Impact of Media on the Psychological Development of Children in Today’s World
Any means of communication through television, radio or newspaper is known as media (Dictionary.com, 2015), and communication through electronic ways or by using social networking websites is called social media (Webster, 2015).
Media plays an important role in our daily lives. In my opinion, media has a great influence in a child’s growth, in both positive and negative ways. Sometimes it creates a bad impact on children if they are using it unnecessarily or too much. Some of the common concerns are exposure to violence, aggression, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language. On the other hand, children can spend their time watching television and using social media because it helps them to keep in contact with their loved ones.
Media can also help children enhance their learning abilities by watching some informative activities or news. Some video games also enhance physical work like playing games on X-box via Kinect. Some sports channels do nail children’s interest and if they engage themselves in sports they can improve their health.
However social media should be used within reasonable limits, focusing more on interpersonal activities which can be useful in enhancing one’s productivity. Excessive and inappropriate media use can cause several problems, including behavioral change, educational problems and physical disability like visual and hearing problems.
According to American Psychological Association (2003) critics suggest excessive video gaming and watching television may result in children being overweight, having poorer reading skills, playing less physical and mental exercise games. With their mind continuously involved in video games, they may become less sensitive, having less emotions and feelings for others.
Children may be more fearful of the world around them, which can result in an outburst of aggression towards others. Everything which children observe in media in early life, can affect them in some ways. I have witnessed my own younger brother, as a child he would watch violent aggressive cartoons and action movies. Inappropriate language was very common in some of these shows. As he was in his developmental stage he caught every single word of it and also acted on it. His behavior changed, he became hostile and stubborn. In early childhood development the children learn from their surrounding sources i.e. media, and violence shown on TV leaves a lasting negative impression on them.
Theories of personality
According to McLeod (2011) the social learning theory of Bandura’s suggests that children learn everything in early life from their elders or people around them. They often model their behavior accordingly as observed in their home or from people who are ideal to them. They uses words or phrases which may seem cute on them but often create a bad impression on others. We reinforce them to repeat the same and encourage them which later greatly disappoints us in front of other cultured people.
The theory of B.F Skinner explains that the idea of reinforcement can be used in certain circumstances when it is good for grooming in positive aspects but reinforcement has to be excluded or escaped when it goes in false direction (McLeod, 2015). The idea of positive reinforcement can be used in a beneficial manner.
Some advertisements help children in changing their behavior. For example “Colgate” the advertisement reinforce children to brush their teeth twice a day which kills germs. It is a positive sign that children brush their teeth and help them to be healthy from the advertisement. The cartoon Popeye the sailor inspires children to eat spinach which gives them important nutrients. The use of vegetables in a positive aspect is shown and taken by this advertisement.
According to World Health Organization (2015): “Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal development, or deprivation”. According to Gayyur (2013) some media channels encourage children of young age to carry out offences & criminal acts, as they teach them how to plan and how to make full use of their planned work.
Accordingly, children are found committing criminal acts like snatching after having been influenced by mass media. It impacts them negatively, so that rather than feeling sympathy for the victims of violent offenders, they are encouraged to copy the offenders. The person, who tends to watch crimes on daily basis via news channels or any other media, becomes desensitized to it.
“In psychology, the term aggression refers to a range of behaviors that can result in both physical and psychological harm to oneself, other or objects in the environment. The expression of aggression can occur in a number of ways, including verbally, mentally, and physically” (Cherry, 2015). People often get aggressive on media news shows. Even while recording their protest on the occurrence of a violent act, they adopt aggression themselves, thus the venting their anger over a situation.
Most of the time media persons post the negative outcomes of the situation, not giving any value to the positive outcomes. As a result of this continuous posting and propagating of negative images and news, people get used to this negativity, becoming more hardcore and insensitive to these aggressive actions, no longer remaining angry at the perpetrator of the crime and simply considering it a normal everyday situation. Moreover, the child learns from these cartoons which is actually the world of fantasy but they presume that this is real world and they adopt the habit which leads to aggression.
According to the Gruber and Grube (2000) although sexual content can affect any age group of the society but it mostly affects the people of early age group especially to the children whose development process is in progress. This content poses special risks to this particular age group because their gender group, sexual attitude and sexual behavior are being shaped. They initially analyzed the decision shown to them and they base these initial decisions on future products which have not yet been established in their minds. They grab the shown thing and try that in their life without knowing the realities and statistics beyond the scene.
According to Jackson and Cohen (2012): Cyber Bullying is the act of using the Internet, cell phones, video games, or other technology gadgets to send, text, or post images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. It is also defined as acts of aggression through computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. According to The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of psychiatrists (2011) bullying may directly lead to some mental problems. Due to mobile phones and social media websites it has been noticed that there is a greater number of children being bullied than before. On the other hand, sharing material about unsuitable and untimely topics may result in depression as well.
According to computer desktop encyclopedia (2015): “Spending an excessive amount of time on the Internet is to be diagnosed as Internet addiction disorder”. The long term use of internet by a child may have negative and significant effect on his education, work, families and health status. There may be multiple changes in their brain such as mood swings, craving, dependency, need and withdrawal features. Also, they cannot concentrate while doing work.
A number of studies have found that increasing numbers of children are having sleep deprivation as compared to the previous generation. According to many researches there is a strong relationship between exposure to media and sleep problems. They often go through unusual sleep patterns which can disturb their daily routine. The Columbia University has analyzed a research that shows that the children who watch television for 3 or more hours ended up with a higher risk of sleep problems as compared to those who watch television only for 1 hour or less. (Johnson et al, 2004)
To bring a change some steps should be taken by involving parents and their children so that there can be reduction in the psychological impacts of media. We recommend some strategies to get rid of these problems. Some of the interventions we should perform include awareness sessions for parents and children so that they should be alert and know about the advantages and disadvantages of media and its consequences. They should be taught about strategies which would help them to reduce the exposure of their child to media.
Another way is to encourage parents to be involved in active monitoring they should keep an eye on their children and the activities in which they are involved and discussion about the media within the family. Inappropriate and unsafe media content should be blocked or restricted. The children should watch programs according to their age. On the other hand, children themselves should make a record for a week in which all media content should be documented and then make a discussion with family members so that they identify the line between the risky content which may involuntarily create the complications for them later on. Parents should limit the time for their child to watch television or use internet on daily basis. Also, child’s room should be free from electronic media milieu.
In the end, I would like to conclude that there are many advantages and disadvantages of media. It all depends upon the manner we use it. If we take media as a source of benefit then we can get much information via it and it will surely help us in many ways such as contacting each other, some of its source will help us to be healthy. It will also help in improving learning practices. On the other hand, if they use media in a wrong way then there can be many disadvantages of it. There can be aggressive behavior, many physical, social and psychological problems which will further lead to many consequences in later life.
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