By closely examining this issue, I have acquired much deeper knowledge of this subject which I find very relevant in today’s society. I do not regard media as completely damaging, however, if children are not closely watched, they come under a threat of commercial influence through media which can lead to their mental, but also physical, damage.
The typical child consumes eight hours of media per day. (Lee Tahnk, 2016) Author Lawrence Balter (2005) has found a positive correlation between lower income families and the amount of entertainment television programmes watched by children. Although children from higher income families do watch the same amount of television, they tend to watch more educational programmes which are proven to be beneficial for child’s development, such as the Sesame Street. (Paediatric Child Health, 2003) Television can successfully engage with children and improve their knowledge of many subjects and raise their awareness better than any other forms of media. (Camara, n.d.)
Children and youth are capable of using media in a positive way to support or engage positive social change. Millions of young people have engaged in online peer support groups, most of them believing that no person should be bullied because of their background or personality. But although the youth recognizes these problems surrounding media, media enables such action to take place. A majority of the young generation has seen cyberbullying and a majority believe that media allows people to be meaner than they would allow themselves to be in person. Offensive humour shared on the internet, in particular, has been recognized as a major tool for attacking and offending certain groups. (Gardner, 2016)
Another problem with media influence on children is the amount of violence it portrays. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry “Television programs display 812 violent acts per hour; children’s programming, particularly cartoons, displays up to 20 violent acts hourly.”(Beresin, 2016) Media often portrays violence as a way to resolve disputes, justifying crimes which are committed against the “evil” characters. Children can also become desensitized to violence which they see too often. Even if parents limit the number of violent movies, music videos and video games children are exposed to at home, children can see different forms of media at school, or even outside on billboards and on other forms of advertisements. (Beresin, 2016) Even news coverage of natural disasters, crimes, and other violent acts can have a negative effect on children’s mental health, resulting in children suffering from anxiety and fear of growing up in society. (Camara, n.d.)
Media consumption has also been linked to health problems including child obesity. As children are exposed to commercials of junk food, they can form poor eating habits, which can be hardly weaned. Instead of playing outside, children are also more likely to sit at home, playing on their phones, tablets or watching TV which decreases their physical activity. There has been a rise in the number of children reported to suffer from obesity, which can be detrimental to children’s life later on. (Camara, n.d.)
Nowadays, children are also under threat of losing their privacy. Online safety concerns everyone who is online, however, since children often don’t have a deep understanding of the potential internet threats, parents are key in protecting them from the dangers internet poses. Some parents, sadly, instead of keeping their children out of the social media world, choose to post very personal content on their social websites. Children who are shown on these pictures or videos can later in their life be very conscious and anxious about their past mistakes and behaviours, which can have again a negative impact on their mental health and their confidence. (Fottrell, 2016)
Safer internet use can be achieved through limiting or filtering content children can access or using other means of protection rather than turning children’s connection off completely. (Livingstone, 2016) Parents should engage with children when online, helping them understand what is going on in media as children are exposed to prevent child’s misunderstanding. The time children are exposed to media should also be controlled, maintaining a healthy balance between the digital world and the real one. (Califano, 2011) This way, if parents or guardians follow smart techniques and measures when letting their children use technology, media has a good chance at remaining beneficial to child’s development instead of hindering it.
- Balter, L. & Tamis-LeMonda, C. (1999). Child psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
- Beresin, E. (2016). The Impact of Media Violence on Children and Adolescents: Opportunities for Clinical Interventions. org. Retrieved 1 May 2016, from https://www.aacap.org/aacap/Medical_Students_and_Residents/Mentorship_Matters/DevelopMentor/The_Impact_of_Media_Violence_on_Children_and_Adolescents_Opportunities_for_Clinical_Interventions.aspx
- Califano, J. (2011). 9 Ways to Protect Your Kids From Negative Messages in the Media – Tips on Life and Love. Tips on Life and Love. Retrieved 1 May 2016, from http://www.tipsonlifeandlove.com/parenting/9-ways-to-protect-your-kids-from-negative-messages-in-the-media
- Camara, N. The influence of Media on Children. edu. Retrieved 1 May 2016, from http://www.academia.edu/4953696/THE_INFLUENCE_OF_MEDIA_ON_CHILDREN
- Fottrell, Q. (2016). Read this before posting photos of your kids on Facebook. MarketWatch. Retrieved 1 May 2016, from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/read-this-before-posting-photos-of-your-kids-on-facebook-2015-08-05
- Gardner, W. (2016). Creating a Better Internet for All Executive Summary(1st ed., pp. 2-3). UK Safer Internet Centre. Retrieved from http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2016/creating-a-better-internet-for-all (Direct Link : http://childnetsic.s3.amazonaws.com/ufiles/SID2016/Executive%20Summary%20-%20Creating%20a%20Better%20Internet%20for%20All.pdf)
- Lee Tahnk, J. Media Consumption Statistics: How Does Your Kid Compare? Retrieved 1 May 2016, from http://www.parenting.com/blogs/screen-play/jeana-lee-tahnk/media-consumption-statistics-how-does-your-kid-compare
- Livingstone, S. (2016). More online risks for parents to worry about, says new Safer Internet Day research. Parenting for a Digital Future. Retrieved 1 May 2016, from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/parenting4digitalfuture/2016/02/09/more-online-risks-for-parents-to-worry-about-says-new-safer-internet-day-research/
- Paediatric Child Health. (2003). Impact of media use on children and youth. Paediatrics & Child Health, 8(5), 301. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792691/