SHEET 15 - CHILDREN AND
VIOLENCE IN THE MEDIA
WHAT IMPACT DOES VIOLENCE
in the media have on children and you? What can we do about
it? How do we balance the tension between freedom of expression and the need to protect children?
UNESCO’S GLOBAL MEDIA VIOLENCE SURVEY
range of media to which children
have access has grown rapidly in this
generation. Take the books, newspapers, magazines, films, radio, tapes, records, and
broadcast television familiar to children of the previous generation, then add dozens of
cable t.v. channels, thousands of videos and video games, and millions of Internet
sites. The result is a dense electronic bath in which children are immersed daily. This is
true not only in the industrialized countries but increasingly in all societies of the world.
What is the impact of this new environment on children, and what is the particular effect
of images of violence in the media? To address this question, in i996 and i997 UNESCO
conducted the Global Media Violence Survey. More than 5,000 12-year-old students
countries participated, representing all regions of the world and a broad variety of
cultural, social, and economic conditions, from countries like Canada andjapan to high-
crime neighbourhoods in Brazil and war-ravaged countries like Angola and
Tajikistan. Under the supervision of Drjo Groebel of Utrecht University, the study aimed
to understand the role of media in the lives of children and the relationship between
media violence and aggressive behaviour among children in different settings.
The study found that 93% of students who live in electrified urban or rural areas have
regular access to television and watch it for an average of three hours a day. This is at
least So% more than the time spent on any other out-of-school activity, including
homework, being with friends, or reading. There is little doubt that television is the most
important medium in the lives of children almost everywhere in the world.
Television, videos, and video games expose children to high levels of violent images on