The Entertainment Industry's Effect on Children
Almost all young children in the United States are exposed, on a daily basis, to entertainment and education delivered through other media besides print and television. Films (in theaters and on cassette or DVD), radio, sound recordings on compact disc and audiocassette, computer games, plus access to the Internet are the main sources.
The entire entertainment industry now has a tremendous influence on American society. Whereas a few movie stars, musicians, and sports figures were the entertainment models for generations during the 20th century, today, the visual and auditory stimuli of the new media bombard most homes and communities. Some of this exposure is educational, positive, and directed at an appropriate level for young children. A considerable amount of current fare, however, is violent in nature, is provocative, and is presented in ways unsuitable for children’s level of maturity (DeGaetano, 2005; Levin, 2005). With the rapid expansion of electronic transmission devices, young people are exposed more than ever to both good and bad influences.
Producers and advertisers expand successful films and television shows by flooding sales counters with associated toys, clothing, and DVDs. Similar marketing comes from developers of video and computer games. These games influence individuals’ values, compete for children’s attention, and certainly reduce the amount of reflection and interaction time children have with both adults and peers (Singer & Singer, 2001). Although some maintain that such games are opportunities for children to “let off steam,” others insist that there are better ways of achieving this goal.
In 2002, the U.S. Department of Commerce (2004) found that 74% of married couples with children had a home computer and that 87% of those maintained Internet access. In addition, over 90% of American elementary schools have Internet access. Meaning that the wonders and dangers of global electronic communication are available to a large majority of American children.
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