The 70-year history of experimental research on media violence has continually shown a positive correlation between exposure to media violence and behavior with a special risk for children under eight. Parents and guardians must monitor the media to which their children are exposed: movies, television, video games, and internet (especially on cell phones). At risk is their neural, psychological, social development and more. The American Psychological Association refers to the current generation, as Generation M (for media).
Bryce Dallas Howard, a lead actor in the latest “Jurassic Park” sequel, is showing good judgment in not allowing her young daughter to see “Jurassic World.” She has also expressed caution in allowing her eight year old son to see the movie.
Bryce’s caution is supported by the work of Lawrence Kohlberg on moral development and Jean Piaget on cognitive development and of ongoing related research. According the Kohlberg, a leading authority on moral development, children under eight require supervision of parental figures. Kohlberg has asserted that children 2-7 depend on parents or other adults to tell them what is right and to interpret the world for them. At these ages children’s consciences are generally external. Children typically develop their own conscience after 7 or 8, according to Kohlberg. Jean Piaget, leader in cognitive development, has asserted that children generally can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality before 7 or 8.
Further, for many years research studies have provided evidence of the relationship of exposure to violence in media and behavior. For example, in a large research study, The Influence of Media Violence on Youth, “… Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts.”
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “The debate is over… For the last three decades, the one predominant finding in research on the mass media is that exposure to media portrayals of violence increases aggressive behavior in children.”
From the study The Effects of Media Violence on Adolescent, “The effects of violent media have been of public concern for over 50 years. During this time, hundreds of studies have been performed examining the effects. The research literature has demonstrated a clear and consistent positive relationship between viewing violent media and aggression… Violent media is only one cause of aggressive behavior. Human aggression is a complex subject. Its determinants are many: poverty, availability of guns, peer-group influence, as well as hormonal and neurological abnormalities… However, 50 years of research have clearly demonstrated that a) violent media does contribute to aggression; b) it is a modifiable risk factor…”
From a longitudinal study by Huesmann, L. R., Moise-Titus, J., Podolski, C., & Eron, L. D. of the relationship of children’s exposure to media violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood there has been evidence that early exposure to media violence is a contributing factor to the development of aggression for both boys and girls and while media violence exposure may have short-term effects on adults, its negative impact on children is enduring. This study has suggested, early exposure to media violence places both male and female children at risk for the development of aggressive and violent behavior in adulthood.
Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies), dianehoward.com
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