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Unformatted text preview: en Now, 2001). Studies of fourth- through eighth-grade children found that
more than half stated preferences for games in which the main action is predominantly violent
(Buchman & Funk, 1996; Funk, 1993). In surveys of children and their parents, about two thirds of
children named violent games as their favorites; only about one third of parents were able to
correctly name their child's favorite game, and 70% of the time that parents were incorrect, children
described their favorite game as violent (Funk, Flores, Buchman, & Germann, 1999). Similar
results have been reported in Japan. Shibuya and Sakamoto (2003) reported that 85% of the most
popular video games of Japanese fifth graders contained violent content.
Factors Affecting Children's Exposure to Violent Content
By the time a typical child finishes elementary school, he or she will have seen approximately
8,000 murders and more than 100,000 other acts of violence on TV (Huston et al., 1992). The rate
of violence per minute is much higher in video games than in most violent TV programs or movies,
but data on the number of violent acts witnessed (or committed) in video games are not available.
Conventional wisdom holds that children enjoy violence in the media, and Nielsen data do
show that the most frequently watched children’s programs are filled with conflict (Jordan, 1996).
However, Cantor (1998) pointed out that this trend may be the result of what is made available
during times when children are likely to be in the audience (e.g., Saturday morning); children’s
favorite programs are prime-time sitcoms depicting family interactions. There is little systematic research (outside of the industry) that examines children’s tastes for different genres. That boys are
more likely than girls to be attracted to and enjoy violent media is fairly well established in studies Media Violence 61 on television (Cantor & Nathanson, 1997; Comstock, 1995; Huston & Wright, 1997; Valkenburg &
Janssen, 1999) and appears to be the case with computer-video games (Barnett et al., 1997; Gentile
& Anderson, 2003; Griffiths, 1997). However, males may be more strongly attracted to violent
entertainment media than are females because media tend to cater to male audiences and use males
as lead character (e.g., X-Men, Batman, Spiderman, Superman).
Males and females also differ in their perceptions of and preferences for different types of
violence. For example, Funk and Buchman (1996) found no gender difference in overall
preference for violent video games, but girls preferred fantasy violence, whereas boys preferred
human violence. Cantor (1998) reported that males were more attracted to “justice restoring”
violent programming (such as that found in Batman) than females, but were equally attracted to
A few studies have examined the impact of the family’s SES on children’s attraction to
violence; interpretation of the findings of these studies is complicated by the fact that lower-SES
children tend to consume more media overall. Van der Voort (1986) found that children from
lower-SES homes engaged in higher levels of viewing than children from more affluent families,
but also showed more enjoyment and approval of the violence and identified more strongly with the
characters. Comstock (1995; Comstock & Paik, 1991) and Huston and Wright (1997) found a
relationship between lower income levels and a greater preference for violence, particularly among
boys. Evidence on ethnic differences in children’s preferences remains unconvincing, because
many studies have failed to appropriately control for SES. For both boys and girls, a lower selfevaluation of behavior (e.g., lower ratings of their own ability to get along well with others) is
linked to a higher preference for violent games (J.B. Funk, Buchman, & Germann, 2000). Finally,
perhaps because lower-IQ children watch more television on the average than higher-IQ children
do, they also watch more violent television on the average (Eron et al., 1972; Huesmann, et al.,
2003). Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 62 RESEARCH ON INTERVENTIONS
Recent efforts to reduce the harmful effects of media violence on youth have taken various
forms, including (a) attempting to reduce the amount of media violence and its accessibility to
children (e.g., calls for media self-regulation and violence ratings), (b) encouraging and facilitating
parental monitoring of children’s media access (e.g., V-chip legislation), (c) educating parents and
children about the potential dangers of media violence (e.g., media and empathy educational
programs), and (d) changing children's thinking to reduce the chance that they will imitate the
violence they see. Only a few of these approaches have received scientific study. The lack of
formal research on interventions related to media violence is somewhat surprising, considering that
the knowledge base from which experimental interventions could be developed is large.
Historically, much more attention has been paid to establishing the existence of a relationship
between media violence and behavior, determining its theoretical basis, and discovering what
moderates the effect than has bee...
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2013 for the course ELECTRICAL 205 taught by Professor Tom during the Spring '13 term at American University in Cairo.
- Spring '13
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