluated to develop accurate research findings. These articles are “Television violence: A review of the effects on children of different ages” by the Media Awareness Network, “Violence in society” by Anderson and “How the TV affects your child” by Kid’s Health Organization. The discussed issues will be summarized at the end.
Statement of hypothesis
The statement of hypothesis will define the aims of the research. The statement of hypothesis will be “Do children who watch television more than three hours a day exhibit more aggressive behavior than those who watch fewer than three hours a day?”
There will be other research questions which will aim at understanding aggression among children and watching of the television for longer hours. One of the research questions will be “What is the association of aggressive behavior in children and violent media?” Another research question will be “What can be done to discourage aggression amongst children”.
Article 1: Media Awareness Network. (2009). Television violence: A review of the effects on children of different ages.
Many studies have explained the causes of development of aggression among children and teenagers who are exposed to violence or adult content by the media. Researchers from the Media Awareness Network assess the impacts which television programs have on children of different ages. They analyze a step by step influence on aggression and violence amongst children of different ages as a result of being exposed to the television. They further explain that children are usually unable to grasp the content or story behind a movie or program, and their attention is usually captured by dramatic scenes or scenes which they are familiar with. When this happens, such children begin imitating the behavior especially when it is presented in an uncluttered, instructional and simple manner.
Literature review and findings
When children are approximately two years of age, they begin paying attention to television programs. The viewing pattern developed during this age is likely to be carried forward to adulthood. During this stage, children prefer watching cartoons and programs which have fast moving characters that capture their interest. During pre-school age, they enter the exploratory stage where they try to decipher meaning from content they are exposed to. In this stage, they are attracted to production features which are vivid and which include rapid changing of scenes, rapid movement of characters and unexpected or intense sounds and sights (Media Awareness Network, 2009). Most cases of violence in the television programs are followed by production features which are vivid and this means that children pay attention and seek out violent scenes. It is important to note that children are not attracted to violent acts in the media but rather the vivid features of production which accompany such scenes. Although television content may later explain the consequences and motivation behind the violence, children are unable to grasp these important aspects due to their low maturity levels. They are likely to imitate violent acts and act aggressively without awareness of consequences of such actions.
During the elementary school ages, children have the ability to make inferences and follow plots as well as understand consequences and motivations attached to the actions of actors. However, their mental development is not fully developed and it is not possible to determine whether they will deeply process the information from the television or merely react in a superficial or unfocussed way. By eight years of age, children will likely develop aggression if they identify themselves with violent heroes. However, if violence is depicted as evil, through punishment or causing suffering, such children are unlikely to imitate it. By the time they are about ten years of age, children begin also watching family-oriented or adult content and may develop a likeness for movies which employ violence.
During adolescence, children have high abstract reasoning and thought levels and they use this for academic work as opposed to watching the television. However, they become independent and may begin watching horror, pornographic or violent movies as well as music videos. These have a negative effect on adolescents and unless they are properly guided by adults, they may engage in violent or immoral acts. However, only the minor proportion which believes in the power of television and identifies with violent heroes is likely to practice violent acts against their peers. This perspective is supported by messages which programs which have high degrees of violence advertise. Programs such as World Wrestling expose children to high levels of violence and producers have acknowledged the effects which this exposure may have on them. As a result, such programs carry messages which warn children and young people not to repeat actions they see during the program as the actors are professionally trained performers who have practiced for many years.
However, the authors use secondary research as opposed to primary research as a basis for developing their findings. A variety of journals and books are used for the research. It is important to understand the weaknesses and strengths of this research methodology. Weaknesses of secondary research include the possibility of duplicating errors from documents used and the inability to explore research further through actual interrogation of writers of the research. This arises from the fact that researchers are not physically present to answer any questions which may arise from their research. Advantages of this research method include the low cost and ease of undertaking research from the internet. The ability to corroborate information from diverse sources on the Internet is also another benefit of using this method.
Significance of findings
The findings of this article are very useful to parents and guardians in general. The research paper helps parents and guardians to understand the thought process which children and teenagers experience when they are exposed to the television. This enables them have an insight of the effects that violence on the television has on children of different ages. This is important when parents want to shield their children from violence. The article also discusses various ways in which parents may protect their children from violence and these will be discussed at the end of the paper.
Article 2: Anderson, K. (2008). Violence in society
This author links the increase in violence in society with the exposure of children to violence through the television. The author begins by giving several statistics on violence or aggression exposures to children. The first research shows that over 50% of children were afraid of violence against their families, which showed the paranoia among children. Additional statistics show that approximately 20% of teenagers in the US between the ages of 10 and 17 are aware of a person who has been shot (Anderson, 2008). Within the last two decades, the proportion of child abuse increased by over 40%. Violent crime on the other hand has increased by 60% within the last four decades.
Literature review and findings
The author then links the violence in society to exposure to violence through the television especially among children. Statistics used to link these two phenomena explain that children in the US reveal that an average child is exposed to 100,000 acts of violence and 8,000 televised murders before completion of elementary school. This figure doubles before they reach adulthood. In addition, teenagers watch over 10,000 hours of rock music on MTV, and this exposes them to a variety of violent or immoral acts. Research on 732 children directly linked exposure to violence on television to delinquent behavior by children and this ranged from fighting to conflicts with parents. These acts correlated with exposure to television viewing. Another longer term research by the University of Illinois made findings that television habits at a tender age directly influenced aggressive behavior at later ages. This means that the more exposure to violence that a child has, the more they are likely to be violent in later life.
The author uses a combination of secondary and primary sources when conducting research. Benefits of primary research include the ability to seek explanations on unclear issues directly from the authors of research. Another advantage is that body language may be used to make conclusions through non-verbal communication. Disadvantages include the fact that it is expensive to carry out. Another weakness is that there may be interviewer or interviewee bias depending on the skills of the interviewer. The weaknesses and strengths of secondary sources were earlier discussed.
Significance of findings
The findings of this research are very important to parents, teachers, guardians and the society at large. These findings show clear linkage between exposure to violence on the television to children and the development of aggressive behavior. Such evidence from research reinforces the view that children should be protected from violent content when they are growing up and this is the responsibility of the society as a whole. Various methods which can be used to achieve this objective will be discussed at the end of the paper.
Article 3: Kid’s Health Organization. (2010). How the TV affects your child
The authors begin by giving facts about the average time spent by children watching the television. They explain that the average child under six years of age spends two hours daily watching television, DVDs or videos. Teenagers and children who are aged between eight and eighteen years of age spend four hours and two hours on the television and computer respectively. The American Pediatrics Association recommends children under two years of age not to watch television at all, and those over two years not to watch more than two hours of television daily. This is because the first and second year after childbirth is essential for mental development and electronic devices should not affect playing, exploration and interaction of children with people around them.
Literature review and findings
The authors explain that television is useful to children if watched in moderation since it exposes them to learning and exploring new things. However, excessive watching of the television by children has been linked to adverse effects such as being overweight, development of fear and aggression as well as adoption of risky behavior such as use of drugs. They explain that the average child will watch 200,000 violent acts before they attain adulthood (Kid’s Health Organization, 2010). Such children may imitate violent acts which they view as fun. Since the “good guy” usually propagates violence against villains, children view violence as positive as long as it is directed towards the “bad guys”. In addition, many programs feature risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual acts. Children may imitate this behavior in a bid to appear “cool” to their peers. Research has shown that children who watch more than five hours of television a day are more likely to participate in sexual acts, drinking alcohol or smoking compared to those who watch television for two hours or less.
The authors similarly used a combination of secondary and primary sources when undertaking the research. These sources have weaknesses and strengths which have already been discussed in the paper.
Significance of findings
The findings of this research are very useful since they directly link the number of hours which children watch television to the development of aggression and other delinquent behaviors. The American Pediatric Association has recommended that children watch television for a maximum of two hours a day, and those aged less than two years should not be exposed to the television. This information is important to parents who are keen to ensure that their children have adequate mental development and are free from violence or immorality which is exposed by the media.
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Summary and conclusion
The paper has discussed three articles which assess the relationship between development of aggression by children as a result of exposure to the television. All the articles have linked children’s aggression and development of immoral behavior to
exposure to the media. Children have been seen to imitate what they see on the television without adequate knowledge of the repercussions of such actions. The amount of time which is spent watching such programs has also been seen to be directly proportional to the aggression developed by children and teenagers. Children under two years of age should not be exposed to the television according to the American Pediatric Association, and those over two years should only have two hours of television viewing.
After the assessment of these findings, it is clear that the answer to the hypothesis “What is the association of aggressive behavior in children and violent media?” is an increase in cases of aggression and immoral behavior among children who are exposed to violent media. This has been supported by research discussed. In order to answer the research question “What can be done to discourage aggression amongst children”, the following measures should be taken by parents, teachers an society at large. In order to discourage aggressive behavior among children, parents and guardians have a responsibility to control the programs their children watch or the media they are exposed to. Parents should ensure that children are not exposed to violent or immoral behavior since this may encourage them to imitate such behavior.
In order to control what children are exposed to, film makers and media houses have a responsibility to rate the content which is exposed to audiences. This is usually a requirement in many societies across the world, and the media is expected to warn viewers in advance if the content has harsh language, nudity, violence or scenes of a sexual nature. Once parents are aware of the content of programs beforehand, they are able to control what their children have access to. This will reduce the levels of aggression among children and teenagers in the American society, and the levels of violent crimes will reduce in the long run.