The importance of the media – Article 17 – (2-15)
The emergence of new forms of media has drastically changed children’s perception of the world around them.
According to Neil Postman (American Professor, deceased 2003), media such as the television as well as the internet have effectively blurred the boundaries according to which children and adults have lived in separate universes – since the Rennaissance !
By means of media imagery, content which notions of propriety and other prohibitions have attempted to hide from children for several centuries is made immediately accesible. From the beginning of their transmission, parents and teachers everywhere have been in competition with the media for children’s attention. The authority of parents and teachers indeed seems rather feeble in view of these ubiquitous screens that modify children’s behavior and lead certain children to believe that learning, and even books are no longer necessary.
Even if the child from then on enjoyed practically free access to an adult world, society continues to maintain a discourse according to which children are compared with vulnerable and innocent beings. As such, a rather filmsy and paradoxal boundary continues to separates the adult and the child.
Society attempts, rather struggles, to protect the latter from the world of the former. One by one, society destroys the fantasies associated with childhood, but at the same time, given a prevailing sense of guilt, wants to emphasize the fundamental needs of children. According to this thinking, innocence, dreams and vulnerability must – should - be involiable characteristics of childhood.
Quite a problematic riddle…
Notably, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child was revised to officially endorse the respect due of adults to children.
What is the relationship between children and the media, notably television ?
Little by little, each child learns to differentiate an internal and external world. As he or she begins to master language, a child becomes capable of telling stories, and is able to use their senses to comprehend reality. Media such as television or the internet submerge the child in a virtual world – a representation of the world.
If we think like Professor Rufo, television and by analogy, the internet, today allow children access to knowledge that his or her elders only enjoyed much later. Television or the internet can thus prove cultural resources – when explained and presented with the assistance of an adult’s interpretation.
Adults, specifically parents, must elect specific programs that can be watched by the entire family. As child psychatrist S. Clerget indicated, it is important to privilege television that incites unity, as opposed to programming and habits which encourage individualism.
Indeed, for media sources to participate in the education of our children, their basic education is a necessary prerequisite. Childen must learn to exercise a prudent use of various media, and be assisted to develop a spirit of healthy critique in order to sort through the flood of information to which they are subjected.
Why is education inextricably linked to the dissemination of information ?
The child constructs his world and his self – he needs time to understand and imagine, to interpret what he sees around him. At around 12 years of age, he will watch the most television as he discovers the universe and develops a critical need of access to the exterior world. He or she will ask questions, just as his or thinking becomes analytical. The twelve year old begins to judge, to compare. It is at this age that children will assimilate what the television or internet screen presents to him with the greatest level of intensity.
A teenager in the west watches an average of 6 hours of television per day. Beginning at primary education age, nearly 2 out of 5 children have a television in their bedroom. It is thus important to respond to this need for knowledge, this thirst to discover the world – and be aware of what your child is watching.
The impact of televised violence on a child varies not only with respect to his or her age, personality and family or social context, but also with respect to the nature and mode of presentation of the images. All realistic representations of violence impart a profound impact. Crime news and war scenes that may arise during the course of a news broadcast are particularly traumatic for children. Lacking references or explanations, children risk receiving such information as a shock ; they cannot reference the explanations, or commentary, of the reporter (which is not adapted to children) as adults can do.
Nonetheless, studies continue to state that there is no direct relationship between violent television (or internet) scenes and children’s behavior. The majority of children do not seem to be incited to violence from watching television. However, the depiction of violent, anti-social, disrespectful, destructive or self-destructive behavior does not constitute education. On the contrary, the above engenders intolerance and stigmatization.
Increasing number of specialists are left to study the all too numerous cases of massacres perpetrated by adolescents and young adults – trying to decrypt their interior motives and the origin of their violence. They are puzzled by the apparent absence of perceived limits, and context.
The media presents nothing short of a vision of the world, in addition to transmitting information and culture. The extensive presence thereof in the lives of the very youngest members of our society allows young people to effectively create their own universe by grouping around various analogous references. As such, an interrogation of the use of these images not only by these youths – but at the level of the family, or society, is crucial.
The media has a responsibility with respect to the content that they choose to disseminate, just as each family has a responsibility- with resepct to the use thereof, and the creation of a dialogue with respect to propagated imagery and content.
It is not acceptable to allow a child to look at whatever, without worrying about the impact that this will have on him or her. A simple, vigilant reflection by the adult accompanying a young viewer will allow that child to avoid future difficulties. For example, the following questions are important to ask :
« What am I watching ? What do I think about it ? What do I do about it ? ».
For the text of the Convention, click here
To watch the animated cartoon about the medias, click here
For the quiz, click here
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