New Report Says Mass Media Is Really, Really Evil For Kids

from the get-rid-of-it! dept

Well, here we go again. USA Today has a report on a “review” of “173 of the strongest papers” from the past 28 years, which found that 80% show some sort of link between mass media and something evil happening to kids, whether it involves obesity, smoking, sex, drug and alcohol use, attention problems or poor grades. And, of course, the folks behind the review are claiming this is all very damning and “something must be done” to “protect the children!” Of course, we’ve seen this all before. In almost every case, when you look at the actual details of the study, the link is never quite as strong as it’s made out to be. In many cases, the link may be a correlation, rather than a causal link (i.e., kids who get bad grades may watch more TV, but that doesn’t mean that TV necessarily caused them to get bad grades). Other times, the study’s findings are greatly extrapolated in the writeup — such as the studies that showed that kids get “excited” when they play video games, and extrapolated that to claim kids are more violent because they play games. This isn’t to say that mass media for kids is healthy, but we’ve seen so few studies that actually support a causal link, that it’s difficult to take this sort of fear mongering seriously.

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Comments on “New Report Says Mass Media Is Really, Really Evil For Kids”

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RD says:

Wrong application

Mass media is bad for EVERYBODY. The amount of incorrect, exaggerated, ill-informed pandering and posturing that passes for “news” these days is appalling. Now, if we want to ride the wave of doing something to “protect the children!” on this issue, how about we dont stop there and just clean house on these muckraking morons. Get news back to being NEWS and not extended opinion pieces and alarmist propaganda masquerading as news. Bring back integrity, unbiased reporting, and actual journalism. The news isnt fit for public consumption these days.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: Wrong application

The media are only providing the audience what it can sell most easily. The only way to fight back is not play the game. Cancel your cable/satellite, cancel the newspaper and magazine subscriptions. There are plenty of ways to stay informed and find good entertainment without them, and they often cost less. The mass media can do anything it wants and still be relevant if it has an audience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Er… Isn’t USA Today “mass media?” You know, being the second largest newspaper in the world, and all (according to Wikipedia). Are they going to print a warning on all their papers now, “DANGER! Keep out of reach of children?”

I mean, as a concerned citizen, I would want to be warned not to leave their filthy rag lying around where any children might see it.

Roger (user link) says:

Hence social media

@RD Hear, hear.

Maybe that’s why social media has taken off so readily.

People realize that mass media has been corrupted by special interests (not so much liberals as the corporations in charge of the media) and, driven by a profit imperative, have to cater to the lowest common denominator. Our junk society is sated with junk media.

Hence people put their trust in other sources of information—people they know: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.

Matt says:

Re: Hence social media


Mass media is garbage. Nobody watches it anymore, as even CNN is guilty of trying to be sensational and cover total crap.

Otherwise, why would we read techdirt for example?

The only people who consume mass media nowadays and believe it are the same folks who thought they’d find something different being freepers. Most people have learned much better (why is the baby boomer generation so stupid?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Although, you could hardly say that continuous propaganda encouraging immoral behavior has zero effect.

Is that what you are saying?

If so, why go to school? You won’t learn anything anyway because people are completely incapable of being influenced by outside sources.

Is that what you are saying?

There are certainly negatives associated with the message of much of mass media. The question is whether or not the majority of people are able to filter those messages out or not and by how much.

Some would argue that the increases in divorce, prison population, etc. are at least in part to the change in media messages over the past 40 years, encouraging people to be sexually loose and to be cop-hating criminals.

Bob says:

Sorry Mike

Mike, I normally agree with you, but on this point, we must disagree.

While Mass Media shouldn’t be blamed alone, there is strong data that suggests Children are desensitized to violence when viewing it for long periods.

This isn’t the WHOLE fault of Mass Media, as PARENTS should hold the ultimate responsibility. Parents that think of TV/Movies/Video Games as a “perfect babysitter” should be taken out of the Gene Pool.

The real innocent in this, is of course, the children. They will happily spend time in front of the TV or MOVIES or VIDEO GAMES so their Parents won’t yell at them. They would probably enjoy going for a walk or just talking with their Parents more, but it seems that a LOT of Parents believe that their Children are nothing more then a “downer” and they shouldn’t drag down their life.

So, yes Mass Media can cause issues, but these issues can be averted by Parents that will take a more active role in their Childrens lives.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Sorry Mike

While Mass Media shouldn’t be blamed alone, there is strong data that suggests Children are desensitized to violence when viewing it for long periods.

Desensitized to violence. I love that term. It basically means if you see the same thing over and over again it’s not as shocking. Well, duh.

But what it DOES NOT say is that it makes you think that said violence is acceptable behavior, or that you’re any more likely to do it.

And htat’s the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Obviously media has an effect on you mentally. You listen, read, play, etc and you experience a change of emotion or thought. That’s the reason why you consume the media in the first place. That’s how you are educated, so it can be a great thing.

The link that is not established revolves around violent media turning into actual violence.

It’s practically impossible to demonstrate. There’s too many layers to the human psyche.

But people don’t want layers, they want simple answers that can be stopped. Take away games, guns, movies, music, and so on, and you’ll solve the problem.

qhartman (profile) says:

Can it be indirectly causal?

I don’t think that there’s really anything wrong with mass media in and of itself. I also don’t think it does much harm to kids who consume it. I think the harm comes in the fact that in consuming mass media, the kids aren’t doing _something else_ that would be of benefit. Rather than reading and strengthening their imagination, they passively view images created for them. Rather than running around and climbing trees, they watch shows about other kids building a treehouse. Rather than tinkering with something, they watch a show that explains how something works. I could go on, but the bottom line, to me, is not that consumption mass media is itself harmful, but that it replaces activities which are beneficial. The net result of that is kids are slower, fatter, and less well adjusted socially.

John (profile) says:

Mass media bad for everyone

Think about it for a minute: what is the real business of mass media? Is it to deliver hard-hitting journalism, investigating the latest stories? Or is it to get as many viewers or readers as possible?

Sorry, but for the most part, mass media’s main business is to get ratings. Why does the six o’clock news start with murders and robberies? Because it gets ratings.

Why have news-shows like “20/20” and “Dateline” basically switched their format from investigative journalism to celebrity puff-pieces, such as interviewing Brad Pitt about his latest movie?
They get better ratings when they run puff-pieces, so over time, why bother with the hard-hitting stuff? Just run another celeb interview and get more viewers.

bigjuliefromchicago says:

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I suggest a survey of the freshman classes of the Ivy League schools, plus Stanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon etc. You pick your favorite. A bunch of 18 year olds – all whom, I guarantee, watched plenty of TV & movies, played plenty of games. All of whom, I guarantee, are smarter and more capable than the dunces at USA Today.
Those kids, AND THEIR PARENTS, did something else right.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: Yeah, yeah, yeah

I would hardly be willing to bet the freshman class at the Ivy League schools are paragons of intelligence and hard work.

Graduates are a little more likely, but a college education ain’t what it used to be a couple generations ago. I’m sure there are plenty of people being churned out by even Yale and Harvard who aren’t particularly competent at anything.

bigjuliefromchicago says:

Re: Re: Yeah, yeah, yeah

“I would hardly be willing to bet the freshman class at the Ivy League schools are paragons of intelligence and hard work.”

They are. By definition. Nobody slides into these schools anymore the way W did back in the 60’s.

But the point of the story was corrosion of kids by the mass media. My point is there are thousands who managed to become highly literate and informed while consuming the very same stuff.

gene_cavanaugh (user link) says:

Mass Media And Problem Children

I will continue to say (perhaps the lone voice, but …) that we gain nothing by being extremist on this!
The people who advocate denying Constitutional Rights to “protect the children” may get votes from “morons in a hurry”, but they harm everyone!
The people who bury their heads in the sand and say there is no problem also harm everyone!
PEOPLE!!! There is a middle ground! Sure, being in the center exposes you to attacks from both extremes, but it is the RIGHT THING TO DO!

dic (user link) says:

love of kids

all you people should get a life because your comments are as retarted and stuped as you are. What happend did you people get beet up alot as kids and that is why you are such big idiots or what.or did momy and daddy give you tomuch nipple as babies or perhaps not enough. you people are what ruins childrens lives you and your liberal touchy feeley sucky on momas tities forever bull shit. I think you guys are what makes kids violent to much wares momma I need milk give me some nip and not in a good way give me some nip ether. so maybe when you grow and get some education I dont think that sume of you should have kids.

A tisket a tasket a condome or a casket

C. C. says:

Well, if we are waiting for a ‘causal’ link, there is no such thing in social sciences. We cannot say that one thing ’causes’ another, only that it is correlated. Just as when using the scientific method, one cannot ‘prove’ anything. However, until it is ‘disproven’ it is seen as fairly reliable. When one considers the influence of nearly anything on the developing brain, it is only common sense that media has an influence.

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