The invention of televised media and video technology came with a number of challenges, especially because modern societies rely too heavily on the media for entertainment and communication. However, one of the most debated topics in this field is the possible impact of media on children and adolescents.
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Since 1970s, several empirical studies have suggested that exposure to violent scenes in televised media has a high likelihood of instilling aggressive behaviour in children (Paik & Comstock, 2004).
While a number of scholars in education and psychology have done some research to refute this claim, there is adequate evidence, from research and theory, that confirms that violent media causes aggressive behaviour in children.
Using social cognitive and other learning theories, it would be clear to support the empirical studies that support the postulate that violent social media causes aggressiveness in children.
Albert Bandura (1997) provides this field of study with adequate background on which one can clearly show that media violence causes aggressiveness in children. In his social learning theory, Bandura attempts to show how people learn from observations and thereafter take similar actions to those learnt from observation.
Within this context, the cognitive theory of learning argues that internal mental states are an integral part of observational learning (Bandura, 1997). Thus, in social setting, people acquire new information from observing the behaviours of others.
Using this theory, it is evident that children are likely to take the behaviours of other people in the society; especially they are exposed to such behaviours for a substantial time.
Adding on this, studies have shown that children are more likely to learn from observing than older people. This is true because children often learn from imitations, right from acquisition of language. It is also evident that children take the behaviours they frequently observe in their lives.
In his famous Bobby doll experiment, Bandura found that children become aggressive towards an object or a person once they observe another person behaving in the same manner (Bandura, 1997).
However, some opponents of this theory attempt to argue that the violence a child acquires from observation is short-term, and may not appear as the child grow up. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the frequency of exposure to a given behaviour is directly proportional to the time length of existence of a given type of behaviour in a child.
In fact, violent behaviour is constant in televised media and the TV and videos are at the disposal of modern children (Hogben, 2008).
Secondly, opponents tend to argue that within the context of social cognitive learning, three other different psychological processes normally increase the behaviour of a child. First, priming of a pre-existing aggressive script, angry emotions and aggressive cognitions contribute to social cognitive learning.
They also argue that simple mimicking of aggressive script play an important role, alongside changes in emotional arousal due to stimulations by observing scenes of violence (Hurley & Chatter, 2004).
However, it is important to clarify here that human mind behaves as an associative body of network where themes or ideas are partially primed, activated or triggered by a stimuli that could be internal and external.
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Actually, aggressiveness develops this same way in children (Anderson & Bushman, 2008). Exposure to media violence develops some similar behaviour in children once they come across stimuli that provoke a more similar situation to the televised scene.
Here, children develop aggressiveness by reacting to a stimuli they same way they have been seeing characters behave on television and video.
In conclusion, exposure to media violence increases the rate of violence in children, both in short term and long term. In addition, this postulate is better explained by social cognitive learning, which is one of the main processes through which human learn in childhood.
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Media violence and societal violence Science, 2(9), 2377- 2378
Bandura, A. (1997). Social Learning Theory. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall
Hogben, M. (2008). Factors moderating the effect of television aggression on viewer behavior. Communic Res, 2(5), 220- 247
Hurley, S., & Chatter, N. (2004). Perspectives on Imitation: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Social Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Paik, H., & Comstock, G. (2004). The effects of television violence on antisocial behavior: a meta-analysis. Communic Res 2(1), 516- 546