.. es. In these situations. children’s creative and imaginative play is undermined, thus robbing children of the benefits of play for their development (Carlsson-Paige & Levin, 1990). In their play, children imitate those characters reinforced for their aggressive behavior and rehearse the characters’ scripts without creative or reflective thought.Children who repeatedly observe violent or aggressive problem-solving behavior in the media tend to rehearse what they see in their play and imitate those behaviors in real-life encounters (Huesmann, 1986; Rule & Ferguson, 1986; Eron & Huesmann, 1987). In short, children who are frequent viewers of media violence learn that aggression is a successful and acceptable way to achieve goals and solve problems; they are less likely to benefit from creative, imaginative play as the natural means to express feelings, overcome anger, and gain self-control.
Recommendations What should policymakers and broadcasters do? The reinstitution of FCC standards establishing limits on violent depictions during hours children are likely to watch television. Standards would also control the degree to which violence is depicted so as to be perceived by children as a normal and acceptable response to problems, as equated with power, as leading to reward or glorification of the perpetrator. An additional strategy would be to develop a parental guidance rating system for network and cable television, videotapes, and computer games similar to that established for movies.The self-regulating code of the National Association of Broadcasters (1980) was a responsible position of the television industry toward young children. As an immediate action, laws prohibiting the adoption of such voluntary standards as violations of anti-trust regulation should be repealed. Industry standards should also limit advertising during children’s programming in recognition of children’s inability to distinguish the advertising from programming content and to prevent acts of aggression or violence being separated from consequences by intervening commercials. Studies show that children up to eight years of age are less likely to learn the lesson of a program when ads intervene between an anti-social act and its consequences.
Finally, broadcasting standards should prohibit product-based programming and feature-length programs whose primary purpose is to sell toys, especially when those toys facilitate imitation of violent or aggressive acts seen on television. Children are unable to evaluate the quality and play value of such products depicted on television.Program-based advertising creates in children an insatiable desire for these single-use toys; children start to believe that they can’t play without the specific props seen on television (Carlsson-Paige & Levin, 1990). What can teachers do? Early childhood teachers have a responsibility to assist children in developing skills in nonviolent conflict resolution, to assist children to become critical viewers of all forms of media, and to encourage the constructive use of the media for instilling positive social values. Teachers need to be aware of what is currently being broadcast to children and to inform parents of the impact of violent media on children’s development.
Unfortunately, the effect of deregulation on the quality of children’s television has made it necessary for teachers and parents to be more vigilant that they would have to be if the government and television industry acted more responsibly toward children. Teachers can work with children when themes of television violence appear in their play to facilitate more appropriate problem solving and/or creative, imaginative play. Teachers should inform parents when negative or violent themes appear as a regular part of their children’s play and support parents in their efforts to monitor children’s viewing habits.As professionals, early childhood educators should share their knowledge of child development and the effects of violent media viewing with legislators and sponsors of children’s programming. It is the professional responsibility of early childhood educators to advocate for more developmentally and educationally appropriate programming for children. Teachers need to recognize that media are also a powerful teacher that can and should be used constructively with children. Contrary to popular belief, television viewing is not a passive activity; children are mentally active during television viewing (Anderson & Collins, 1988). The use of media as an educational tool should not be rejected because much of commercial television currently lacks educational value or promotes violence.
Instead, early childhood professionals should advocate for policy that eliminates violence and improves the educational value of media, and should use media constructively in their work with children. What can parents do? The absence of government regulation of children’s television has made parents’ job more difficult, necessitating more parental monitoring of what children see on television. This unfortunate situation places additional, unnecessary pressure on parents. Even when industry standards are developed, parents are responsible for monitoring the quality and quantity of the media to which their children are exposed. Standards will make the job easier, however.In the meantime, parents can watch television and other media with their children and evaluate the shows together. Children do not interpret programs the same way adults do.
Adults need to talk with children about what they observe through the media, to find out how children are interpreting what they see and to help clarify misinterpretations. Parents can designate an approved list of media options for their children and give children choices from among approved shows. Parents need to be aware that much of what children watch on television is not specifically intended for children.
It has been estimated that only 10% of children’s viewing time is spent watching children’s television; the other 90% is spent watching programs designed for adults (Van Dyck, 1983). Parents can assist children in finding alternatives to viewing adult television. In addition, parents can use videotapes of high quality children’s programming and public television when commercial alternatives are not available. As consumers, parents should recognize and use their influence with sponsors of children’s programs.
The primary purpose of commercial television is not to entertain or to educate but to sell products. Parents can communicate with advertisers on programs that are valuable, as well as sponsors of programs that are violent.Parents can also help their children become educated consumers and involve them in writing complaints to broadcasters and companies that use violent images in an attempt to sell toys and other products.
As taxpayers, parents can encourage their legislators to adopt policies to protect children from media violence. Conclusion The prevalence of violence in American society is a complex social problem that will not be easily solved. Violence in the media is only one manifestation of the larger society’s fascination with violence. However, media violence is not just a reflection of violent society, it is also a contributor.If our nation wishes to produce future generations of productive adults who reject violence as a means of problem solving, we must reassert the vital role of government in protecting its most vulnerable citizens and, together, work to make media part of the solution. Education.