Censorship and children: The viewing of violence and inappropriate material Most people would agree that media channelling is not suitable for all types of audiences. For instance, there need to be some limitations placed on the type and contents of media which young children are exposed to. The media which is accessible to a wide and varied audience (television programmes being shown before the watershed) should not contain elements which might be offensive. This is the practice of censorship. The average child watches three to four hours of television daily. Couple that with Internet surfing and the potential exposure to violence and inappropriate content is much greater. Our society has been bombarded with violence from the beginning of time. Concerns about violence in the media have been around before television and the internet were introduced. Back in ancient Greece, the philosopher Plato believed that exposure to the emotions of the arts (especially drama) would encourage people to act out violent emotions portrayed in the drama. As documented in his work The Republic, Plato believed strongly that the perfect life was comprised of balance and harmony in and that any stimulated emotions would result in an imbalance. The first theorist to challenge Plato's idea was his well-known student, Aristotle. Aristotle’s view was the opposite of Plato’s and he felt that exposure to the strong emotions of the arts had a positive psychological effect on people. Aristotle thought it gave them a chance to let out any emotional frustrations that they might have bottled up inside. “Nor can there be a doubt that the younger will not strike or do any other violence to an elder, unless the magistrates command him; nor will he slight him in any way. For there are two guardians, shame and fear, mighty to prevent him; shame, which makes men refrain from laying hands on those who are to them in the relation of parents.” (Plato, The Republic) There have been numerous studies and research done over the years on television and the internet, and the issue still remains. Researchers do acknowledge that violence portrayed on television is a potential danger. One issue is clear though, our focus on television and internet violence should not take attention away from other significant causes of violence in our country such as: drugs, inadequate parenting, availability of weapons, unemployment, etc. Firstly let’s look at television violence and the effect this may have on children. It is hard to report on how violent television effects society, since television affects different people in different ways. There is a significant problem with violence on television that we as a society are going to have to acknowledge and face. Children are the most vulnerable members of the viewing public. Once the television is switched on and a program is being viewed, few children will turn to another channel if the program being aired is unsuitable. Prurient content is almost irresistible to any child and even if it is scary, the child might remain glued to the screen until the program is ended, by which time the damage is done. There have been studies on the influence of media violence since the 1950's, when television viewing first cemented itself onto the viewing public. The force behind media violence research is the theory that aggressive behaviour in cartoons, video games, movies, and now the internet, will encourage the same tendencies in children.
How strong the relationship between media violence and children's aggressive behaviour is actually debatable. The dramatic increase in interpersonal violence in the past century has occurred at the same time as other dramatic changes in life-styles produced by the great technological revolutions of the 20th Century. Among the most notable of these for child development has been the introduction of the mass visual media into children’s everyday life. One of the earliest studies on media violence dates back...
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