In the recent times, people have been exposed to the media than ever before. Most of our homes comprise of TV sets, internet connections, and newspapers amongst others. The internet, for instance, is perceived as a tool that makes life easier by providing essential information. Obviously, excessive exposure to violent media has detrimental effects on the behaviors of the child (Escobar-Chaves, Liliana, and Craig A, 2008). All-encompassing research has revealed that media violence develops aggressive behavior to children. Therefore, stakeholders must ensure they promote a safer media environment for the children during developing through media literacy. Throughout this paper we will look into the stages of cognitive development, different types of media children are exposed to, some of the studies suggesting the effects of violence in the media on children, and suggestions on how to limit or correct children’s exposure to violent media
Stages of Cognitive Development
The stages of cognitive development are essential towards understanding the growth and development of children. Huitt & Hummel (2003) states that there are four stages of Piaget’s cognitive development, and this includes: Sensorimotor, Preoperational Preconceptual Intuitive, Concrete Operations, and Formal Operations. In the last three stages, the child is more exposed to violence portrayed in the media, and this has long-term effects.
Preoperational Preconceptual Intuitive
It can also be referred to as the toddler and early childhood stage. The period comprises of two sub-stages. A child intelligence is illustrated through the use of symbols, and language use matures. In the process, the memory and imagination of the child develop. Still, thinking is a nonreversible manner and nonlogical as egocentric thinking prevails
It is basically the elementary and early adolescence stage. The stage is defined by number, liquid, length, mass, volume, weight, and area. The logical and systematic of manipulation of symbols related to real objects is revealed. The egocentric thought weakens as a result of reversible mental actions.
It is the adolescence and the adulthood stage. The application of the logical use of symbols interrelated to abstract objects helps to demonstrate intelligence. During the early stages of this period, an individual returns to egocentric thoughts.
It has been established that most pre-school and primary programs are molded on Piaget’s theory. The model offers part of the foundation for constructivist learning. The parents and teachers are advised to challenge the abilities of the child at this stages. They are warned against presenting materials or vague information that can interfere with the development of the child. Instructors, parents, and guardians are expected to apply an assortment of concrete experiences to the child to boost the learning process.
According to LeFrancois (2011), the stages of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory affects the child at different times. The exposure to certain materials and information can affect a child on later stages on its life either as a teen or a young adult. For instance, children aged 7-12 are biding their thinking to concrete examples. Therefore, if they are exposed to violence, they will create a notion in their mind that it is acceptable within the universe (ibid).
Different types of violent media exposure are there in the world that children have access
Recently, the exposure of children to the media is growing at an alarming rate. In every corner, media is prevalent and unavoidable in our daily processes and norms. The access to the media is 24/7, and we cannot avoid it. For instance, almost all homes have a television set box and children will always find themselves glued to the screens. Other forms of media that are easily accessible include newspapers, magazines, and the internet. Children like to peruse over newspapers to see things that excite them. Also, the exposure to the internet has influenced the behavior of children. The youth will prefer seeking for online video games as they are more exciting and enticing (Ferguson, 2011). The exposure to the internet has not ended well. Instead of children using utilizing their time in a perfect way like studying, they use most of their free time to play online video games.
Also, the violent media exposure has grown into unimaginable extents amongst the youth. The society has already subscribed to the notion that it is okay for children and youth to play the video games. The behavior is becoming more realistic and acceptable within the society.
Beresin (2009) in his article “The impact of media violence on children and adolescents” exposes the increasing problem of violence in the modern society. The author stipulates that youths participate in violent acts because of the high rates of poverty, child abuse, and exposure to violent media. Beresin acknowledges that the accessibility and exposure to media have increased as indicated by statistics. In the 1950s, not more than half of Americans had accessibility to television sets, but currently, nearly all homes in the US have a TV. When a child is more exposed to violent behaviors, it ends up accepting violence as a normal thing in life.
Studies of the effects of media violence on children.
“The Psychological Effects of Violent Media on Children” article by Heffner pinpoints the idea that violent games influence the violet behavior in children (2003). In this article, Heffner expresses the exposure of children to violent programs like watching violent video games on the TV influences children in many ways. According to Heffner (2003), violent media makes children more horrendous of everything that revolves around them; they also become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, and they develop a habit of expressing aggressive behavior that may hurt people around them. On the contrary, the article posits that video games also have benefits to the development of the child. For instance, when children watch video games on a frequent basis, they may improve on hand-eye coordination.
In his article, Heffner (2003) asserts, “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is” (Heffner, 2003). Furthermore, researchers have also claimed that the violent acts in video games is highly associated with developing aggressive behavior in children compared to watching the ferocious acts on TV (Heffner, 2003). In other words, this might mean that children who have a habit of engaging in violent acts will have a likelihood of engaging in the violent acts. Moreover, most of the video games depict women as inferior beings because they are always acted upon. Grand Theft Auto game is an example of a video game that put more emphasis on violent behavior, prostitution, and theft (ibid).
The current generation is highly exposed to the violent behaviors and this a direct impact on the society. Most of the children that used to watch video games and other violent programs while growing tend to lose the sensitivity associated with violent behavior towards the people around them. Contrariwise, the developers of these video games and programs have defended their move by claiming that children are highly attracted to this type of violent entertainment. They go ahead to articulate that there are numerous factors that induce the violent behavior of children and video games are being used as a scapegoat. The research study in Heffner (2003) article emphasized that the contact of children and violent TV programs may lead to a healthy discharge for the terrifying emotions in young adults. The researchers goes ahead to indicate that when children are exposed to video games at a tender age, they may lack the capability to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Based on this notion, children engage in violent activities after being exposed to it from the TV, or through an online platform. Therefore, it is the role of the parent and the society as a whole to educate the children as they develop on what is good or inappropriate.
Solutions to restricting children’s access to violent media
The parent has an important role to play in limiting the exposure of children to violent media. First and foremost, parents and guardians must ensure that their children spend less or no time exposed to violent programs. The parents must ensure that they select effective programs in their families and discourage their children from watching programs with negative repercussions. The media literacy curricula can be of great help in ensuring that the kids understand the notion of violence. As a parent, it is always important to control the exposure of children to TV programs, media, and internet searches amongst others.
Nonetheless, the parents can also change the impact of violent images seen from the TV programs. They can sit down with their children and discuss the danger of practicing violent behavior within the society. It is also important to ensure that parents understand the effects of violent programs to children. Education will create awareness on the concept of violent behavior. Parents will, therefore, be in a position to detect and explore alternatives to media that will assist in solving conflicts with violence. It is always advisable for parents to sightsee the books or TV shows that consists of positive role models that counter the whereabouts and insolences associated with violent games.
The elucidation above depicts the significance of the stages of cognitive development and to what extent the exposure in each stage would influence the future of children. Also, the paper has expounded the forms of media that are subjected to the children and their effects. Moreover, the paper has also covered extensive research and studies that have supported that violent media induces violent and aggressive behaviors to the children. Nonetheless, the paper has stressed the need for the society to limit the exposure of children to media outlets. With the advancement of technologies, it is always critical to assess and monitor the type of programs and activities accessed by the children. If efficacious strategies and measures are put into place, the increasing rates of violence within the society will decrease.
Beresin, E. V. (2009). The impact of media violence on children and adolescents: Opportunities for clinical interventions. American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, The DevelopMentor. http://www. aacap. org/cs/root/developmentor/the_impact_of_media_violence_on_children_and_adolescents_opportunities_ for_clinical_interventions.
Escobar-Chaves, Liliana. and Anderson, Craig A..(2008). Media and Risky Behaviors. The Future of Children, Volume 18. Retrieved from
Ferguson, C.J. (2011). Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in Adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 40, No. 4
Heffner, Christopher L.. (2003). The Psychological Effects of Violent Media on Children. AllPsych Journal, Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/journal/violentmedia/
Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Educational psychology interactive, 3(2).
LeFrancois, G. (2011). Psychology: The Human Puzzle. San Diego, Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu