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The few studies that have examined parents

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Unformatted text preview: lly about realism, justification, and other factors that could influence learning—children are less likely to be influenced badly by media content. Singer and Singer reported some data in support of this view, and some recent research has provided additional support. For example, Nathanson (1999) found that children whose parents discuss the inappropriateness of television violence with them or restrict access to violent television shows report lower aggressive tendencies than children whose parents do not discuss television violence or restrict access to violent television shows. Other findings suggested that either type of parental Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth, & Wartella 56 intervention may decrease the importance children give to violent TV, which in turn may lower children’s aggressive attitudes. The few studies that have examined parents' characteristics as possible moderators have found little evidence that factors such as parents' aggressiveness, coldness, personality, or viewing habits increase or decrease the effects of exposure to violence (Huesmann et al., 2003). How parents control their children's viewing and what parents do when their children view violence appear to be more important in mitigating the effects of observing violence than who the parents are. Summary and a Caveat The studies discussed in this section on moderators suggest potentially productive avenues for studies on preventive intervention. One approach would be based on parental interventions with the child during and after exposure to violence, as well as parental restrictions on access to violent media. Another would be based on altering violent presentations to reduce the characteristics that increase observational learning, desensitization, automatization, and priming effects. However, such intervention studies will require a much more systematic research base to more clearly identify the most important moderating factors. Furthermore, although there is evidence of a number of moderating factors (e.g., realism), there is no evidence that any group is completely protected from the effects of media violence or that any moderator provides complete protection from these effects. For example, even though more realistically presented media violence sometimes produces larger effects than less realistic portrayals, and youth who perceive violent media as more “real” are sometimes more affected than peers who perceive it as less real, studies using portrayals that are clearly not real (e.g., cartoon characters) and participants who know that the stimuli are fictitious (e.g., college students) still yield significant media-violence effects. RESEARCH ON MEDIA USE AND CONTENT In the preceding sections, we have addressed how exposure to violent media may affect Media Violence 57 children, youth, and young adults. The findings raise questions about the content of media violence and its accessibility to and consumption by youth. This section provides an overview of current knowledge about family access to and children’s use of media in general, violent content in the media, and factors that affect children’s preferences for (and potential for exposure to) violence in media. We focus on media in the United States, but similar issues have been raised in many other countries as well. Children’s Access to Media in the Home Three recent nationally representative surveys—two from the Kaiser Family Foundation4 (hereafter referred to as Kaiser; Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, & Vrodie, 1999; Rideout, Vandewater, & Wartella, 2003) and one from the Annenberg Public Policy Center5 (hereafter referred to as APPC; Woodard, 2000)—illustrate just how prevalent media are in the home.6 All three studies reported that virtually all families with children have at least one television set, most have at least one VCR or DVD player, and the majority (between 74 and 78%) now subscribe to cable or satellite TV. In addition, these studies concurred that 7 in 10 families with children have a video-game system, a similar percentage of families own a computer, the majority of American children have a bedroom TV (including 30% of children age 0-3), and the likelihood of having a bedroom TV increases as children get older; less common but also palpably present in 2-17 year old children’s rooms are video-game players (between 33 and 39%), VCRs (30%), and Internet hookups (between 6 and 11%). In recent years, the percentage of families with on-line connections has risen, from 15% in 1996 to 52% in 2000. Family income is positively related to all media ownership except video games. And of course, the rapid growth of video gaming means that even these fairly recent figures underestimate the current level of access and use. Children spend more time consuming entertainment media than engaging in any other activity besides school and sleeping (Roberts et al., 1999; Stanger & Gridina, 1999). They average approximately 4 hr per day in front of a television or computer screen (Roberts et al., 1999; And...
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