A few days ago, the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) published
the results of its research Kids' Take on Media. The survey
covered 5,756 students in Grades three to 10. The research found
that approximately 75 per cent of children and adolescents chose
their favourite television programmes because of two attributes:
"exciting" and "funny". The "violent" component was the least favoured
of all, ranking at the bottom of the list of 10 possible attributes
presented to children in the survey. When asked why they disliked
certain video games, "too boring" and "not enough action" were cited
as the top two reasons.
The survey also found that frequent news watchers feel more worried
about the world but also more motivated to do something about it.
Younger children are the ones most frightened by the news, feeling
their personal safety is at risk. Girls are more likely to be sensitive
to the harmful effects of media violence; 60 per cent of younger
boys play video and computer games daily; and 75 per cent of kids
in Grades 7-10 watch restricted movies at home. More than half the
students surveyed in Grades 7 to 10 said they had witnessed real
acts of violence that mimicked computer games, videos or television
48 per cent of Canadian kids aged 8-15 have their own TV and 35
per cent have their own VCR. CTF president Terry Price was quoted
in an official release saying, "We chose the timing to highlight
the significant influence that media has in the lives of children
and adolescents, and our role as parents and educators in making
the most of that connection."
The Kids' Take on Media study shows that children and adolescents
whose parents supervise their TV viewing and who discuss violence,
racism and sexism in the media, are more likely to be aware of the
negative impact of media violence. Many children, however, are on
Nearly half the students surveyed say they receive no parental
guidance on which television programmes they can watch. Two-thirds
report that no one says which video or computer games they can play,
or for how long. These children are more likely to regard media
violence as benign.
Young people themselves recognise the need for supervision. Their
top-rated TV show The Simpsons (airs in India on Star World)
is one they believe younger children should not be watching. They
also recognise the power of interactivity in video games, saying
that there should be tighter age restrictions on mature-rated video
and computer games than on R-rated films.
Price added, "Although media education is mandated in all provinces
and territories there is little professional learning development
for teachers attached to this new discipline. There are many excellent
resources currently available to parents and teachers, to help young
people to think critically about what they are watching or interacting
with on TV and computer screens. Our survey shows that the older
children get, the more they themselves see the value of studying
media in school."