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The Effect of Media Violence on Children and Levels of Aggression

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The Effect of Media Violence on Children and Levels of Aggression.

It has been said that children are like sponges when it comes to attaining knowledge. This seems to be true whether they are learning to speak or how to show emotion. Feelings and emotions become more imminent once children begin to go through adolescents. Children acquire the ability to aggression, sadness, and happiness more readily. Males typically exhibit higher levels of aggression then females according to some research. Within the realm of learning children imitate what they see constantly, whether it be through TV, magazines ,movies, or radio. Media plays a strong role on how children act to different situations that they may have seen. Sometimes the behaviors shown are very aggressive and children believe that is the way to solve the problem with the situation they are in. Behaviors of aggression could strongly affect the way children grow up.

In a study done by L. Rowell Huesmann et al. (1992) , a longitudinal experiment was perform to see if violence in the media had a lasting affect in children through their teenage years. The experiment involved two separate session ,one began in 1977 and the other in 1992 15 years later when the children became adults. In the first test session children were asked to choose their favorite programs from 8 different lists with ten programs on each list. Each list included very violent programs and non- violent programs. Then the children were asked of the shows chosen how often they had watched them using the different amounts including; every time it's on," "a lot, but not always," or "once in a while.". To make sure that programs on the list would definitely appeal to the children, Huesmann used the Nielsen ratings to pick the top rated shows for 6 to 11 year olds. The experimenters then coded the shows according to a scale of 1-5(non-violent to violent). The overall aggression score was computed by how often the children watch the show and how violent it was. In the second session of the experiment done in 1992 the same people were brought back to be tested. Only 329 of the participants could be found. But of those that were re-interviewed interesting results were established. In the second part the adults were asked basically the same criteria as they were 15 years early. Then raters asked these now adults if they could speak to 3 non -family members about there level of aggression. The results showed that the adults who were rated with "every time its on" and more violent shows( 4-5) when they were younger turned out to show more aggressive physical behavior towards their spouse and friends then children that were on the opposite end of the spectrum. This experiment showed that violence early on in life had a lasting affect on the now adults.

In a more famous study done by Bandura et al.(1961) showed that children are likely to imitate violent models. In this experiment there were two groups and a control. One group was the violent model group and then other being the non-violent group. The Participants where ages 37 months to 69 months. In the violent model group a subject was taken to a room and left alone and then a model came into interact with the subject. The model first began to play with some toys but soon stopped and started with aggressive behavior toward a 5 foot blow up bobo doll. After the aggressive behavior toward the doll the model began hitting and punching the doll. In the other non- violent model group the model just quietly played with tinker toys and completely ignored the doll. In the second portion of the experiment the child was allowed to go into a similar room with the same set up as the first and play. There was an observer rating the how the child acted with out the model in the room. The results showed that the children that had the violent model displayed a significant amount of violence towards the doll as their model did early. The non- violent basically showed no aggression towards the doll and just played with the tinker toys. This experiment showed that there was definite correlation between the violent model and the behavior exhibited by the child when they were alone.

In another experiment conducted by Liebart and Baron (1972) there was a strong correlation with violent behavior after viewing violent material. A group of kids ages from 5 to 9 was chosen and were subjected to the experiment one at a time. They were first warmed by watch watching 2 minutes of TV that was neutral to violent and non- violent. After the two minutes were up the children were randomly assigned to a non- violent group that went to watch an exciting sports sequence for three and half minutes. The other group was subjected to was three and half minutes of the movie "Untouchables" , which was rated "R". After the child was given the opportunity help another child or hurt them. They had could help the other child with the game they were playing or hurt by making the handle that the child was holding hot. After the experiment was over the results proved their hypothesis correctly. Children that watched the violent film were more likely to make the handle hot for another child then was the other non- violent movie group. Also later when the children were observed at play the subjects that had watched the violent film played more with the violent toys( fake guns and knives) then the other group.

A study by Bjorkqvist (1985) showed that even cartoon character violence has an affect on children. In the experiment who used 87 kids. 45 from preschool and 42 from second grade or 3 grade. He designated three different movies to the 18 groups he formed. One cartoon contained 50% violence, the second 20 %, and the last cartoon did not have any violent related material. In viewing the films the 18 groups viewed these movies in different order so there would not be a preference for any order. After the experiment was over a series of questions where asked about how the children felt. The children who watched the most violent filmed answered that they felt like they were the character in the cartoon committing the violent acts. In the non-violent group the children did not have any fantasy of violence reported. After this portion of the experiment was done the children were taken into a room and evaluated by two raters who did not know what type of film the children had watched. After the reports were taken the evidence showed that the children with the violent fantasies displayed more violent tendencies of kicking and pushing.

The last study I looked at was Belgium et al. who conducted a experiment that involved boys in two cottages. The experiment last for three weeks, which included a pre-movie week serving



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