Sex and violence are common occurrences in the media and with the available exposure kids have to media, their behavior, perceptions and personalities can be easily influenced and distorted.
What media is reaching my children?
In today’s society, the average child watches four hours of television every day; listens to music between four and five hours; and plays video games up to seven hours a week.
Television watching is a favorite activity for kids; however, T.V. alone is estimated to be responsible for motivating at least10 percent of youth violence. Although some stations contain ratings for shows, it is important to keep in mind they are not always age appropriate.
Violent video games are the most heavily marketed and consumed games. Exposure to violent video games is has shown to increase levels of aggression in both young adults and children.
Music today sometimes contains very explicit lyrics that often reference sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence. Heavy metal and rap music are known to glorify violence and some artists have been charged with violent crimes in real life, which can distort children’s views of the real consequences that follow certain behavior.
What are the dangers of exposure to sex and violence in the media??
Younger children tend to model behavior they see and don’t always understand the difference between reality and entertainment; therefore, exposure to sex and violence through the media’s influence can:
- Cause aggressive or anti-social behavior. Media can promote aggressive behavior and can also influence children to believe violence is a good solution to solve problems.
- Create a false sense of reality. Young children can’t always discriminate between real life situations and behaviors and surreal television examples.
- Encourage irresponsible sexual activity. Kids exposed to sex on TV are almost twice as likely to initiate sexual intercourse.
- Cause a child to perceive the world as more dangerous and have a darker view about the world.
- Desensitize and cause a lack of empathy for human suffering.
- Distort expectations of conflict resolution, race and male-female relationships.
What can you do to help protect you child from the negative effects of the media?
Media is everywhere but there are ways to help protect your children from the harmful effects:
- Monitor what your child is watching.
- Set limits on their exposure to TV, radio and video games.
- Talk with your child about what they see and hear. It might be awkward but if you don’t talk to them, the media may be their only other source of information.
- Help them develop realistic perceptions of the roles sex and violence have in society.
- Encourage activities OTHER than watching TV or playing video games that allow them practice pro-social behavior.