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Psychosocial development of children

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 5454 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.1 Introduction

The influence of the media on the psychosocial development of children is profound. Thus, it is important for physicians to discuss with parents their child’s exposure to media and to provide guidance on age-appropriate use of all media, including television, radio, music, video games and the Internet.

In a matter of seconds, most children can mimic a movie or TV character, sing an advertising jingle, or give other examples of what they have learned from media. Sadly, these examples may include naming a popular brand of beer, striking a “sexy” pose, or play fighting. Children only have to put a movie into the VCR, open a magazine, click on a Web site, or watch TV to experience all kinds of messages. It really is that easy.

Media offer entertainment, culture, news, sports, and education. They are an important part of our lives and have much to teach. But some of what they teach may not be what we want children to learn.

This report gives an overview of some of the messages media send young people that could be negative or harmful to their health. You will learn how you can teach your children to better understand the media messages they see and hear in print, over airwaves, on networks, and on-line.

The objectives of this study are to explore the beneficial and harmful effects of media on children’s mental and physical health, and to identify how physicians can counsel patients and their families and promote the healthy use of the media in their communities.

Effects of media is categorise as 1)internet 2)music video 3)video games 4)television


What would be the possible impact of media on youth due to the increasing trend of violence, sexual abuses, nutritional disorders, less reading habits and useless long hour’s television viewing?


The objective of the study was to measure the impact of media on children and youth in Peshawar region in year 2008. In this report I try to find out that how television is affecting our young generation and what are the pros and cons of watching the television.


The literature survey has been structured as follow:

  • First impact of different media on youth and children were discussed.
  • Then the impact of television on youth and children were discussed.

1.4.1. Impact of Different Media on Youth

According to Canadian pediatric society (PP 2003-01). “The impact of media use on children and youth has a severe impact on children lives.

In a research carried out by media awareness network (USA) Media exert a significant displacement effect 2 to 3hours per day spent watching television or playing video games means less physical activity, reading, and interaction with friends but such data do not speak to cause-and-effect concerns. Likewise, content analyses can only demonstrate what the average child or adolescent will view. Even so, such analyses are disturbing when they reveal what the average American child or teenager is exposed to annually.

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Now how can you guide you’re child’s television viewing? The government, in cooperation with the television industry, has implemented a rating system for television programming. This system is to help guide parents and assist them in establishing guidelines for their children’s TV viewing. However, the American Psychological Association Help Center reminds us that television networks rate their own programs, unlike the motion picture association.

In 1996, the Telecommunications Act was passed in an attempt to help parents restrict the viewing habits of their children. The Act specifies that all television sets sold in the United States must contain a programmable v-chip. Mark Nadel, an attorney specializing in communication law and policy, explains that this will allow parents to block undesirable programming.

Even with the rating system and the v-chip in place, parents still need to take an active interest in what their children are watching on television. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Education

Set Limits. Know how much TV your child is watching. Set some basic rules such as no television before homework or chores are done or during meals.

Participate. Watch TV with your child and discuss the program. Ask them questions and express your views. This will also let you know what your children are watching.

Monitor. Avoid shows, movies, or video games that have violent or sexual content. Encourage children to watch programs about characters who show cooperation and caring.

Analyze Commercials. Help children to critically evaluate advertisements.

Be a Good Role Model. This suggestion comes from the Parents as Teachers National Center. Because children model behavior, set a good example with your own television viewing habits. Avoid watching programs containing adult content when your child is in the room or nearby.

The power of media messages

Sometimes you can see the impact of media right away, such as when your child watches superheroes fighting and then copies their moves during play. But most of the time the impact is not so immediate or obvious. It occurs slowly as children see and hear certain messages over and over, such as the following:

  • Fighting and other violence used as a way to “handle” conflict
  • Cigarettes and alcohol shown as cool and attractive, not unhealthy and deadly
  • Sexual action with no negative results, such as disease or unintended pregnancy

Further the power of the media and its effects can be seen as:

Music Videos

Music videos may have a significant behavioral impact by desensitizing viewers to violence and making teenagers more likely to approve of premarital sex (American academy of pediatrics community of music and videos). Up to 75% of videos contains sexually explicit material (American academy of pediatrics community of music and videos), and more than half contains violence that is often committed against women. Women are portrayed frequently in a condescending manner that affects children’s attitudes about sex roles. Attractive role models are the aggressors in more than 80% of music video violence. Males are more than three times as likely to be the aggressors; blacks were overrepresented and whites underrepresented. Music videos may reinforce false stereotypes. A detailed analysis of music videos raised concerns about its effects on adolescents’ normative expectations about conflict resolution; race and male-female relationships (Rich M). Music lyrics have become increasingly explicit, particularly with references to sex, drugs and violence. Research linking a cause-and-effect relationship between explicit lyrics and adverse behavioral effects is still in progress at this time. Meanwhile, the potential negative impact of explicit music lyrics should put parents and pediatricians on guard – pediatricians should bring this up in anticipatory guidance discussions with teenagers and their parents. At the very least, parents should take an active role in monitoring the music their children are exposed

Video Games

Some video games may help the development of fine motor skills and coordination, but many of the concerns about the negative effects of television (e.g., inactivity, asocial behavior and violence) also apply to excessive exposure to video games. Violent video games should be discouraged because they have harmful effects on children’s mental development (Thompson KM). Parents should be advised to familiarize themselves with various rating systems for video games and use this knowledge to make their decisions.

The effect of violent video games on children has been a public health concern for many years. No quantitative analysis of video game contents for games rated as suitable for all audiences were made until 2001 (Thompson KM). The study concluded that many video games rated as suitable for all audiences contained significant amounts of violence (64% contained intentional violence and 60% rewarded players for injuring a character). Therefore, current ratings of video games leave much room for improvement (Walls D)


Parents may feel outsmarted or overwhelmed by their children’s computer and Internet abilities, or they may not appreciate that the ‘new medium’ is an essential component of the new literacy, something in which their children need to be fluent. These feelings of inadequacy or confusion should not prevent them from discovering the Internet’s benefits. The dangers inherent in this relatively uncontrolled ‘wired’ world are many and varied, but often hidden. These dangers must be unmasked and a wise parent will learn how to protect their children by immersing themselves in the medium and taking advice from the many resources aimed at protecting children while allowing them to reap the rich benefits in a safe environment. The physician is in a good position to encourage parents and children to discover the Internet and to use it wisely.

The Internet has a significant potential for providing children and youth with access to educational information, and can be compared with a huge home library. However, the lack of editorial standards limits the Internet’s credibility as a source of information. There are other concerns as well.

The amount of time spent watching television and sitting in front of computers can affect a child’s postural development (Salter RB). Excessive amounts of time at a computer can contribute to obesity, undeveloped social skills and a form of addictive behavior (Canadian Pediatrics society). Although rare, some children with seizure disorders are more prone to attacks brought on by a flickering television or computer screen. No data suggest that television viewing cause weakness of the eyes. It may be different when a child is closely exposed to a computer screen for long periods, although there are no definitive references to support this.

Other concerns include pedophiles that use the Internet to lure young people into relationships. There is also the potential for children to be exposed to pornographic material. Parents can use technology that blocks access to pornography and sex talk on the Internet, but must be aware that this technology does not replace their supervision or guidance.


Television has the potential to generate both positive and negative effects, and many studies have looked at the impact of television on society, particularly on children and adolescents (Johnson JG). An individual child’s developmental level is a critical factor in determining whether the medium will have positive or negative effects. Not all television programs are bad, but data showing the negative effects of exposure to violence, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language are convincing (American academy of pediatrics). Still, physicians need to advocate continued research into the negative and positive effects of media on children and adolescents

Television’s Impact on Kids

Television is one of the most prevalent media influences in kids’ lives. According to Kids’ Take on Media, a survey conducted in 2003 by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, watching TV is a daily pastime for 75 percent of Canadian children, both boys and girls from Grade 3 to Grade 10.

How much impact TV has on children depends on many factors: how much they watch, their age and personality, whether they watch alone or with adults, and whether their parents talk with them about what they see on TV.

To minimize the potential negative effects of television, it’s important to understand what the impact of television can be on children. Below you will find information on some areas of concern.

Family is the most important influence in a child’s life, but television is not far behind. Television can inform, entertain and teach us. However, some of what TV teaches may not be what you want your child to learn. TV programs and commercials often show violence, alcohol or drug use and sexual content that are not suitable for children or teenagers. Studies show that TV viewing may lead to more aggressive behavior, less physical activity, altered body image, and increased use of drugs and alcohol. By knowing how television affects your children and by setting limits, you can help make your child’s TV-watching experience less harmful, but still enjoyable.

You may not realize it, but there are many ways that television affects your child’s life. When your child sits down to watch TV, consider the following:


Television can be a powerful teacher (Wright JC). Watching Sesame Street is an example of how toddlers can learn valuable lessons about racial harmony, cooperation, kindness, simple arithmetic and the alphabet through an educational television format. Some public television programs stimulate visits to the zoo, libraries, bookstores, museums and other active recreational settings, and educational videos can certainly serve as powerful prosocial teaching devices. The educational value of Sesame Street has been shown to improve the reading and learning skills of its viewers (Huston AC). In some disadvantaged settings, healthy television habits may actually be a beneficial teaching tool (Wright JC).

Still, watching television takes time away from reading and schoolwork. More recent and well-controlled studies show that even 1 h to 2 h of daily-unsupervised television viewing by school-aged children has a significant deleterious effect on academic performance, especially reading.

Television affects how your child learns. High quality, nonviolent children’s shows can have a positive effect on learning. Studies show that preschool children who watch educational TV programs do better on reading and math tests than children who do not watch those programs. When used carefully, television can be a positive tool to help your child learn.

For older children, high-quality TV programs can have benefits. However, for younger children it’s a very different story. The first two years of life are especially important in the growth and development of your child’s brain. During this time, children need good, positive interaction with other children and adults to develop good language and social skills. Learning to talk and play with others is far more important than watching television.

Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children younger than two years of age. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours per day of quality screen time.


Studies show that children who watch too much television are more likely to be overweight. They do not spend as much time running, jumping and getting the exercise they need. They often snack while watching TV. They also see many commercials for unhealthy foods, such as candy, snacks, sugary cereals and drinks. Commercials almost never give information about the foods children should eat to keep healthy. As a result, children may persuade their parents to buy unhealthy foods. Because television takes time away from play and exercise activities, children who watch a lot of television are less physically fit and more likely to eat high fat and high energy snack foods (CPC). Television viewing makes a substantial contribution to obesity because prime time commercials promote unhealthy dietary practices (J.C). The fat content of advertised products exceeds the current average Canadian diet and nutritional recommendations, and most food advertising is for high calorie foods such as fast foods, candy and presweetened cereals (J.C). Commercials for healthy food make up only 4% of the food advertisements shown during children’s viewing time (ditz WH). The number of hours of television viewing also corresponds with an increased relative risk of higher cholesterol levels in children (ditz WH). Television can also contribute to eating disorders in teenage girls, who may emulate the thin role models seen on television (ditz WH). Eating meals while watching television should be discouraged because it may lead to less meaningful communication and, arguably, poorer eating habits (Briggs).

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Today, television has become a leading sex educator in Canada. Between 1976 and 1996, there has been a 270% increase in sexual interactions during the family hour of 2000 hours to 2100 hours (crespo CJ). Television exposes children to adult sexual behaviors in ways that portray these actions as normal and risk-free, sending the message that because these behaviors are frequent, ‘everybody does it’. Sex between unmarried partners is shown 24 times more often than sex between spouses (AAP), while sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy are rarely mentioned.

Teens rank the media as the leading source of information about sex, second only to school sex education programs. Numerous studies document adolescents’ susceptibility to the media’s influence on their sexual attitudes, values and beliefs (brown JD).

A detailed guide to responsible sexual content on television and in films and music can be found in other peer-reviewed publications (brown JD).

­Some people believe that the media can influence sexual responsibility by promoting birth control, such as condom use. No current empirical evidence supports this concept; it is expected that the debate will continue.

Alcohol and smoking

Messages about tobacco and alcohol are everywhere in media. Kids see characters on screen smoking and drinking. They see signs for tobacco and alcohol products at concerts and sporting events. Advertising and movies send kids the message that smoking and drinking make a person sexy or cool and that “everyone does it.” Advertising also sways teens to smoke and drink. Teens who see a lot of ads for beer, wine, liquor, and cigarettes admit that it influences them to want to drink and smoke. It is not by chance that the three most advertised cigarette brands are also the most popular ones smoked by teens.

Advertisers of tobacco and alcohol purposely leave out the negative information about their products. As a result, young people often do not know what the health risks are when they use these products. Sometimes TV broadcasts and print articles do the same thing. For example, a magazine might do a story about the common causes of cancer but not mention smoking as a top cause. Does your child know why? The answer may be that the magazine publisher takes money to publish tobacco ads or even owns another company that makes cigarettes.

Canada’s two largest breweries spend $200 million on advertising each year (McKenzie). On an annual basis, teenagers see between 1000 and 2000 beer commercials carrying the message that ‘real’ men drink beer. Convincing data suggest that advertising increases beer consumption (brown JD), and in countries such as Sweden, a ban on alcohol advertising has led to a decline in alcohol consumption (romelsjo).

Tobacco products are not advertised directly on television in Canada. However, passive promotion occurs when, for example, a soap opera star light a cigarette in a ‘macho’ act, a Formula One race car has cigarette advertising on it or sporting events carry the names of tobacco companies. There is evidence that passive advertising, which glamorizes smoking has increased over the past few years.

Television is not the only way that children learn about tobacco and alcohol use; the concern is that the consequences of these behaviors are not accurately depicted on television. One-half of the G-rated animated feature films available on videocassette, as well as many music videos, show alcohol and tobacco use as normative behaviors without conveying the long-term consequences of this use (Thomas K).

Viewing habit

It’s easy to let your child fall into the TV trap. First you let him unwind with a cartoon after school. Then you let him keep the television on while you make dinner. Before you know it, he — like the average American kid — is watching four hours a day, well above the two-hour maximum limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

TV has a powerful hold on most school-age kids. It provides the effortless entertainment they crave. By this age, children can also have a measure of control over what they watch: They’ve mastered the remote, and their reading and time-telling skills help them figure out when their favorite programs are scheduled. “They’re also intensely curious, and TV is one way they learn about the world,” says Jane Healy, PhD, author of Your Child’s Growing Mind. “But its imperative that parents set limits on both content and the amount of screen time.”

Here’s why: Early grade-schoolers lack the ability to regulate their own viewing habits. And a child who’s constantly glued to the set is missing out on the chance to exercise, socialize, study, and play. Numerous studies have shown that young kids who watch too much TV struggle with schoolwork and are more likely to behave aggressively and become overweight than those who don’t. Want to curb your child’s viewing habits? Here are seven strategies you may not have tried yet.


Advertising can have positive effects on children’s behavior. For example, some alcohol manufacturers spend 10% of their budget on advertisements warning about the dangers of drinking and driving. In addition, although some health care professionals disagree about the health benefits of appropriate milk use, milk consumption has increased as a result of print and broadcast advertisements.

The developmental stage of a child plays a role in the effect of commercials. Young children do not understand the concept of a sales pitch. They tend to believe what they are told and may even assume that they are deprived if they do not have advertised products. Most preschool children do not understand the difference between a program designed to entertain and a commercial designed to sell. A number of studies have documented that children under the age of eight years are developmentally unable to understand the difference between advertising and regular programming (Michael).

The average child sees more than 20,000 commercials each year (AAP). More than 60% of commercials promote sugared cereals candy fatty foods and toys (AAP). Cartoon programs based on toy products are especially attractive. Advertisements targeting adolescents are profoundly influential, particularly on cigarette use (Strasburg VC).

The question of whether children are more resilient to the influence of television is debated frequently. Most studies show that the more time children spend watching television, the more they are influenced by it (Strasburg VC). Earlier studies have shown that boys may be more susceptible than girls to television violence (Gould MS).


Children in the United States watch about four hours of TV every day. Watching movies on tape or DVD and playing video games only adds to time spent in front of the TV screen. It may be tempting to use television, movies and video games to keep your child busy, but your child needs to spend as much time exploring and learning as possible. Playing, reading and spending time with friends and families is much healthier than sitting in front of a TV screen.

Professional Wrestling

In recent years, the entertainment industry saw the booming and revitalization of professional wrestling. Professional wrestling is so popular today that ABC’s Monday Night Football and the NBA Playoffs were dominated in terms of ratings (Fennelly). Professional wrestling continuously tops the charts among cable programming. In spite of all this, what is happening to America’s youth? Vince McMahon, the chairman and owner of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), reports that 15% of his audience are 11 years old and under. Another 15% are between 12 and 17 years old. Adults from 18 years and older comprise the other 70% of the total viewers. McMahon notes his television shows are rated TV14 (McMahon). However, what happens to the 15%, or one million viewers of his audience who are 11 years old and under?

Some people blame professional wrestling as the cause for an increase in violence among children. The two top organizations today are the WWF and its rival, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). WCW is a little more toned down than the WWF. In either case, violence is available to children across America every Monday night. In one episode of WCW, “Macho Man” Randy Savage attacked an opponent and his valets, Miss Madness and Gorgeous George, jumped off a turnbuckle onto his opponent and choked him out with a heel (Fennelly).

Today’s version of professional wrestling, WWF in particular, is more violent, sexual, and vulgar than ever before (Fennelly). Many pediatricians and parents argue that wrestling is teaching children at a young age everything that is bad in society. Is it acceptable to make racial stereotypes? Is it acceptable to make crude remarks? Is it acceptable to have children say, “Kiss my ass” or “Suck it” (Rosellini)? In a shocking study of 50 episodes done by an Indiana University-Inside Edition, there were “1,658 instances of grabbing or pointing to one’s crotch, 157 instances of an obscene finger gesture, 128 episodes of simulated sexual activity, and 21 references to urination” (Rosellini). In other episodes of the controversial wrestling shows, a mock crucifixion, S&M scenes, wrestlers mooning others and a woman sucking on an Italian sausage was shown (Rosellini).

Some of the characters depicted on WWF television advertise a type of message not meant for children. The character Val Venis, portrays a former film star that gyrates over opponents in the ring. (WWF Val Venis) Then, there is the Undertaker who portrays every bit of evil as a messenger of death. (WWF Undertaker) Val Venis’ friend is the Godfather who portrays a pimp. Before every match, a few ho’s (whores) accompany him to the ring. (WWF Godfather) Finally, there is Debra, who uses sex by stripping to her underwear on television to distract an opponent. Even more shocking is the way her breasts have come to be known as “puppies” (WWF Debra). Therefore, besides violence, kids are exposed to sex and death on television. In fact, Rena Mero, a former WWF employee, recently filed suit claiming that the WWF had become “obscene and violent” (USA Today


The amount of violence on television is on the rise . The average child sees 12,000 violent acts on television annually, including many depictions of murder and rape. More than 1000 studies confirm that exposure to heavy doses of television violence increases aggressive behavior, particularly in boys (AAP). Other studies link television or newspaper publicity of suicides to an increased suicide risk.

The following groups of children may be more vulnerable to violence on television:

  • Children from minority and immigrant groups;
  • Emotionally disturbed children;
  • Children with learning disabilities;
  • Children who are abused by their parents; and
  • Children in families in distress.

Physicians who see a child with a history of aggressive behavior should inquire about the child’s exposure to violence portrayed on television.

Children learn their attitudes about violence at a very young age and these attitudes tend to last. Although TV violence has been studied the most, researchers are finding that violence in other media impacts children and teens in many of the same harmful ways.

From media violence children learn to behave aggressively toward others. They are taught to use violence instead of self-control to take care of problems or conflicts.

Violence in the “media world” may make children more accepting of real-world violence and less caring toward others. Children who see a lot of violence from movies, TV shows, or video games may become more fearful and look at the real world as a mean and scary place.

Although the effects of media on children might not be apparent right away, children are being negatively affected. Sometimes children may not act out violently until their teen or young-adult year.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of studies have examined how violent programming on TV affects children and young people. While a direct “cause and effect” link is difficult to establish, there is a growing consensus that some children may be vulnerable to violent images and messages.

Researchers have identified three potential responses to media violence in children:

Increased fear—also known as the “mean and scary world” syndrome

Children, particularly girls, are much more likely than adults to be portrayed as victims of violence on TV, and this can make them more afraid of the world around them.

Desensitization to real-life violence Some of the most violent TV shows are children’s cartoons, in which violence is portrayed as humorous—and realistic consequences of violence are seldom shown. This can be especially true of young children, who are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior after viewing violent TV shows or movies.

Parents should also pay close attention to what their children see in the news since studies have shown that kids are more afraid of violence in news coverage than in any other media content. Fear based on real news events increases as children get older and is better able to distinguish fantasy from reality

The Research Center for Families and Children indicates that moderate television watching with discretion in program viewing can be somewhat beneficial for school age children. Van Evra is in agreement. Both indicate that those children who watched a moderate amount of TV performed better academically than those children who excessively watched television or those children who did not watch television at all.

Research on media violence is often misunderstood by the general public. One reason has to do with research methodology. We can’t randomly assign children early in their lives to watch different doses of violence on television and then 15 years later see which children committed violent crimes. But the same type of limitation also exists for medical research: We can’t randomly assign groups of people to smoke differing amounts of cigarettes for 15 years, and then count the number of people who developed cancer.

Tobacco researchers conduct correlational studies in which they look at the amount people have smoked during their lives and then chart the rate at which they have succumbed to cancer. They control statistically for other factors, of course–other healthy and unhealthy behaviors that either reduce or promote the tendency to develop cancer. Then they can find out whether smoking contributed to cancer, over and above these other influences. And since they can’t do cancer experiments on people, they use animal studies. These are artificial, but they tell us something about the short-term effects of tobac


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