Introduction Aggression and Violence In a series of experiments Bandura (286, 279, 284, 281) examined the impact of televised violence on preschool children. The results of these experiments revealed that violence on television or in the movies affects children by reducing their inhibitions against violence, by increasing aggressive behavior, and by teaching them how to be aggressive or attack others. The experiments found that witnessing real-life aggressive models, a film of the same models, and aggressive cartoon characters all evoked aggressive behavior in children, especially in the presence of experimentally-induced frustration. In another landmark series of experiments, Berkowitz (295, 301, 296, 297, 299, 298) demonstrated that aggressive and violent tendencies can be stimulated by exposure to filmed and television aggression in the psychological laboratory. The studies also show that justification of aggression in media portrayals lowers viewer inhibitions against aggressive behavior. A series of long-term cross-cultural studies on television violence and aggressive behavior in children was conducted by Lefkowitz et al. (493-495) and by Eron & Heusmann and their associates (374-377). Two large-scale longitudinal studies conducted in the United States, Finland, and Austria confirmed the relation between television violence and aggression. Parents' role and the child's intellectual ability and social relationships were important variables. Support was found for the theory that there Is a sensitive period--probably up to the age of ten -- during which the effect of television can be especially influential on children's behavior. There also have not been many opportunities to examine what happens when a media like television is introduced into a culture. Williams (657) and her collaborators, however, were able to observe children's behavior during free play and to obtain teacher and peer ratings of aggression in three Canadian communities: one that had television continuously, one with limited opportunities to watch television, and one in which television was just beginning to be available. These researchers found that the children in the community that had recently introduced television were both physically and verbally more aggressive two years after the introduction of television than they were before, and more so than the children of the other similar communities who had been exposed to television for some time. Neither age nor amount of viewing or program preference seemed to make much difference. Extensive and varied studies on children and television were carried out over a period of time by Dorothy and Jerome Singer and their associates (600-603). They conducted research on the relationship between television viewing at home and the relationships between viewing and aggression during free-play situations in preschool settings. They found that aggressive and also rapid-cut action by adults on television produces aggressive behavior patterns in children. xvi
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