The use of social networks, the Internet, video games, television, cell phones, and many other electronic devices and digital platforms has accelerated in recent years and the number of children who consume these elements has dramatically increased.This fact has various consequences for mental and physical health for children, and they are not always positive.
The media is without a doubt, a highly significant aspect of contemporary children's lives. It constitutes their most significant leisure-time pursuit by far.
Over the last quarter-century, violence in television programs, video games, the Internet, and other entertainment products for children has gradually increased. After decades of debate, there is now a general consensus that media violence is a risk factor that contributes to the development of aggressive behavior, fears, and anxieties in children.
‘Media’ includes the whole range of modern communication tools: television, the cinema, radio, photography, advertising, newspapers and magazines, recorded music and lyrics, computer and video games, the Internet (blogs, chats, podcasts, Skype, webcam, social networks online, Facebook, YouTube, Second Life), and cell phones. All of these are changing the way children and adults communicate with each other. Young people are largely driving the changes.
✽ Media violence gives children a sense that violence is everywhere. This environment contributes to a greater risk of abuse and violence in our homes, workplaces, and communities.
✽ Children from 8 to 18 years old in the West spend more time (44,5 hours per week – 6,5 hours daily) in front of computers, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives, except sleeping.
✽ Children have a harder time distinguishing between fantasy and reality when they spend too much time in front of a screen.
✽ Children learn by observing and imitating and cannot easily discern between virtual reality and real-life when they are in front of a screen for such a long time.
Mobile phones are the new drug for children, and there have been a few cases where children have been reported to have been admitted to a mental health clinic due to addiction to their phones. The emergence of the mobile Internet, including web browsers, chat services, and emails, allows for new ways to communicate and stay in touch. Almost 95% of mobile phones own mobile phones and 77% own smartphones. Mobile phone addiction not only has physical but also psychological and academic effects on children. Sleep deficits, anxiety, stress, and depression have also been linked to compulsive mobile phone use.
Video and Computer Games
In recent years, video games have been the subject of debate and censorship, due to the description of the graphic violence they present, the sexual themes they involve, 'advergaming' (a form of advertising in games), the apology for consumption and drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse, weighting topics such as addiction, crime, nudity, profanity or thematic content. As a result, various games have been blamed for causing addiction and even violent behavior in children.
✽ Violent video games can cause children to have more aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and decrease empathetic, helpful behavior with peers and others.
✽ In the US, children in grades 4 through 8 preferentially choose video games that award points for violence against others.
✽ High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school, and violent criminal behavior.
Television, movies, and advertising
Online television and movies often show violent or deadly incidents, such as accidents, wars, terrorist attacks, crime, natural disasters, and other events. This may be preceded by a warning stating that the scene may be disturbing to some viewers, especially children, or it may be that a part of the image is blurred or blocked, or the violent parts of a sequence of images or certain parts of the film could be removed.
Over the three years (1995-1997) that a US national television study conducted, violence was found to occupy nearly 10,000 hours of television programming, and 60% of the programs were found to contain some sort of content. type of violence. Even the highest proportion of violence was registered in children's programs. Three main effects of watching television violence have been observed: learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors, desensitization to violence, and increased fear of becoming victims of violence. The typical violent program contains at least 6 violent incidents per hour. This means that, on average, a viewer watching American television will be exposed to at least six different violent interactions between a perpetrator and a victim per hour.
For children under 7, high-risk portrayals of violence that teach aggression are found most often in cartoons. These high-risk portrayals involve:
- A perpetrator who is an attractive role model.
- The violence seems justified.
- The violence that goes unpunished (no remorse, criticism, or penalty).
- Minimal consequences to the victims.
- The violence seems realistic to the viewer.
The average American preschooler who watches mostly cartoons is exposed to over 500 high-risk portrayals of violence each year. Research indicates that the typical preschooler in the United States watches about 2–3 hours of television a day. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA-UK), responsible for ensuring that advertising avoids causing harm or offense, with particular regard to protecting children, hosted a seminar on the issue of violent imagery in advertising, which was followed by a significant increase in complaints to the ASA.
✽ Through cable TV channels, children can access programs of physical and sexual violence that are prohibited for their age.
✽ Commercials for violent media products such as motion pictures and video games contribute to a violent media culture, which increases the likelihood of youngsters' aggressive behavior and desensitizes children to real-world violence.
✽The absence of government regulation of children's television and movies has made parents' jobs more difficult, necessitating more parental monitoring. This situation places additional, unnecessary pressure on parents.
The Internet is a fantastic resource and can be used for research and learning. However, it can also provide quick and easy access to content that is not appropriate for children. With the existence of chat rooms, children can easily be exposed to pedophiles. It is absolutely wrong to think that you cannot find pornography on the Internet without a credit card. Parents and children have free access to these types of images since everything is possible on the Internet, everything is free and available in abundance. The fact that children have great computer skills to use and operate a computer or surf the Internet, must be clearly differentiated from the right to use these devices and media. And parents must play a central role in controlling, supervising, and watching what their child does when they are online.
✽ Every week 20,000 pornographic images of children are published on the Internet.
✽ Browsing the internet, children see horror, torture, and violence every day even more than most parents can imagine.
✽ Websites displaying graphic images of animal mutilations, assaults, and sadistic violence are gaining popularity on the internet, and children are not unaware of these images.
✽ One in five children who regularly go online is approached via chat by strangers to have sex.
✽ The number of Internet pages related to pornography increased from 14 million in 1998 to approximately 260 million in 2003, and 28 million new pornographic websites appeared in just one month.
✽ Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, more fearful of the world around them, and more likely to behave aggressively towards others.
- Talk to your children about violence in the media and encourage them to come to you if they see something online that bothers or disturbs them. Explain the difference between real violence and virtual violence on the internet, video games, movies, and television.
- Set clear guidelines and carefully monitor children's use of the Internet and video games, as well as the TV shows and movies they watch.
- Explain to children the risks associated with using the Internet.
- Restrict access to sites that are not age-appropriate.
- Ask the child to tell you if they receive messages or emails that contain sexually explicit or suggestive content.
- Keep your children's computer in a visible place to easily monitor its use.
- Watch shows with children and use them as "teachable moments" to share information and values with them.
- Educate your family to protect and equip children against the dangers of the media: prepare them to understand the media culture around them.
- Reminds media professionals of their ethical responsibility and the need to respect the standards established by their profession.
- Calls for a reexamination of the government's role in media regulation.
- Provides training opportunities for children to develop critical media literacy and media skills.
- Supports the creation of spaces and opportunities for children to use the media (print, radio, television) to communicate their points of view.
- Get actively involved in the media to ensure its content is relevant and appropriate.
- Meet with local media editors to discuss how they can help promote non-violent behavior towards children.