Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Rapeutationists and DIRA zombies are preconditioned for violent behavior by cinema and video game violence.

Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

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The UNESCO Global Study on Media Violence: Report Presented to the Director General of UNESCO [1]



This report presents the results of the UNESCO global study on media violence which was conducted between 1996 and 1997 as a joint research project by the World Organization of the Scout Movement and Utrecht University under the scientific supervision of Prof. Dr. Jo Groebel. It is the largest ever intercultural study on the role of media violence for children with a total of more than 5,000 pupils from 23 different countries all over the world participating.

The study is also unique in several other respects. For the first time, International crisis regions (war zones and high crime areas alike) were part of the research sample. Several of the countries which covered the whole global range of social and technological development had never before participated in an empirical social science study on media.

The methodology used was also unique in so far as all participating 12-year old children answered exactly the same standardized 60-items questionnaire which was translated into the different languages like, for example, Japanese, English, Russian, French, Arabian, etc. The content of the questions was not culture-bound, as otherwise a direct comparison of the data would have been impossible. The children reported their media behaviour, their habits, preferences, and social environment. By January 1998, app. 350,000 individual data had been collected and processed in the context of the study.

The following countries participated in the core study: Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, Fiji, Germany, India, Japan, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Tadjikistan, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine. These countries represent the broad spectrum of human and technological development, and major world cultures, and thus reflect a representative range of countries as covered in the 1997 UNDP Human Development Report. In a next stage, additional countries will be part of an extension of the research program with countries like the United States, Russia, Finland, Poland, etc.

In each country, the data were collected in metropolitan and rural areas, in high-and low-aggression environments, from boys and girls, and from different types of schools. The only groups of children who could not be considered in the study were those who were not attending any school or living in extremely remote areas. However, even children who lived in refugee camps have been participating. The logistics and distribution of the questionnaires among average children were organized by members of the Scout Movement; the scientific supervision and analysis was conducted at Utrecht University.

Five major issues were addressed:

• Which role do the media, and in particular TV, play in the lives of children on a global level?
• Why are children fascinated by media violence?
• What is the relationship between media violence and aggressive behaviour among children?
• Are there cultural as well as gender differences in the media impact on aggression?
• How do violent environments (war/crime) on the one hand and the state of technological development on the other influence the coping with aggressive media content?

The results demonstrate:

93% of the children in this study have access to a TV-set. The range is 99% for the North-Western hemisphere to 83% for Africa with Asia and Latin-America in between. In the areas surveyed, the screen has practically become a universal medium. For schoolchildren, it is the most powerful source of information and entertainment. Even radio and books do not have the same global distribution.

The world's children spend an average of 3 hours daily in front of the screen with of course a broad International spectrum of individual viewing behaviour. That is at least 50% more time spent with this medium than with any other out-of-school activity including home-work, being with family or friends, or reading.
Thus, TV has become a major socialization factor and dominates the life of children in urban and electrified rural areas around the globe.

In particular boys are fascinated by aggressive media heroes. Some of these, like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator, have become global icons; 88% of the world's children know him. 51% of the children from high-aggression environments (war; crime) would like to be like him as compared to 37% in the low-aggression neighbourhoods. Clearly, children need and use media heroes as role models to cope with difficult situations. And these are plentiful for the children of the world.

A remarkable large number live in a problematic emotional state. Nearly half of the children report that they are anxious most of the time or often; 9% had to flee their homesite at least once in their life; 47% report that they would like to live in another country. In the high-aggression areas, 16% of the children report that most people in their neighbourhood die because they are killed by others. Here, 7.5% of the children have already themselves used a weapon against someone.

In this situation, media heroes are used for escapism and compensation of the children's actual problems. For boys, it is primarily aggressive role models (30% name an action hero), for girls, pop stars and musicians. There are regional differences for the favourite heroes: Asia has the highest ranking for action heroes (34%), Africa the lowest (18%), with Europe and the Americas in between (25% each).

The children's world views are obviously influenced by actual as well as media experiences. Nearly one third of the aggression-environment group believe that most people in the world are evil as compared to a fifth in the low aggression group. A remarkable number of children from both groups report a strong overlap in what they perceive as reality and what they see on the screen (about 44%). Many children are surrounded by an environment where "real" and media experiences both support the view that violence is natural.

The impact of media violence can primarily be explained through the fact that aggressive behaviour is rewarded. 47% of those children who prefer aggressive media content would also like to be involved in a risky situation (as compared to 19% with another media preference). This holds again in particular for boys. In addition, nations with a high level of technological development reinforce the risk-seeking tendency. The broad spectrum of different available audio-visual communication means have increased the desire to permanently satisfy physiological stimulus needs which are triggered through aggressive media content.

All in all, one can conclude:

• Media violence is universal. It is primarily presented in a rewarding context.
• Depending on the personality characteristics of the children, and depending on their everyday-life experiences, media violence satisfies different needs: It "compensates" one's own frustrations and deficits in problem areas. It offers "thrills" for children in less problematic environments. For boys it creates a frame of reference for "attractive role models".
• There are many cultural differences, and yet, the basic patterns of the media violence implications are similar around the world.
• Individual movies are not the problem. However, the extent and omnipresence of media violence (with an average of 5 to 10 aggressive acts per TV-program hour in many countries) contribute to the development of a global aggressive culture.
• The "normality" and the "reward characteristics" of aggression are more systematically promoted than non-aggressive ways of coping with one's life. Therefore, the risk of media violence prevails on a global level.

What can be done in this situation?

Violence has always been an element of fiction and news reporting. It can not be excluded from any media coverage. However, its extent, extremeness, and reward characteristics are the problem. Therefore, three major strategies should be considered on an International level:

• Public debate and "common ground" talks between the five Ps: Politicians, Producers, Pedagogy, Parents, and the future Prosumers (active consumers).
• The development of codes of conduct and self-control among media professionals.
• The establishment of media education to create competent and critical media users.

With communication systems like the Internet, the media will be even more omnipresent, universal, and global. The media bear "risks", as this study has demonstrated. But they also offer many new prosocial possibilities. As a consequence, the new digital environment demands similar attention as culture and education in the traditional world.

The problem

Children and adolescents have always been interested in arousing and often even violent stories and fairy-tales. With the occurrence of mass media, film and in particular television, however, the quantity of aggressive content daily consumed by these age groups has dramatically increased. As real violence, especially among the youth, at the same time is still growing, it seems plausible to correlate the two, media violence and aggressive behaviour. With more recent media developments, video recorders, computer games and the Internet one can see a further increase of extremely violent images which obviously find much attention. Videos present realistic torture scenes and even real murder, computer games enable the user to actively simulate the mutilation of "enemies", and the Internet has -- apart from its prosocial possibilities -- become a platform for child pornography, violent cults, and terrorist guidelines. Even with these phenomena, however, it is crucial to realize, that still the primary causes for aggressive behaviour will most probably be found in the family environment, the peer groups, and in particular the social and economic conditions children are raised in (Groebel & Hinde, 1991).

And yet, media play a major role in the development of cultural orientations, world views and beliefs, as well as in the global distribution of values and (often stereotyped) images. They are not only mirrors of cultural trends but can also channel them, and are themselves major constituents of society. Sometimes they are even direct means of inter-group violence and war propaganda. All in all, it is important to identify their contribution to the propagation of violence, if one considers possibilities of prevention. Thousands of studies have demonstrated the risk of media violence to stimulate aggression. Until now, however, no single study dealt with the problem on a global scale. In this situation UNESCO decided to initiate a project which should analyse the International importance of the issue. In particular, possible cultural differences, as well as the influence of different aggressive experiences in the actual environment (war and crime) and the different media available for the children were to be identified. To that end, an intercultural questionnaire study was developed. About 5,000 12-year old boys and girls from 23 different countries around the world have participated in the project. This means that this study is the biggest of its kind ever conducted with respect to the number of subjects and countries included. For at least half of the countries involved in this research study, it was the first time that a research of this type was undertaken.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement accepted overall responsibility for the field work of the study, including the organization of International logistics, training of people responsible, questionnaire distribution, and data collecting procedure. The scientific supervision, data processing, and integration of the study was done by Prof. Dr. Jo Groebel of Utrecht University. Statistics were supplied by Willem van Leerdam of Tangram. The University of Utrecht offered overhead support through its stimulation fund. Jean Cassaigneau and Mateo Jover of the World Scout Bureau supervised most of the logistics and contributed to the methodology. We thank all the national contributors and supporters of the study, in particular the National Scout Organizations involved, their officials and leaders, teachers and parents, and not least, the thousands of students who participated in the project all over the world.

The media

With the technical means of automatization and, more recently of digitalization, any media content has potentially become global. Not only do individual news reach nearly any part of the world, also mass entertainment has become an International enterprise. E.g., American or Indian movies can be watched in most world regions. Much of what is presented contains violence. In high literature art as well as in popular culture it has always been a major topic of human communication. Whether it is the Gilgamesh, a Shakespearean drama, the Shuihu zhuan of Luo Guanzhong, Kurosawa's Ran, stories of Wole Soyinka, or ordinary detective series, man seemed always to be fascinated by aggression. This fascination does not necessarily mean that destructive behaviour is innate; however, it draws attention as it is one of the phenomena of human life which cannot be immediately explained and yet demands consideration of how to cope with it if it occurs. Nearly all studies around the world show that men are much more attracted to violence than women. One can assume that, in a mixture of biological predispositions and gender role socializations, men often experience aggression as rewarding. It fits with their role in society but may once also have served the motivation to seek adventure when exploring new territory or protecting the family and the group. Without an internal (physiological thrill seeking) and an external (status and mating) reward mechanism men may rather have fled leaving theirs unprotected. But apart from "functional" aggression humankind has developed "destructive" aggression, mass-murder, hedonistic torture, humiliation, which cannot be explained in terms of survival. It is often these, which are widely distributed in the media.

The media themselves differ in their impact. Audio-visual media in particular are more graphic in their depiction of violence than books or newspapers; they leave less freedom in the individual images which the viewers associate with the stories. As the media become ever more perfect with the introduction of three dimensions (virtual reality) and interactivity (computer games and multimedia) and as they are always accessible and universal (video and Internet) the representation of violence "merges" increasingly with reality.

Another crucial distinction is that between "context-rich" and "context-free" depiction of violence. Novels or sophisticated movies usually offer a story around the occurrence of violence: What is its background, what are its consequences? Violence as a pure entertainment product, however, often lacks any embedding in a context which is more than a clicheed image of good and bad. The final difference between the individual media forms has to do with their distribution. A theatre play or a novel are nearly always singular events, the modern mass media, however, create a time- and space-omnipresence.

Even here, a distinction between problematic and non-problematic forms of media violence has to be made. A news program or a TV documentary which present the cruelty of war and the suffering of its victims in a non-voyeuristic way are part of objective investigation or may even serve conflict-reduction purposes. Hate campaigns, on the other hand, or the glorification of violence stress the" reward" characteristics of extreme aggression. In general, one can roughly distinguish between three different modes of media content: purely investigative (typically news), message oriented (campaigns, advertisement), and entertainment (movies, shows). For any of these, one can distinguish between problematic and non-problematic forms:


Although often these criteria may not be easy to determine, there are clear examples for each of the different forms: Reality TV or paparazzi activities may have to do with the truth but they also, in the extreme, influence this very truth through their own behaviour -- see the discussion surrounding Princess Diana's death. Through the informal communication patterns on the Internet also rumours have become part of "serious" news-reporting, as the discussion around the American president in January 1998 has shown. Whether true or not, deviant groups and cults can influence the global information streams more efficiently than ever before. The cases of Serbia and Rwanda on the other hand has demonstrated the role which "traditional" mass propaganda through the radio still can play in genocide. Many incidents around the world finally indicate that children often lack the capacity to distinguish between reality and fiction and take for granted what they see in entertainment films stimulating their own aggression. If they are permanently exposed to messages which promote that violence is fun or is adequate to solve problems and gain status, then the risk that they learn respective attitudes and behaviour patterns is very high.

Theories and research studies

General theoretical background

Many scientific theories and studies have dealt with the problem of media violence since the beginning of the 20th century. Most of them originate in North-America, Australia/New Zealand or Western-Europe. But increasingly, Asia, Latin-America and Africa are contributing to the scientific debate. The most influential studies are briefly presented. They cover a broad range of different paradigms: cultural studies, content analyses of media programs, behavioural research. However, the terms aggression and violence are exclusively defined here in terms of behaviour which leads to harm of another person. For phenomena, where activity and creativity have positive consequences for those involved, other terms are used. Recently, scientists have overcome their traditional dissent and have come to some common conclusions. They assume a media effects risk which depends on the message content, the characteristics of the media user, and his family, as well as his social and cultural environment. All in all, children are more at risk to be immediately influenced than adults. But certain effects, like habituation, also hold for older age groups. While short-term effects may be described in terms of simple causal relationships, the long-term impact is more adequately described as an interactive process which involves many different factors and conditions. Yet, as the commercial and the political world strongly rely on the influence of images and messages (as seen in the billion dollar turnover of the advertising industry or the important role of media in politics), it seems naive to exclude media violence from any effects probability.

The most influential theory on this matter is probably the social learning approach by Albert Bandura and his colleagues. As much of what people learn happens through observation in their immediate environment it can be concluded that similar processes work through the media. Many studies have demonstrated that children especially either directly imitate what they see on the screen or they integrate the observed behaviour patterns into their own repertoire. An extension of this theory considers the role of cognitions. If I see that a certain behaviour, e.g., an aggressive one, is successful, I believe that the same is true for my own life. Groebel & Gleich (1993) and Donnerstein (National Television Violence Study, 1997) both show in European and US-American studies that nearly 75% of the aggressive acts depicted on the screen remain without any negative consequences for the "aggressor" in the movie or are even rewarded.

The so-called script theory, among others, propagated by Rowell Huesmann and Leonard Eron, assumes the development of complex world views ("scripts") through media influence. If I over-estimate the probability of violence in real life (e.g., through its frequency on the TV-screen), I develop a belief-system where violence is a normal and adequate part of modern society.

The role of the personal state of the viewer is stressed in the frustration-aggression- hypothesis (see Leonard Berkowitz). Viewers who have been frustrated in their actual environment, e.g., through having been punished, insulted, or physically deprived, "read" the media violence as a signal to channel their frustration into aggression. This theory would explain why in particular children in social problem areas are open to media-aggression effects.

The contrary tendency has been assumed in the catharsis-theory, and later the inhibition-theory by Seymour Feshbach. As in the Greek tragedy, aggressive moods would be reduced through the observation of similar states with others (substitute coping). Inhibition would occur when the stimulation of own aggressive tendencies would lead to (learned) fear of punishment and thus contribute to its reduction. While both approaches may still be valid under certain circumstances, they have not been confirmed in the majority of studies, and their original author, Feshbach, now also assumes a negative effects risk.

A lot of the fascination of media violence has to do with physiological arousal. The action scenes, which are usually part of media violence, grab the viewer's attention and create an at least slight "kick", more probably among males. At the same time, people tend to react more aggressively in a state of arousal. This would again explain why arousing TV scenes would lead to higher aggression among frustrated/angered viewers, as Dolf Zillmann explains in his excitation-transfer theory. In this context it is not the content but the formal features, sound and visual effects that would be responsible for the result.

Among others, Edward Donnerstein, Neil Malamuth, and Donald Linz have investigated the effect of long-term exposition to extremely violent images. Men in particular get used to frequent bloody scenes; their empathy towards aggression victims is reduced.

The impact of media violence on anxiety has also been analyzed. George Gerbner and Jo Groebel both have demonstrated in longitudinal studies that the frequent depiction of the world as threatening and dangerous leads to more fearsome and cautious attitudes towards the actual environment. As soon as people are already afraid or lack contrary experiences they develop an anxious world view and have difficulties in distinguishing between reality-and-fiction.

Cultural studies have discussed the role of the cultural construction of meaning. The decoding and interpretation of an image depends on traditions and conventions. This could explain why an aggressive picture may be "read" differently, e.g., in Singapore than in Switzerland, or even within a national culture by different groups. These cultural differences have definitely to be taken into account. Yet, the question is, whether certain images can also immediately create emotional reactions on a fundamental (not culture-bound) level and to what extent the International mass media have developed a more homogeneous (culture-overspanning) visual language.

Increasingly, theories from a non-Anglosaxon background have offered important contributions to the discussion. In Paris, a UNESCO-sponsored congress was held in 1997 chaired by E. Auclaire where many of these approaches, including Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, were presented. This event continued a series of meetings which had been started in Lund in 1995, where the global platform on media violence had led to the creation of the UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children and Violence on the Screen, with headquarters in Goteborg (and probably Utrecht; see the reports of Nils Gunnar Nilsson).

The compass theory

As basis for the UNESCO study, Jo Groebel has formulated the compass theory. Depending on already existing experiences, social control, and the cultural environment, media content offers an orientation, a frame of reference which determines the direction of one's own behaviour. Viewers do not necessarily adapt simultaneously what they have observed, but they measure their own behaviour in terms of distance to the perceived media models. If extreme cruelty is "common", "just" kicking the other seems to be innocent by comparison if the cultural environment has not established a working alternative frame of reference (e.g., social control; values).

In general, the impact of media violence depends on several conditions: media content -- roughly 10 acts of violence per hour in the average programming (see the recent US National Television Violence Study, 1997); media frequency; culture and actual situation; and the characteristics of the viewer and his family surrounding. Yet, as the media now are a mass phenomenon, the probability of a problematic combination of these conditions is high. This is demonstrated in many studies. Based on scientific evidence, one can conclude: The risk of media violence prevails.

Method and design of the UNESCO study

A study which is to be conducted in different countries and cultures faces several problems: The logistics are difficult; many countries do not have scientific faculties that could run the study there; the cultures are so different that not only language problems but also differences in the social meaning of terms appear. Therefore the authors of this project chose a standardized procedure.

All logistics were centrally organized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement from their Geneva headquarters. The organization used their International network of National Scout Organizations to conduct the study in the respective countries. To that end, two officers of the Scout Movement travelled to the countries in the sample (see below) and instructed their local representatives in how to apply the procedure. In addition, the World Scout Organization took care of the translations into the different National languages and the necessary pretests in each country. The advantage of the Scout Movement, apart from its logistics, is its strict political and ideological independence. Thus, no intended or unintended interference based on a certain belief system was to be expected.

Although language and meaning are always culture-bound we chose a questionnaire-procedure to analyze the relationship between media preferences and aggression. By applying exactly the same questions all over the world a maximum comparison was possible. As we limited the items to descriptive, preference and behavioural data, excluding evaluations and performance measures, we assume a relatively culture-independent measurement. Of course, systematic differences in preferences are indicators of cultural specifics. That was exactly what we wanted to measure. The reliability and the validity of the data are not reduced through that approach. The regional pre-tests demonstrated that all children could comprehend the questionnaire which they had to fill in during classes and that all items were meaningful to them. Of course, without financial and time constraints, an even better pre-testing would have been possible. However, the a posteriori analyses confirmed the quality of the work.

The questionnaire itself consisted of a mixture of text-questions with mostly multiple-choice answers and very simple (again, culture-free) sketches which depicted a number of social situations. The children then had to choose between several options, e.g., an aggressive or a peaceful solution to a depicted conflict. Several factors were investigated: the children's demographics, their social and family situation, media use and preferences, level of aggression in their environment, their own aggressive tendencies, level of anxiety, and their perception of values and orientations. All in all, about 60 different variables were included.

The sample for the study consisted of an original core group of 23 different countries around the world, where, depending on country-size, between 150 and 600 12-year old school children (boys and girls) were to be investigated respectively. The countries were selected to represent different regions and social development structures, cultures, and economic and social circumstances. After finishing the remaining core data, roughly 5,000 International 12-year-olds contributed to the project. The participating countries are: Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, Fiji, Germany, India, Japan, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Tadjikistan, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine.

In addition to the core-group, an even broader "control group" of countries was organized by the scientists from Utrecht University. With this additional group, including Austria, Russia, the USA, and most probably France, Great Britain, Sweden, and Poland, a link with already existing national research shall be established.

A quota-sample was used, which considered three criteria: gender, rural versus metropolitan environment, high versus low level of aggression in the students' actual environment. With the last two, the sample was systematically structured. Gender was assumed to be equally distributed across the schools. In addition, the types of school were nationally chosen to represent the respective school systems.

The age was fixed at 12 years in order to standardize possible developmental effects. Many studies have dealt with age differences, and the age of twelve seems to be a period where the interest in media is particularly high; at the same time children are still in the process of socialization. 12 years is the age where they start to become adolescents and are particularly interested in adult role models and respective media images. Of course, "psychological age" and maturity may differ interculturally but still fundamental developmental stages are valid across cultures, as many studies have shown. In any case, we decided to standardize the age factor.

The gathering of the data started in the fall of 1996 and finished with this report in September 1997. Thus, it is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most actual and "fastest" media-effects projects ever conducted.

The results

About 350,000 individual data were obtained and processed (more than 5,000 students with more than 60 variables each). In the first step, simple analyses were applied, in order to get a general overview of the demographics, the global media use, and the state of violence among children around the world. In addition, first indicators of the correlation between media use and individual aggression were obtained. In this stage, most results are based on frequency-and percentage-tables plus a few cross-tabulations. More sophisticated analyses will be featured in a later stage (for the experts: including structural analyses and multivariate models).

The demographics

Global statistics:

2,788 boys and 2,353 girls participated in this stage of the study; all were 12 years old. Boys (54.1%) are thus slightly over-represented compared to girls (45.6%). However, this was intended as we regarded boys as the bigger risk group.

About 80% of the children live with both parents; 13% only with their mother, 2.5% with their father. The remaining live with relatives, in orphanages, or alone. 49% live in a big city, 28% in a small town, 20% in little villages, and the remaining 3% in camps or single houses. The majority of children have fathers who work as employees; 10% do not know their father's profession (as they may not know him). About 9% of the children already have experienced fleeing a country. Nearly 40% of the mothers around the globe take care of the household as their primary profession. Most children live in small to medium-size families either alone with their parents or with just one or two more brothers or sisters (about 90%). About one third of the children were rated (by the local Scout representatives) to live in an aggressive environment or to face problems. The originally proposed 50% match could not be reached as several countries seem to have hardly any such area, which could be easily identified.

Regional differences:

In this stage of the study, we concentrated on four "regions", not the individual countries: Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe/Canada, Latin-America. By doing so, we brought together areas which between themselves may differ immensely. We "merged" Europe and Canada as we assume some common cultural basis. This, of course, is also partly true for Europe and Latin-America. However, for Latin-America there were sufficient numbers of countries to form their own cluster. In any case, this clustering was not more than a first testing of rough cultural differences or overlaps. Some results: Africa has the fewest children of our sample which live together with both parents (app. 72%), Asia the most (88%). Latin-America (75%) and Europe/Canada (83%) are in between. Asia has the most children living in big cities (56%), Europe/Canada (43%) the least. Africa has the most refugees (12%), Latin-America the least (4%).

Not all of these numbers may fit with an objective global count, but some regions were not accessible at all; we also could only investigate children who were able to read. Yet, for the purpose of the study the data seem to be sufficiently valid.

A remarkable difference showed with respect to the mother's profession: While in Latin-America 51% and in Asia 55% of the mothers were reported to take care (exclusively) of the household, the numbers for Europe/Canada are 33% and for Africa 9.9%. For different reasons, most mothers in these two regions also work in other positions (take care of everything; are employed).

All in all, the country selection represented the complete UNDP-index range.

Media use

Global statistics:

97% of the school areas in our sample can be reached at least by one TV broadcast channel. For most areas the average is four to nine channels (34%). 5% receive one, 3% two, 9% three channels, 11% ten to twenty, and 18% more than twenty channels. The percentages are minimum values, as 17% did not answer this question.

91% of the children in our global sample have access to a TV set, primarily at home. Thus, the screen has become a universal medium around the world. Whether it is the favelas, a South Pacific island, or a skyscraper in Asia, television is omnipresent, even if we consider that we did not cover some regions where TV is not available at all. This result justifies the assumption that it still is the most powerful source of information and entertainment outside face-to-face communication. This is confirmed by further statistics. Even radio and books do not have the same distribution (91%, 92%).

All other media follow with some distance: newspaper 85%; tape recorder (e.g. cassette) 75%; comics 66%; video recorder 47%; video games (like "gameboy") 40%; PC 23%; Internet 9%.

The children could report how much time they spend with several favourite activities. The children spent an average of 3 hours daily in front of the screen. That is at least 50% more time spent with this medium than with any other activity including home work (2 hours), helping the family (1.6 hours), playing outside (1.5 hours), being with friends (1.4 hours), reading (1.1 hours), listening to the radio (1.1 hours), to tapes/CDs (0.9 hours), or using the computer (0.4 hours, for whom it applies).

Thus, TV dominates the life of the children around the globe.

Regional differences:

Europe/Canada have the highest distribution of TV (nearly 99%), Africa the lowest (83%). Actually in our study the distribution of TV may be over-represented for Africa, as we did not consider non-school groups or areas without any electricity available. Latin-America comes a close second after Europe/Canada (97%), Asia has "92%. The order is roughly the same with most other audio-visual media, like video, PC, games -- see the numbers under global statistics above. Radio plays still an important role in Africa; here the percentage is similar to Europe/Canada and Latin-America (app. 91%), and slightly higher than in Asia (88%).

Orientations and values

Global statistics:

The emotional states, as well as their ideals are important factors which moderate how children cope with their environment and how they evaluate what they observe in the media. Of course, the media themselves can influence these states and norms.

What is the general emotional state of the children? About two thirds report that they are happy most of the time. About one fourth know the feeling, but do not regularly experience it, and about 2.5% say that they are never happy. There is no difference between boys and girls. Nearly half of the children are anxious most of the time or often, with again no difference between boys and girls. About 47% of the children report that they would like to live in another country (either for adventure or for escapism reasons).

Although the majority of the children are relatively happy, a remarkable number live in a problematic emotional state.

What kind of persons are perceived as role models by the children? They could give a name which then was ordered along a list of different characteristics. The results again demonstrate the importance of the media.

Most children (26%) name an action hero, followed by pop stars and musicians (18.5%). However, there are important gender differences. 30% of the boys mention an action hero, as compared to 21% of the girls. But even for the female group this character comes second after pop stars/musicians (girls: 27%, boys: 12%).

Other personalities play a less important role: About 8% name a religious leader, 7% a military leader (boys: 9%, girls: 3.4%), 6% a philosopher/scientist, 5% a journalist, and only 3% a politician. The remaining are personal acquaintances or have other roles.

This confirms the global trend: Action heroes and pop stars are the favourite role models among children.

Nevertheless, religious beliefs are still widely spread: About 90% of the children report that they believe in (a) God.

What are the personal values of the children? 40% report that their favourite wish is to have a family, because they either live in a functioning parent-child relationship or because they lack it but would like to have it. For 10% enough food is the favourite. This may mean that this group regularly experiences food-deprivation. For 25% of the boys the favourite wish is always to be a winner, 19% of the girls say the same.

Regional differences:

The emotional states seem to differ somewhat between the world regions. While happiness is more or less equally distributed (with Latin-America being a little "happier" than Africa, Europe/Canada, and Asia, in that order), remarkable differences occur when it comes to being anxious. Around 50% of the children in Africa, Latin-America, or Asia are (very) often anxious as compared to about 36% in Europe/Canada.

There are regional differences between the favourite heroes: Asia has the highest ranking for action heroes (34%), Africa the lowest (18%), with Latin-America and Europe/Canada in between (25% each). This may have to do with the significantly lower saturation of audio-visual media in Africa, but may also have other cultural reasons.

However, there is a clear correlation between the presence of TV and reporting action heroes as favourites.

The favourites in Africa are pop stars/musicians (24%) with Asia the lowest (12%). Africa has also high rankings for religious leaders (18%), as compared to Europe/ Canada (2%), Latin-America (6%), and Asia (6%). Military leaders score highest in Asia (9.6%), and lowest in Europe/Canada (2.6%). Journalists score well in Europe/Canada (10%), low in Latin-America (2%). Politicians rank lowest in Europe (1%), highest in Africa (7%).

Again, there may be a correlation with the distribution of mass media: the more TV, the higher the rank of media personalities, and the lower the traditional ones (politicians, religious leaders). In Europe/Canada, journalists get ten times as many votes as politicians.

There is a strong correlation between the accessibility of modern media and the predominant values and orientations.

Violence and aggression

Global statistics:

As reported, roughly one third of the children in our sample live in a high-aggression environment or problematic neighbourhood. This ranks from high-crime areas over recent-war zones and (refugee) camps to economically poor environments which of course do not have to be aggressive per se. Yet, in these areas, more than twice as many people seem to die of being killed by others than in the low-problem neighbourhoods (children's reports: 16% versus 7%).

Again, twice as many children there are member of an armed gang (5.2%) as compared to the low-aggression areas (2.6%). They report more personal enemies (9% versus 5.9%) and regard attacking more often as fun than the children from the low-aggression neighbourhoods (8% versus 4.7%). They also have used weapons more often against someone (7.5% versus 5.5%). Thus, it comes as no surprise, that they are also more anxious (most of the time: 25% versus 19%), and would like to live in another country (53% versus 46%). But they also report a similar happiness as the low-aggression group. However, their world view is obviously influenced by their experience: Nearly one third of the aggression-environment group believe that most people in the world are evil (compared to slightly more than a fifth of the low-aggression- area group).

The pattern is clear and plausible: In high problem areas, children do not only experience more aggressive behaviour, they are also emotionally and cognitively affected: more hedonistic violence, more anxiety, a more pessimistic world view.

Regional differences:

Different forms of aggression are evaluated differently in the cultures of the world. We wanted to know whether a physical attack or a verbal insult is perceived as more "damaging". The results confirm the cultural differences: In Europe and Canada, children regard a physical attack with fists as worse (55.5%) than being given insulting names (44%). In Asia, the opposite is the case: for nearly 70%, verbal insults are worse than physical attacks (29%). Africa is similar to Asia (verbal: 63%, physical: 35%). Latin-America is balanced (50% each).

In different situations, where is the highest probability of aggressive reactions to be found? We presented a number of simple sketches which showed a variety of social situations: A verbal conflict, a physical attack, a recorder damaged by another child, a stereo which a child urgently wanted to have, a group of people hanging around. For each of these situations, the children should say how the involved persons would react, and what they themselves would do in a similar situation.

In situations of social conflict, children in Africa reported most frequently that they would regard physical attacks as adequate reaction: e.g., 32% hitting the other as reaction to verbal insult (Asia 15%, Latin-America 14%, Europe/Canada 16%); 9% even reported shooting the other as adequate. Nearly one third in Africa reported, that a group of people hanging around would attack another group as next action (Asia 28%, Europe/Canada 20%, Latin-America 19%).

At the same time, children in Africa experience having a gun as a powerful feeling more often than in the other regions (25%; Latin-America 18%; Europe/Canada 18%; Asia 10%). They also report that they themselves have a gun more often (4.5%; Latin-America 3.5%; Asia 3.3%; Europe/Canada 2.4%). In general, children in Africa and Asia have twice as often used a weapon against someone (7.1 %; 8.3%) as those in Latin-America and Europe/Canada (4.4%; 3.6%).

All in all, the children's aggressive behaviour patterns and perceptions are a mirror of what they experience in their real environment: frustration, aggression, problematic circumstances.

However, to what extent do the media contribute to these patterns? To what extent do they channel the already existing aggressive predispositions?

Media violence

Most studies show that the relation between media violence and "real" violence is interactive: Media can contribute to an aggressive culture; people who are already aggressive use the media as further confirmation of their beliefs and attitudes, which, in turn, are reinforced through media content. This interaction is especially true for long-term developments. At this stage of the study, we can offer some correlations between media and "real" violence. A one-directional effect cannot be assumed on the global level and could also not be empirically tested. The study focuses on the role of the media in the complex culture of violence beside other influences.

A major question is, whether children are able to distinguish between reality and fiction. Another one deals with the perception that media and everyday-experiences are similar. We compared the children from the high- and the low-aggression environments and asked them whether what they saw in the media resembled their own experiences.

In all cases, the high-aggression-area group reported a stronger overlap between reality and fiction than the low-aggression-area group (movies: 46% versus 40%; TV: 72% versus 69%; radio: 52% versus 48%; comics: 26% versus 22%; all in all not an extreme, but homogeneous trend). Thus, they are more probably confronted with similar aggressive messages in their actual environment and in the media with a higher probability than children from a less-violent neighbourhood. Obviously, media content reinforces the already mentioned belief that most people are evil.

Many children are surrounded by an environment where "real" and media experiences both support the view that violence is natural.

The fascination of violence is often related to strong characters who can control their environment, are (in the end) rewarded for their aggression, and can cope with nearly every problem. The message is at least threefold: Aggression is a good means to solve conflicts; aggression offers status; aggression can be fun. The larger-than-life hero of course is an old theme of art and literature. It serves both needs, the compensation of one's own deficits, and the reference point for one's own behaviour. Relatively new, however, is the global uniformity of such heroes through the mass media and their commercial weight.

One such media figure is the Terminator character from two movies of the same name, starring the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our results confirm that Terminator is a cross-cultural hero. About 88% of the world children population (if our sample is representative) know him.

In the comparison between high- and low-aggression areas it is remarkable that 51% of the children of the high-aggression environment would like to be like him as compared to 37% in the low-aggression neighbourhoods. He seems to represent the characteristics which children think are necessary to cope with difficult situations.

Equally successful are heroes like Rambo, and of course "local" heroes from the respective domestic media markets, e.g., India, Brazil, or Japan.

An aggressive media hero is particularly ''successful'' as role model in the high-aggression areas of the world. Some of these heroes have become culture-overspanning icons.

Are there any systematic patterns in the aggressive cognitions which link personal motives, actual environment, and media content? We analyzed the correlation between different forms of "sensation seeking" (the motive to be thrilled through risk and adventure), a relatively stable personality characteristic, on the one hand, and different actual and media environments on the other.

There was no difference in sensation seeking in the high- and the low-aggression environment. That is plausible, as this personality characteristic is assumed to be highly genetically determined, thus relatively free of environmental influences. However, when we split up the sample into a group with a comparatively well developed technological infrastructure and one with a less well developed one (criterion: distribution of computers, then "median"-split = 50% high/low dichotomy), the picture changed. Twice as many children in the "high technology"-group as in the "low technology"-group reported a risk-seeking tendency (20% versus 10%).

In terms of regions, Africa has by far the lowest (7.3%), Europe/Canada (18.9%) the highest scores, with Asia (18.5%), and Latin-America (15.9%) following close.

This may have to do with two aspects:

a) the sensory stimulation is probably higher in high-technology environments; it thus creates a generally higher state of permanent arousal;

b) with a higher availability of media programming, the risk-seeking tendency is modelled into uniform patterns which mirror the content of the media (e.g., the car chase as a movie icon).

To test the latter, we linked the sensation-seeking tendency in an additional analysis with the preference for media content. The picture is clear. Children, and in particular boys, with a risk seeking tendency have a higher preference for aggressive media content than those who lack this tendency (boys: 40% versus 29%). When asked, whether they would themselves want to be involved in an aggressive situation, the tendency was even stronger: 47% of those who prefer aggressive media content would also like to be involved themselves in a risky situation (as compared to an average of 19% with other media preferences, range: 15%-23%). In the recent analysis, this result comes closest to a direct effects measure:

There is a link between the preference for media violence and the need to be involved in aggression oneself.

The overall result can be interpreted as follows:

The tendency of sensation-seeking is possibly genetically determined (with an extremely strong gender influence: 25% of the boys, but only 4% of the girls report risk-seeking!). The level and direction of this tendency, however, is moderated through the environment. When violence is presented as "thrilling" in the daily media environment, this reinforces the "reward characteristics" of the respective behaviour. When children actually experience violence in their immediate environment, the hedonistic value of "heroism" makes place for its "survival"-value (see the action hero-results).

Thus, depending on the "real" environment, media violence can serve different functions. Nevertheless, in both cases it confirms the "reward"-characteristics of aggressive behaviour.

Conclusions and recommendations

At this stage, we can summarize the role of the media in the perception and application of aggression as follows:

Media violence is universal. It is primarily presented in a rewarding context. Depending on the personality characteristics of the children, and depending on their everyday-life experiences, media violence satisfies different needs: It "compensates" own frustrations and deficits in problem-areas. It offers "thrills" for children in a less problematic environment. For boys, it creates a frame of reference for "attractive role-models". There are many cultural differences, and yet, the basic patterns of the media violence implications are similar around the world. Individual movies are not the problem. However, the extent and omnipresence of media violence contributes to the development of a global aggressive culture. The "reward-characteristics" of aggression are more systematically promoted than non-aggressive ways of coping with one's life. Therefore, the risk of media violence prevails.

The results demonstrate the omnipresence of TV in all areas of the world. Most children around the globe seem to spend most of their time with the medium. What they get is a high portion of violent content. Combined with the real violence, which many children experience, the probability is high that aggressive orientations are promoted rather than peaceful ones. But also in lower-aggression areas, violent media content is presented in a rewarding context. Although children cope differently with this content in different cultures, the transcultural communality of the problem is the fact that aggression is interpreted as a good problem-solver for a variety of situations.

Children want a functioning social and family environment. As they often seem to lack these, they seek role models which offer compensation through power and aggression. This explains the universal success of movie characters like Terminator. Individual preferences for films like this one are not the problem. However, when violent content becomes a common phenomenon up to the occurrence of an aggressive media environment, the probability that children develop a new frame of reference, and that problematic predispositions are channelled into destructive attitudes and behaviour increases immensely.

What are possible solutions? Probably more important than the media are the social and economic conditions in which children grow up. However, the media as constituents of cultures, beliefs, and orientations also deserve much attention. Centralized control and censorship are not efficient and do not meet the criteria of democratic societies.

Three major strategies should be considered:

• Public debate and "common ground" talks between politicians, producers, and teachers.
• The development of professional codes-of-conduct and self-discipline for producers.
• Innovative forms of media education to create competent and critical media users.

Apart from media professionals non-governmental organizations in general and nonformal educational agents with a global perspective such as Scouting can play an important role in this respect.

With communication systems like the Internet, the media will be even more omnipresent and universal. As a consequence, the new digital environment demands similar attention as culture and education in the traditional world.



1. The study is a joint project of UNESCO, The World Organization of the Scout Movement and Utrecht University. This report was presented by Prof. Dr. Jo Groebel to UNESCO on February, 19, 1998.


Groebel, J. (Ed.) (1997). New Media Developments. Trends in Communication I. Amsterdam, Boom Publishers.

Groebel, J. & Gleich, U. (1993). Gewaltprofil des deutschen Fernsehens [Violence Profile of German Television]. Landesanstalt fur Rundfunk Nordthein-Westfalen. Leverkusen, Leske & Budrich.

Groebel, J. & Hinde, R. (Eds.) (1991). Aggression and War. Their Biological and Social Bases. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Groebel, J. & Smit, L. (1997). Gewalt im Internet [Violence on the Internet]. Report for the German Parliament. Bonn, Deutscher Bundestag.

National Television Violence Study (1997). Santa Barbara, University of California.

United Nations Development Program (1997). Human Development Report 1997. New York, Oxford University Press.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:42 pm

Children's Media Situation

Research Articles

Children's Voice in the Media: A Study of Children's Television Programmes in Asia


I like what I get is the same thing as I get what I like. [1]

Most mass media programmes are not produced with children's interest in mind. Like other commercial commodities these are produced for profit in the market place. However it is sometimes asserted that the market place provides the people with what they like to get. The quotation, from Alice in Wonderland, cited above is a reminder to us that things are not as simple as that.

In most Asian countries children under the age of 15 comprise around 40 per cent of the population. This proportion is even higher in poorer countries such as India and Bangladesh. However only a very small proportion of TV programmes, radio programmes, cinema, books, periodicals and newspapers are made for children. While published data on the proportion of children's media are scanty, it has been estimated that in some Asian countries, such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, this is less than five per cent. The lack of information on Children and Media is indicative of the lack of interest among research community and the ruling classes about this issue. It is also indicative of the absence of an accepted policy regarding communication for children. This situation becomes all the more glaring when one considers the fact that in many poorer countries in Asia, a large proportion of children who should be in school are not in school. The proportion is particularly high in the case of Asian girls.

In those countries where the economies are growing rapidly and racing ahead to stay competitive, rampant commercialism has entered children's media programming. For instance, programme related products are heavily advertised and marketed to children. Different media systems collaborate to produce and market children's products as part of their media fare. For example, the TV programme Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spawned comic books, computer games, movies and countless commercials over radio and TV to make it a household name.

In this situation what kind of television programmes are offered to children between the ages of 6 and 15 years in Asian countries? Do they get what they like or do they like what they get? What sort of a world is created for children by these television programmes? To what extent are the policy makers and programme producers in Asian television stations aware of children's rights as enunciated by UN? [2] What are the resources available for the production of children's television programmes in Asia?

These are some of the questions that the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) addressed in an empirical study of television and children in nine Asian countries. [3] The study is expected to be completed by the end of 1997. A monograph containing the more significant findings is planned for publication in 1998.

It is common knowledge that countries in Asia have many cultural, economic and social differences. At the very elementary level one could discern two Asias: the poorer Asia and the richer Asia. Access to television are different in these two regions of Asia. Bangladesh and Nepal, two of the less developed countries in Asia, have around six television sets per 1000 population. The comparable figure for India and Indonesia are 38 sets and 46 sets respectively. In contrast to this in the richer parts of Asia ownership of television is quite wide-spread. South Korea has 416 sets per 1000 population, Singapore 200 sets and Malaysia 102 sets (Goonasekera and Holaday, 1993).

There are also different types of ownership and management of television stations in different countries in Asia. The stations may be owned by government, they may be owned by private individuals or it can be a mixture of the two. These factors have an important bearing on development of television broadcasting in Asian countries. They also influence the policies that are followed in relation to children's television programmes in these countries. Table 1 is a summary description of the television scene in terms of the level of economic development and patterns of ownership in 11 Asian countries.

Table 1. Television Ownership in Eleven Asian Countries


What are the types of television programmes available for children in Asia? For purposes of this research television programmes were classified into 12 types, The 12 categories are: Animation or Cartoons; Puppets; Story Telling; Serial/Drama; Pre-school Magazine; Magazine Information; Information/News; Magazine Entertainment; Quiz/Games; Pop Music; Religious; Cultural/Traditional. There is also an "other" category to include those programmes that cannot be classified within these 12 categories.

Tables 2, 3 and 4 give data on the basis of this classification for two countries. The countries are India and Malaysia. India is from the poorer region of Asia, and Malaysia is from the richer region. India has an open skies policy regarding reception of satellite television programmes by its citizens, whereas Malaysia has imposed restrictions.

Table 2. Telecast of Children's Programmes Doordarshan India

* Based on schedule for 1 week.
** Calculated on the basis of broadcast time per week 1995.
*** Covers variety programmes for children which include story telling, drama, quiz/games, music.

Table 2 gives data for Doordarshan (DDI) in India. It is based on programme schedules for one week in January 1995. Two factors stand our in these data. One is the predominance of animation programmes. It is the single largest category of programmes (19.83%). This is so for many other countries in Asia. The second is the dominance of foreign programmes in this category (63.8%).

The predominance of foreign programmes is compounded by a more recent phenomena in the television scene in India. This is the transmission of programmes by foreign multinational television broadcasters such as StarTV, CNN and BBC World Service to Indian audiences. In addition India has its own satellite channels, some of which are up-linked from foreign points of origin such as Hong Kong (see Table 3).

Table 3. Telecast of Children's Programmes in Indian Satellite Channels


Here again the dominant type of programme for children are animation or cartoon programmes (41.8%) followed by drama programmes (20.9%). India has not controlled direct access to satellite programmes by its citizens. However most of the foreign satellite programmes are distributed mainly through Indian cable companies. Most people in India cannot afford satellite reception dishes as they are too expensive for them. These people subscribe to the cable services which re-transmit foreign satellite services along with local programmes such as local language movies.

Table 4 gives comparable data for Malaysia which is a much wealthier country than India. Unlike India, Malaysia controls access of its citizens to foreign satellite broadcasts by requiring them to get a license to use a satellite dish. The data in this table are in respect of locally broadcast programmes in three Malaysian channels viz. RTM 1, RTM2 and TV3. Here again there is a predominance of foreign material among children's programmes. Nearly 88 per cent of all children's programmes are of foreign origin. Controlling satellite access to its citizens alone is not enough to prevent the dominance of foreign programmes. Alongside such a policy there should also be active encouragement of local programme producers to produce programmes for children. Market forces by themselves may not generate sufficient local television programmes for children.

Table 4. Telecast of Children's Programmes in Malaysia (RTM1, RTM2, TV3) (1994)


Table 5. Availability of Children's Programmes in 7 Asian Countries by Programme Type Duration (minutes) for One Year


How widespread in Asia are the characteristics of children's programmes we have described for India and Malaysia? Table 5 and table 6 give a summary of comparable statistics for seven Asian countries. The statistics show a predominance of animation programmes followed by drama. Furthermore nearly 47 per cent of all programmes for children are of foreign origin. The data also show paucity of informational, cultural and preschool programmes among the total fare offered to children.

Table 6. Telecast of Children's Programmes in seven Asian Countries 1994/1995


While these characteristics are common to many Asian countries there are also significant differences in policies regarding children's television in Asia, Some of these are described below.

In China [5] there are two kinds of programmes relating to children. One is programmes aimed directly at children. Such programmes include entertainment, education and news. The other type is programmes aimed at educating adults regarding their duties towards children. How familiar are the TV producers of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC)? Leading group of China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing and particularly CCTV Youth and Children's Department were aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Contents of the Convention are consciously incorporated into TV programmes. Examples of such television programmes are those made for the International Children's Day of Broadcasting (December), the International Children's Day (June), and programmes telecast on winter and summer vacations. Big Wind Mill and Tell It Like It Is are two television programmes that incorporated the principles of UN CRC. Implementation of the UN CRC provisions is often considered in combination with that of the National Programme of Action for Child Development in China.

In India [6] the total number of children's programmes in all channels is less than one per cent. Most of these programmes are designed for upper class urban children. However these are not popular among this audience because of lack of entertainment. Not a single of the programmes recalled by the sample of children interviewed was made in India. When respondents from DDI were asked about programme priorities none of them mentioned children's programmes. None of the networks has any specific policies to create awareness or to create programmes on children's rights. An obvious gap in children's television programming in India is the virtual absence of programmes specifically made for early teens.

In Indonesia [7] tight competition for advertising revenue has resulted in little attention being paid to children's programmes because such programmes are perceived as being less attractive to advertisers. The emergence of private television and lack of proper policies and guidelines about programming content has resulted in an uncontrolled and confused situation. In this situation it has become difficult to develop children's television. Of 15 programmes most preferred by children, seven were programmes for adults. Station managers had little or no knowledge about UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In Japan [8] NHK has taken a leading role in the production of children's programmes. Its productions are enjoyable and has educational value. Children's programmes are broadcast in three out of four NHK channels. A project called YUMEDIA uses a travelling caravan to bring hands on broadcast experience to grade school children. In contrast to NHK, which is a public broadcast organization, the commercial stations in Japan do not have separate children's programmes. Children's programmes are included in programmes for family viewing. In commercial TV stations animation and metamorphosis drama are the main kinds of children's programmes. All children's programmes top rated by Japanese children are produced in Japan. Producers in NHK are well aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Publicity for children's rights are given through information and educational programmes.

In Malaysia [9] the government broadcasting station, RTM, is making a serious effort to produce children's television programmes. The commercial stations, TV3 and Metrovision, have nor shown similar enthusiasm. This neglect is due to the perception that children's programmes do not have much appeal to the advertisers. RTM producers are quite aware of the UN Convention on Children's Rights. They have gained this knowledge through international conferences in which they have participated. Private broadcasters on the other hand are unaware or vaguely aware of UN CRC.

In Nepal [10] severe financial constraints have hampered the production of children's television programmes. Children's programmes hold low priority due to the perceived lack of advertising/ market support. This is made worse by lack of adequate training in the production of children's programmes and lack of creativity. Nepalese television producers have heard of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child but are not familiar with its detailed provisions.

In Philippines [11] there has been an increased interest in children's television programmes in recent years. However this still remains a neglected area. Lack of profit in children's programmes is the main reason for its neglect. Furthermore many children's issues have become politicized. Sometimes the way television handle these issues are not in the best interests of the children. For instance, child victims of sex and violence are made to relate gruesome details for the benefit of TV cameras. Several bills have been filed in the Philippines Congress to improve television programming for children. These include the introduction of a rating system and regulating television advertising.

In Singapore [12] there has been some revival of children's television programmes after corporatization of television in 1994. Locally produced children's TV programmes target a wide age range: from 4 to 12 years. Children within this age range have a wide variation of cognitive abilities. Television programmes targeting such a wide age range are generally ineffective in appealing to such a group. Television stations also broadcast a large number of programmes for pre-schoolers. Older children's needs are not sufficiently met. Consequently, older children consume a large proportion of adult programmes. No special training has been provided for children's programme producers. The programmes reflect Singapore's political and cultural climate. Stress is on maintaining racial and religious harmony and political stability. The priority given to children's programmes is low. This is because of the belief among managers that the audience ratings of these programmes do not justify high expenditure. Only few producers were aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In Vietnam [13] every year the government sets targets for producing children's programmes. These programmes are directed at children or are aimed to educate adults regarding the needs of the children. Financial limitations are a major factor which inhibits production of children's television programmes. There are very few programmes catering to children over ten years of age. Producers are aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and related state policies.

Overall children's programmes produced in many Asian countries do not appeal to the children for whom they are meant. Consequently only a small percentage of what is made available are actually watched by children. According to Mira Aghi (1996), an Indian media researcher, around 75 per cent of her sample of children mentioned programmes made for adults as the ones they liked. Crime, thrillers, comedies and family serials form the core of the programmes liked by her respondents. The Sri Lankan researcher Dharmadasa (1994) observes that locally produced children's programmes are often not up to the level with regard to quality and content that most children demand. According to a survey carried out by Survey Research Malaysia (1994), of 100 most viewed programmes in Malaysian television by children between the ages 6 and 14, only three are children's programmes. These are all foreign productions. Their rank is given in brackets: Cyber Cop (39th place), Uetraman Trio (63rd place), Alamria Disney (80th place).

Of the countries surveyed three have followed policies conducive to the development of television programmes for children. These are China, Vietnam and Japan. In China and Vietnam support received from the government was crucial. In Japan public broadcasting policy of NHK was behind the success of children's television. However in many other countries children's television programmes had to compete in the marketplace. In this it could not succeed. The advertisers and marketers saw little profit to be made from children's television. The AMIC survey shows clearly the need to develop children's television in many countries in Asia. It also shows that market forces will not do this. A concerted effort by concerned groups is needed to mobilize support for children's television in Asia. Resources of government, civil society, educational institutions and commercial organizations need to be mobilized. At the Asian Summit of Child Rights and the Media [14] AMIC proposed the creation of an Asian Children's Communication Fund for the production and marketing of quality children's programme for television, radio and press. We believe that this is a practical way of addressing issues concerning children and media in Asia.



1. March Hare at the Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.

2. Children have inalienable rights. This fact was endorsed by the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly in 1989. 191 governments are now State Parties to this international treaty including all nations in Asia-Pacific.

3. The countries are China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. The study was partially funded by UNICEF. In addition to these countries data for Sri Lanka and Thailand are also included in this paper.

4. Philippines does have two government supported stations.

5. Prof. Huang Chang Zhu, Deputy Director & Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Documentation & Information of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, was the lead researcher for the study in China.

6. Ms. Lalita Eashwer of Kanoi Marketing Services, Madras, was the lead researcher for the study in India.

7. Mr. Bob Gantarto, Researcher at Indonesian Child Welfare Foundation in Jakarta, was the lead researcher for the study in Indonesia

8. Ms. Sachiko Kodaira, Senior Researcher at NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute, Tokyo, was the lead researcher for the study in Japan.

9. Prof. R. Karthigesu and Dr. Shanti Balraj of the School of Communication, University Sains Malaysia in Penang, were joint lead researchers for the study in Malaysia.

10. Ms. Josefina Dhungana of DECORE Consultancy Group in Katmandu was the lead researcher for the study in Nepal.

11. Dr. Theresa H. Stuart, Social Mobilization Officer in UNICEF, Manila, was the lead researcher for the study in the Philippines.

12. Ms. Lin Ai Leen of the School of Communication Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, was the lead researcher for the study in Singapore

13 Prof. Chung A, Director, Centre for Sociology at Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy was the lead researcher for the study in Vietnam.

14. The Summit was held in Manila, Philippines, during 2-5 July 1996. It was the first Children's Summit organized for the print, broadcasting, film and advertising media. It was supported by Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU), Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), Philippines Children's Television Foundation (PCWF), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of the Philippines.


Aghi, Mira (1996) Cited in Television and Children: What Kids Are Viewing in Asia. Presentation by Anura Goonasekera at International Forum of Researchers: Young People and Media Tomorrow. GRREM, Paris 1997.

Dharmadasa, P.(1994) Sri Lanka Research Data on Children and Television compiled by P. Dharmadasa. Singapore, AMIC holdings.

Goonasekera, Anura & Duncan Holaday (1993) Asian Communication Handbook. Singapore, AMIC.

Karthigesu, R. (I 994) Children and Tekvision. Malaysian Interim Report. Singapore, AMIC.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:48 pm

Media Influence and Chinese Urban Children's Ethics Development [1]


In the earlier 1980s, media such as television, tape recorder, video tape recorder, video game machine, etc., began to be popularized throughout mainland China. In 1980, mainland China had 9,020,000 colour TV sets, and by 1990 it had increased 1,956% and reached 185,460,000 sets with an average of 79.4 people to one set. Meanwhile the public prints also greatly increased. From 1976 to 1982, the prints for children and juveniles rose from 880 kinds to 3,690 kinds and the impression from 268,000,000 copies to 1,034,000,000 copies. In 1989, 3,861 kinds of books for children and juveniles with an impression of 1,719,300,000 copies and 76 kinds of magazines with an impression of 145,860,000 copies were published. In 1990, 42 kinds of newspapers with a circulation of 545,870,000 copies were printed. Generally speaking, the main users of these media were in urban areas.

China has a population of 1.2 billion and 320 million families, 20.72% of which, about 66 million, are only child families. The investigation on media use in the only child families (1996) shows that 98.9% of the only child families have televisions, 92.3% have radios, 72.8% have telephones, 62.1 % have video tape recorders, 60.3% have video game machines, 35.9% have learning automations, and 20.6% have computers. Each family subscribes to 3.8 newspapers and magazines on average, 2.58 of which are for the only child.

It is obvious that using and enjoying media has become an important part in children's lives because of the popularity of media and thus their lives have been greatly influenced by media. Therefore, the relationship between the use of media and the ethics development of children has become a new question for study. So the purpose of our research is to: (1) describe and analyze the conditions of the use of media among Chinese urban children; (2) describe and analyze the conditions of the ethics development of Chinese urban children; (3) prove and explain the correlation between the use of media and ethics development; (4) compare the effects of the factors that influence ethics development when children use the media; (5) put forward suggestions how we could utilize media to improve ethics education.


Children's use of media means the actions that children choose so as to use media to meet their needs under a certain social influence.

As for ethics, it has many different definitions given by different countries and academic fields. But according to Piaget, "each ethics has a system which has many rules in it, and the nature of ethics is that one learns to obey these rules". Thus what we mainly study is the contents and the standards of the ethics in the current society and how well children learn and obey these rules.

According to the children's ethics education outline issued by China State Education Commission in 1993 and referring to the contents and the standards of ethics as defined by the earlier researchers, we define the contents and the standards of the ethics learned by children as those which cover the main aspects of their individual and social lives. Ethics can be roughly divided into two kinds: (1) individual ethics -- individual ethics mainly refers to the social ethical standards that children learn and obey in order to satisfy their needs for self-development. It includes: in the aspect of material life -- eat food that benefits health, dress plainly and neatly, love sports, study hard, fulfill tasks independently, love labor, practice thrift; in the aspect of social life - strong desire for knowledge and information, love art. (2) social ethics -- social ethics mainly refers to the moral standards, the nature and the codes of conduct that a child should follow when he coordinates the relationships between himself and another person, a collective or the society. It includes: honesty, equality, independence, being ready to help others, care for collective, patriotism. The difference in children's ethics level lies in: (1) whether or not they obey all the ethics codes; (2) to what extent they can obey the rules.

In modern society, the mass media have been regarded as one of the most important factors affecting children's socialization, other important factors being family, school and same age groups. However, the educational and recreational contents in media have high heterogeneity. The media spread educational information close to social reality, which corresponds to the ethic concepts and behaviors the modern society demands. On the contrary, the recreational contents spread information about the imaginary world that is far from the actual world, so they maintain a distance from the ethical concepts and behaviors modern society demands.

Considering the above analysis, our hypotheses are: There is a correlation between the media and the moral concept and the behavior of children. The more contact children have with media that contains knowledge, the better their moral concept and behavior will meet the needs of modern society.


Our research is carried out mainly by questionnaire.

According to China Urban Society Economic Almanac (1992), China has 469 cities, in which there are 13,800,000 primary pupils and 6,311,500 junior middle school students. 187 out of the 469 cities are medium or above with a total population of 178,070,000 that accounts for 15.6% of the total population in China and 53% of the total population in urban areas. We took 3,360 samples from grade 3 of primary school to grade 3 of junior middle school from 112 schools in 16 cities out of the 187 medium or above cities, and 3,337 valid questionnaires were taken back. The cities are Shanghai, Huizhou in Guandong province, Baoji in Shaanxi province, Wuhan in Hubei province, Changchun in Jilin province, Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, Jinchang in Gansu province, Huaiyin in Jiangsu province, Taiyuan in Shanxi province, Yingkou in Liaonin province, Cangzhou in Hebei province, Juijiang in Jiangxi province, Puyang in Henan province, Neijiang in Sichuan province, Rizhao in Shandong province, Sanya in Hainan province, and so on.

The composition of the sample is as follows: Boys comprise 47.2% of the total, while girls comprise 52.8%. 1% are 8 years old or below, 9.2% are 9 years old, 13.9% are 10 years old, 15.7% are 11 years old, 15.2% are 12 years old, 11.1% are 13 years old, 13.4% are 14 years old, 12.7% are 15 years old and 7.2 % are 16 years old or above.

Besides questionnaires, we organized 32 seminars in the 16 cities attended by 300 teachers and parents to get their ideas and suggestions on media influence and children's ethics development. In addition, comparative studies on average children, model children and exceptionally gifted children were conducted. The utilization of the various study methods assured the objectivity, accuracy and the scientific quality of the results.

Principal results and analysis

Firstly, Chinese urban children are exposed to many kinds of mass media. Although most children watch TV, it does not lead to a lessening interest in print. Children have limited reading ability, however over 50% of Chinese urban children's contact with print (2,407) is higher than with electronic media (2,052). This is of great importance to children's all-round development, especially the formulation of modern concept, and intelligence development. When children are about 10 years old, they are able to select different media to meet their needs. They will choose electronic media such as television, tape recorder, video tape recorder or video game machine when they need recreation or stimulation; they will choose television, broadcast or newspaper when they want to get news; they will choose print such as books, magazines or newspaper when they want to realize the present world and understand themselves; they will choose video game machine, tape recorder, television and telephone when they want to lessen life pressures, loneliness and annoyance. More than half of the children like pop music, which means children are likely to become socially involved when they are pupils. If the time a child has contact with electronic media exceeds two hours a day, it is possible that the child's social intercourse and study, even his mental health, will be affected. Generally speaking, the frequency, duration and kinds of media that Chinese children have contact with are reasonable. The abnormal phenomenon of children lost in some electronic media has not spread out in China. One important reason is that the economy in China developed so rapidly that various media developed almost at the same time; thus it is possible for children to select media to satisfy their own needs. Besides, the proper care of schools and families play an important role.

Secondly, Chinese urban children have the principal nature of ethics and behavior, however it is not satisfactory. In the aspect of patriotism, they got the highest average mark that was 4.56 points (total 5 points); as for the three other aspects -- point of view on money, confidence and attitudes towards study -- their marks are above the average. In the aspects of care for collective and others, good habits and customs, aspiring after knowledge and arts, physical training and independence, they obtained a mark lower than average, and the lowest mark was 3.27 points in independence, which could not meet the demands of a modern society.

According to research on the personality development of Chinese urban only children, we find that the only child has a greater desire for affinity and persistence and that 70% of the only children can accept themselves. But most of the only children do not have a strong desire for achievement although they are in better living conditions and their parents place high hopes in them. Some only children are relatively aggressive, which has become a main shortcoming in their personality.

Thirdly, there exists a correlation between children's contact with media and their ethics points of view and behavior:

1. There exists a notable positive correlation between children's moral marks and the frequency and duration of children's contact with broadcast and print, such as newspapers, magazines, books, and so on. That is, the more frequently and longer children listen to broadcast and read newspapers, magazines and books, the higher moral marks they gain; the higher moral marks they gain, the more frequently and longer they have contact with these four kinds of media. On the contrary, there exists a negative correlation between children's moral marks and the frequency and duration of children's contact with television, video tape recorders and video game machine. That is, the more frequent and longer children's contact with television, video tape recorder and video game machine, the lower moral marks they gain; the lower moral marks they gain, the more frequent and longer their contact with these three kinds of media.

A study on Chinese children's ideological, ethical and cultural condition (including rural areas) in 1996 shows that as high as 75.4% of the primary pupils regard books as the most helpful to their growth (see Table 1).

As for middle school students, what they think is a little different from the primary school pupils (see Table 1). What is worth paying attention to is that 28% of the middle school students think that the computer is the most helpful, which ranks the sixth in the list. That is, at least 28% of the middle school students are computer users, and have entered the information society.

Table 1. Media that Is Most Helpful


When we ask a primary school pupil or a middle school student "Which media in the list do you think has the worst effect on you?", 87.2% primary school pupils will answer that it is video game machine (see Table 2).

The middle school students' ideas are a little different from the primary school pupils (see Table 2).

Table 2. Media that Has the Worst Effect


But we cannot simply conclude that electronic media is harmful to children. In fact, television, video tape recorder and video game machine are neutral; therefore their effects depend on the users -- who use them, how they use them, for what purpose they use them and how they understand them, and so on. Media is only one of the various factors that affect children's ethics development.

Video game machine will exercise bad influence over a child when his/her family relations become strained, or when his/her own life is not successful or when he/she has a strong desire for violence.

2. As for the contact with print and broadcast, there is a notable difference between the high frequency group and the lower frequency group in their preference for the contents of the media: children in the high frequency group obviously prefer the educational contents on television, broadcast, newspaper and books; while the lower frequency group obviously prefers the recreational and stimulating programs and popular literature in books. There exists a notable positive correlation between the knowledgeable contents in different media and children's moral marks. Thus, our hypotheses are proved.

3. There exists a notable positive correlation between children's moral marks and the contents of children's literature in television, broadcast, newspaper, magazine and books. With the development of China's commodity economy, the main tendency of children's literature is healthy and helpful and good for children's development. And children think it is most helpful. Children's literature refers to animated cartoon TV plays, TV play serials for children, theatrical performances for children, fairy tales, children's stories, reportage, fables, essays in magazines and newspapers, and songs for children. We can conclude that children who gain high moral marks like children's literature, and there forms a benign cycle between the contents of children's literature and children's ethics development.

4. There exists a negative correlation between children's moral marks and the recreational and stimulating contents in television programs. The two possible reasons for this negative relationship are: (1) the ethical point of view and behavior standards that exist in the media are contrary to those that the children are asked to learn and follow; (2) when the ethical point of view and behavior standards that exists in media agree with those the children are asked to learn and follow, the negative relationship is probably caused by children's misunderstanding of the programs for adults because they lack the necessary and complete background knowledge; therefore they might misunderstand or distort the contents of the programs. Sometimes the two reasons take effect at the same time.


The above research is just the first step and worth continuing. Your support and cooperation are welcome.

Based on our present results, we make the following suggestions:

1. Encourage children to come into contact with print and advocate and organize their listening to broadcasts for children. For this purpose, we should make well-known to parents and teachers the meaning of print and broadcast, and pass on all the effective experience.

2. Strengthen, promote and spread educational contents and children's literature. Guide children to better contact with the educational contents and children's literature in such media as television, broadcast, newspaper, magazine, etc.

(1) Encourage and advocate writers to produce high quality, educational and literary works which reflect children's lives so as to attract them to reading.

(2) Make great efforts to develop television art for children. Because of the lack of the literary and educational TV programs that are appropriate for them, children have been in contact with programs for adults, such as gong-fu films, amorous films, and so on. If this continues, it may probably cause misunderstanding and misbehavior because of their lack of knowledge and experience. According to a report in the 4th issue of Juvenile Study by China Youth and Juvenile Research Center, titled Tragedy from Teenage-Research on the Causes of 115 Capital Prisoners, all the 115 capital prisoners committed crimes during their teenage years. 30.5% of them had been juvenile offenders and 61.5% of them had criminal records by their teenage years. 103 of the 115 were affected by indecent video tapes, which accounted for 90%. A rapist raped a young girl when he saw two lovers flirting on TV. Thus, it is of great importance to give energetic support to the development of healthy television art for children.

3. Strengthen the guidance of children's use of television, video tape recorder and video game machine. Spread the related knowledge to parents and teachers. Improve children's ability to analyze and evaluate electronic media. Ask children to lessen the frequency of using electronic, audio and video media, for example, three times a week and 1.5 hours each time. Encourage children to learn to exist, care for others and develop themselves in order to grow up as physically and mentally healthy modern people.



1. This paper was presented at the International Forum Researchers Youth and Media -- Tomorrow, April 21-25, 1997, in Paris, France, organised by GRREM (Group de recherche sur la relation enfants/medias).


China Youth and Juvenile Research Center has made a series of investigations since 1992, such as Media Influence and Chinese Urban Children's Ethics Development (1992), The Childhood and Education of the Outstanding Youth (1995), The Ethic and Cultural Condition of Chinese Children and Juveniles (1996), The Personality Development and the Education of the Chinese, Urban Only Child (1996).
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:59 pm

Children and Electronic Media: An Australian Perspective


Radio, free-to-air television, pay television, prerecorded videos, computer/video games, on-line services -- the electronic media choices available to children in Australia in the second half of the 1990s are extensive. The following statistics provide an indication of the choices available and help set the scene for children's use of the media.

• Nearly all Australian households (approximately 99%) have at least one television set. Of these television households, 43% have one set, 40% have two and 17% have three or more.
• A majority of television households (85%) also have one or more video cassette recorders (VCRs).
• One in five (22%) have a video game connected to a television set. [1]
• Penetration of pay TV services and the Internet are lower but increasing. Figures for February 1997 put penetration of both at around 6% of television households. [2] More recent estimates put pay TV penetration at more than 10% of households. [3]

Research conducted in 1995 indicates that penetration of various media in households with children is higher than in households generally. The Australian Broadcasting Authority's (ABA's) monograph Families and Electronic Entertainment cited Reark Research figures on media ownership rates for all households compared to households with children (6 to 11 years) and households with teenagers (12 to 17 years). Table 1 reproduces the figures and indicates higher rates of VCR ownership and Internet access in households with children and teenagers.

The ABA's research for the Families and Electronic Entertainment monograph included an inventory of electronic entertainment equipment in homes with children and teenagers aged between 8 and 17 years. Table 2 includes a selection of results from the inventory.

Table 1. Ownership of Media in Australian Households


Source: Reark Research: Information Technology and Communications Monitor, June 1995.

It is interesting to note that in mid 1995 when these data were collected, 58% of households with children and teenagers had a TV-linked games machine. This compares with the 1996 ACNieisen figure of 22% of all households with a video game connected to the television set. It is also worth noting that pay TV equipment was not included in the inventory. This was due to the relatively late commencement of pay TV services in Australia. When the Families and Electronic Entertainment research was being devised in late 1994, pay TV services had not yet commenced. [4]

Table 2. Household (with Children and Teenagers 8 to 17 Years of Age) Ownership of Electronic Entertainment Equipment. Mid-1995


Time spent using electronic media

While the majority of Australian children and teenagers have a variety of electronic media options available to them in the home, it is still free-to-air television which dominates their leisure time. The Families and Electronic Entertainment research included a three day time-use diary for children and teenagers to complete in relation to their leisure time, i.e. excluding time spent at school, travelling, sleeping, personal care and doing household chores.

Diary results showed that an average of 5 hours and 40 minutes a day was spent on leisure activities by the 500 children and teenagers who completed and returned diaries. This comprised:

• 3 hours and 10 minutes on electronic entertainment activities, and
• 2 hours and 30 minutes on non-electronic entertainment leisure activities.

On top of this, an average of 41 minutes a day was spent doing school homework.

Analysis of time spent on leisure and homework activities indicated that television was the most time-consuming activity with an average of 33% of available time. This was followed by:

• going to places (11% of time spent on leisure and homework activities),
• doing homework (11%),
• general play (10%),
• playing sports (8%),
• listening to music on radio, CD or cassette (7%),
• playing computer/video games (5%), and
• hanging around (5%).

The relative amounts of time spent on different activities varied depending on the age and gender of the child or teenager. The Families and Electronic Entertainment monograph describes these variations:

The amount of time spent listening to music, watching television, hanging around and doing homework increased with the age of the child. Listening to music on cassette, CD or radio tended to be highest among 12 to 17 year olds. Compared to older children and teenagers, younger children spent more time drawing or writing letters and general play.

Compared to girls, boys spent significantly more time watching television, playing sport and playing video games over the survey period. Girls spent more time reading, listening to tapes and CDs and drawing or writing letters than boys ... (pp. 22-23)

Even with these age and gender variations, television viewing remained the single most time-consuming activity amongst all groups of children and teenagers. ACNieisen figures for television viewing by children and teenagers indicate that the average amount of time spent watching per day has remained relatively stable over the last six years (see Table 3).

Table 3. Average Daily Television Viewing - 1991 to 1996


Given the dominance of television viewing in the lives of children and teenagers in Australia, it is useful to spend some time considering the channels and content available to them and the programs they actually watch.

Television services in Australia

A 1996 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that there were approximately 12.2 million television sets in Australia or 1.9 sets per television household. [5] A large majority of television households have access to three commercial free-to-air television services as well as the Government-funded national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC).

In the capital cities, larger metropolitan centres and many regional areas, households also have access to the other Government-funded service, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). The principal function of the SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians, and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society.

Community television services also operate in some markets.

The level of Australian content on the free-to-air commercial services is governed by a standard administered by the ABA. The Australian Content Standard requires that at least 50% of all programming broadcast between 6 a.m. and midnight be Australian. This requirement will increase to 55% from the beginning of 1998.

The ABA also administers the Children's Television Standard (CTS) which has its objective:

Children should have access to a variety of quality television programs made specifically for them, including Australia drama and non-drama programs.

Commercial television services are required by the CTS to broadcast at least 390 hours of children's programs per year. For the purposes of the standard, children's programs are those classified either C or P by the ABA. C programs are aimed at primary school children and P programs at preschool children. The 390 hours per year of children's programs are made up of at least 130 hours of P programs and at least 260 hours of C programs.

To be classified as either C or P by the ABA, the program must meet a number of criteria. These are:

1. made specifically for children or groups of children within the preschool or primary school age range;

2. entertaining;

3. well produced using sufficient resources to ensure a high standard of script, cast, direction, editing, shooting, sound and other production elements;

4. enhances a child's understanding and experience; and

5. appropriate for Australian children.

In addition to C and P programs, there are many other programs on commercial television which target a child audience. These are classified either G (General) or PG (Parental Guidance Recommended) by the broadcasters under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.

The ABC is not subject to the Australian Content Standard and the CTS. However, in line with its charter, a large proportion of its programming is Australian and its children's programming is extensive.

Pay TV services also carry children's programming. There are three drama pay TV channels which provide programming specifically for children: Nickelodeon Australia, The Fox Kids Network and The Disney Channel Australia. Each stresses the importance of localising their channels to the needs of Australian audiences and have set up local offices and facilities to encourage this. [6]

What children watch

ABA research conducted in 1995 and published in the monograph Kids Talk TV: 'super wickid' or 'dum' asked children 5 to 12 years of age what they liked and didn't like to watch on television. Comedy, drama, action adventure and variety were favourite program types. Favourite programs ranged from Bananas in Pyjamas and A*mazing (both Australian) for the youngest age group (primary school grades one and two), to The Simpsons (USA) and soaps such as Neighbours (Australian) which were popular with the oldest of the groups (grades five and six).

The children who participated in the research liked watching characters who were their own age or a bit older, or teenagers and young adults who seemed to be doing more interesting things. Acting ability and attitude were considered more important than the presence of good looking characters.

They defined boring programs as those without humour, action and adventure, those they had outgrown, news programs, programs with 'grown up' humour that children did not understand, and some documentaries. A Sydney girl in grade five talked about 'grown up' humour versus humour children could appreciate:

Some of it is at our level and humour we can understand -- some of the adult shows they have this grown up humour we can't understand (Melrose Place) but The Nanny ... it's out of the ordinary. Would you really have a nanny like for these three sensible kids with a mini skirt and all these weird clothes? (pp. 51)

ACNieisen's television ratings data provide a quantitative measure of what children like to watch. Table 4 presents the top 30 programs for children 5 to 12 years of age in Sydney in August 1996. The 1996 Olympics took place during this period and broadcasts of the Olympics dominate the list with nine of the top 30 places.

Other programs represent a mixture of Australian and overseas (predominantly the USA) productions. There are a wide variety of program types including situation comedies (e.g. The Nanny and 3rd Rock from the Sun), 'reality' amateur video programs (e.g. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show), action adventure programs (e.g. Hercules: Legendary Journeys) and a game show featuring physical competition between competitors (Gladiators). While many of the top rating programs were not specifically aimed at children, some were, e.g. The Genie From Down Under and Saturday Disney.

Table 4. Top 30 Programs for Children 5 to 12 years - Sydney, August 1996


Parental concern

Given the amount of time children in Australia spend watching television and using other forms of electronic entertainment equipment, the question arises as to what level of concern parents have about their children's electronic media usage. It is a question explored in the ABA's Families and Electronic Entertainment research.

Initially it was explored in the context of concerns about a range of social issues. Parents were asked which three issues were of greatest concern in relation to their child's well-being. The issue mentioned by the largest proportion of the sample was education (70% of parents mentioned it as one of their top three concerns). This was followed by:

• personal safety/security (68%);
• quality of life (53%);
• drugs (29%);
• employment (23%);
• electronic entertainment (18%); and
• natural environment (16%).

Within the electronic entertainment category, television was the issue of most concern, followed by computer/video games, video game arcades and videos. This ordering was reflected in the degree of concern expressed by parents when subsequently asked about the amount of time their children spent with different electronic media. Almost one in three parents (32%) indicated they had some level of concern about the amount of time spent by their child using television, 15% had some concern about the amount of time spent using computer/video games, while 9% had some concern about use of videos.

These findings indicate that while some parents have concerns about their children's use of electronic media, for most parents it is not a major issue. When asked about the balance their child had achieved between use of electronic media and other activities, 75% thought that their child had achieved a reasonable balance, while 15% indicated they wished their child was more involved in other activities and interests. The rest indicated that they wouldn't be bothered if their child was more involved in electronic entertainment.

The future

Australian children appear likely to have an increasing range of electronic media choices available to them. The number of households connected to the Internet continues to grow as does Internet access through educational institutions. ACNieisen data collected between August 1996 and January 1997 indicate that 44% of males and 35% of females in the 14 to 17 year age group had ever accessed the Internet, while 28% and 21% respectively had accessed in the previous month. [7]

The introduction of digital radio and digital television services, while some years away, also has the potential to increase the range of electronic media services available. With increased choice, there may be some erosion of the current dominance of Australian children's leisure time by free-to-air television. Patterns of media usage may change with increased use of interactive media and media catering more to specific interest groups rather than mass audiences. In the near future, however, free-to-air television is likely to remain a major consumer of Australian children's leisure time.



1. Figures for televisions, VCRs and video games ate national averages for 1996 and are sourced from ACNieisen's publication TV Trends 1997. ACNieisen (now known as ACNielsen McNair) is the organisation in Australia which compiles the television ratings data.

2. Cited in article 'Pay Household Profiles Emerging as Ads Get Closer' in Pay TV News, February 21 to March 7, 1997, and sourced to ACNieisen.

3 Estimate reported in article 'Things not going better with pay TV' in The Mercury newspaper of 6 September 1997.

4. Pay TV services commenced in Australia in 1995.

5. Australian Bureau of Statistics' Population Survey Monitor September 1996 cited in AFC News, March/April 1997.

6. For further details see 'Pay TV for Australian Children, by Belinda Mullen of the ABA's Children's Television Section in the June 1997 Newsletter (Issue No.4) of the International Research Forum on Children and Media.

7. Source: ACNieisen's publication TV Trends 1997.


Cupitt, M. & Stockbridge, S. (1996), Families and Electronic Entertainment, Monograph 6, Australian Broadcasting Authority. Sydney.

Sheldon, S., Loncar. M. & Ramsay, G. (1996), Kids Talk TV: 'Super Wickid' or 'Dum: Monograph 7. Australian Broadcasting Authority, Sydney.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:06 am

An Overview of Children's Broadcasting in South Africa


In South Africa, where children have been, and in some cases still are, witnesses to violence and a general lack of self worth, are without hope and pride, broadcasting becomes a very important medium for overcoming fears and building optimism. [1]

This article seeks to introduce the reader to the broadcasting landscape in South Africa, focusing on children's broadcasting. It will also highlight the developments within the country in advocating for quality children's programming.


On June 16 1995, the South African Government of National Unity ratified the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In so doing, it committed South Africa to implementing the principle of a "first call for children" whereby the needs of children are considered paramount throughout the Government's programmes, services and development strategies. [2] This principle was adopted by the Reconstruction and Development Programme and is the basis of South Africa's commitment to children. [3]

It is estimated that more than 35% of the total South African population (according to the last Census report) is below the age of 14 years. [4] Although South Africa has only recently ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it succeeded prior to the 1994 election, in having children in the country draft their own Children's Rights Charter in June 1992. This Charter referred to rights of the child in keeping with the UN CRC.

As an emerging democracy there is a need for more in-depth attention and focus to be placed on children and the media -- in particular children and the electronic media. Research in the field of media and its effects on children, and in general the relationship between children and the media, is limited. This sector of the population is under-researched; however a Youth Commission [5] has been set up to address the needs and concerns of South Africa's young population.

A brief history of the South African broadcasting environment

Until 1993 broadcasting was predominantly the domain of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Established in 1936, as a radio service, the SABC developed regional services in the sixties and later ethnic language services in line with apartheid policy. Public television was finally introduced in 1976 after intensive parliamentary debate as the nationalist apartheid regime had been holding up the development of television since the early fifties. In 1985 the first independent television channel, Electronic Media Network (M-NET), was launched as a subscription service.

As the transition from apartheid to democracy began to unfold, and South Africa was to have its first democratic election, increasing attention was placed on the electronic media. For years it had been the mouthpiece of government and controlled by the state. Coalitions of anti-apartheid organisations were campaigning vehemently for open democratic broadcasting. As a result of these campaigns, questions of press freedom were placed on the agenda of the multi-party negotiations towards a democratic election. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was thus brought into being in 1994, by the then Transitional Executive Council. The main objective of the IBA at the time was to ensure a free, fair and open election and to create a transparent broadcasting environment.

The IBA Act was enacted on the 27 October 1993, and was the first Act of Parliament in the pre-election period which made provision for the public nomination of Councillors to head the IBA, and for a public hearings process of selection. The primary object of the Act is to provide for the regulation of broadcasting activities in the Republic in the public interest and to open the airwaves so as to

promote the provision of a diverse range of sound and television broadcasting services on a national, regional and local level, when viewed collectively cater for all languages and cultural groups and provide entertainment, education and information." (Section 2 (a) IBA Act)

Although the IBA Act is not explicit on programming for children, it does mandate the Authority to regulate in the public interest. Children make up a large part of the public and constitute a sector (or special community) of the broader public. Programming in the public interest and thus programming for children is becoming a priority. This is evidenced in the IBA's Position Paper on Private Television (1997) where it mandates the first private free-to-air television service to broadcast at least 12 hours per week of children's programmes. These programmes in addition to being diverse in genre, must also take into consideration the needs of two age groups: 0-9 year olds and 9-15 year olds.

Broadcasting for children

Children's television in South Africa as a mass medium is in an embryonic stage of its development. Until 1990, there had been no real attempt to develop programmes that where relevant to the vast majority of children and thus have not been reflective of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual society, nor of the everyday experiences of young people in the country.

I would argue that apartheid has prevented children from developing a sense of belonging and from becoming a holistic sector of the society, able to participate effectively. Indeed. apartheid has arguably brutalised children through its coercive policies especially in townships and rural areas. The propagandistic ambit of watered down projects of the SABC in the past, have been the result of programming policies for children that have been skewed under apartheid. The challenge now for public and private broadcasters alike, is to fulfil the requirements of the IBA Act and to develop programmes that entertain, educate and inform, [7] whilst correcting the exclusive practices of the past.

As stated before, children's responses to, and their consumption of, media remains under-researched in South Africa. The amount of time they spend watching television or listening to the radio is not monitored with any regularity, nor is the specific scheduling of their programmes analysed to determine their programme preferences.

The most relevant research conducted by the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) into the child audience was completed in August 1997. It was the first time that 12-15 year olds were reported on in such a focused and detailed way.

The SAARF research on 'tomorrow's adults' was the first of its kind to be released in 13 years. Mr Ron Silke, MD of SAARF, argues that "analysers of the report will no doubt spot many marketing and advertising opportunities to target this market'.

Under the apartheid system people were classified according to race, i.e., White, Indian, Coloured (sometimes grouped together, WIC) and Black. The Black group refers to African citizens. Research is still conducted this way.

The study concluded the following:

It is estimated that there is a population of 3.6 million 12-15 year olds (urban, rural, all races).

• 58% (2.1 million) listened to the radio 'yesterday' and 85% (3.1 million) in the 'last seven days'.
• 53% (1.95 million) watched TV 'yesterday' and 67% (2.45 million) in the 'last seven days'.
• 32% (1.18 million) read any magazine 'yesterday'.
• 14% (505,000) read any newspaper 'yesterday' (of whom 5% read any daily English or Afrikaans newspaper, and 12% read any weekly newspaper). [8]
• 12% (442,000) saw a film in a cinema in the 'past 12 weeks'.

Consumption can be grouped as follows:

Table 1. Media Use among 12•15 Year Olds, by Race


South Africa has a very low level of television penetration if compared to western democracies; however, within Africa, South Africa has a substantially high access level. It is estimated that of the 41 million citizens, there are about 8.5 million households of which 5.2 million have television sets. This equates to almost 62% of South African households having access to television. This will no doubt increase as housing, electrification and employment increases. It must be noted that access to television, computers and the Internet is largely concentrated in the White, Indian and Coloured groupings.

Television services


The public broadcaster, SABC, has three channels and delivers the bulk of its children's programming on SABC 1 and SABC 2. These programmes, though categorised separately for children and youth, do overlap substantially. In keeping with the policy of reconstruction and development, a considerable amount of work has gone into educational broadcasting. There is finally a concerted effort on the part of the restructured SABC to fulfil its mandate, to educate and inform children by providing both formal and informal knowledge building programmes.

Boputhutswana television (Bop TV), previously a 'homeland' broadcaster as set up during the apartheid government, is currently being incorporated into the SABC. It also broadcasts some children's programming as well as youth programming.


M-NET, the only private and subscription based television service offers its subscribers a dedicated 3 hours per day of children's programming known as KTV or Kids TV. M-NET can be received in 31 African states via digital satellite services.

According to the TBI Yearbook 1997, [9] the share of adult audiences are as follows:

Table 2. Television Channels' Share of Adult Audience


Radio services

While radio continues to play a major role in reaching a mass audience, and the radio landscape of South Africa has grown rapidly, there is not much dedicated children's service. Of the 75 community radio stations only a hand-full deliver programming specifically for children. The private radio services (currently 16) offer no scheduled children's programmes. The public broadcaster with its 16 radio services has a limited children's focus. According to a survey conducted recently, of the 12 full spectrum stations, there are at least five stations [10] delivering dedicated programming to children. The majority of these programmes are aired weekly (Saturday mornings ranging from 7am to 10am) with one station delivering programming from 3pm to 4pm each weekday. However, as stated before, the public broadcaster is beginning to address the educational needs of all South Africa's children in a more holistic way.

South African programme content

The most popular television programmes according to recent audience ratings are local (i.e., South African) programmes. However, across the three SABC channels and M-NET, the most popular children's programmes are American sitcoms and musical programmes. Although the percentage of local children's programming across all broadcasters has increased in the last two years, children and adults alike argue that these programmes should be more 'relevant' and less foreign. [11]

These audience ratings refer only to television programmes. The popularity and success of radio programmes for children is not well researched or documented.

Local and African advocacy for quality children's programmes

As a result of the First World Summit on Television and Children held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1995, a South African lobby group, known as the Children and Broadcasting Forum (CBF), was formed. This group is represented by a broad cross section of stakeholders and the public, and includes broadcasters, children's rights organisations, NGO's, the regulator, and several government line departments. The CBF seeks to place children's broadcasting issues on the national agenda and challenge broadcasters to address the broadcasting needs of children.

In 1996, the CBF organised a regional (Southern African) summit on children's broadcasting. The summit produced a regional charter, in keeping with the International Children's Television Charter (CTC), which focused on the regions' concerns. It was then agreed that an Africa summit be organised for wider dialogue and exchange so that Africa can develop a policy framework for children's broadcasting to prioritise the needs of Africa's children.

In October 1997, the first Africa Summit on Children's Broadcasting was held in Accra, Ghana, and an Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting was drafted and accepted (see under the headline International Declarations and Resolutions). The Charter is also written in the spirit of the CTC and is inclusive of radio as the widest broadcast medium in Africa.

In August 1995 the Independent Broadcasting Authority accepted the International Children's Television Charter and also committed to give further consideration to the protection of children. [12]

The CBF is currently campaigning for endorsements from African broadcasters and relevant stakeholders to support the Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting.

Africa will be represented at the Second World Summit on Children's Television (UK, March 1998), and a dedicated plenary session has been organised for the region.


I would like to thank Mr Ron Silke, MD of The South African Advertising Research Foundation, for his assistance.



1. Independent Broadcasting Authority Triple Inquiry Report, 1995.

2. Stated at the launch of the National Plan of Action (NPA), 1996.

3. RDP -- now disbanded as a ministry, but still has influence in each individual ministry.

4. Census figures are contentious and this figure could be much higher.

5. Government introduced a Youth Commission on June 16 1996 (Youth Day). This is a Statutory Body placed within the Office of the Deputy President.

6. My emphasis.

7. IBA Act -- Section 2.

8. Access to newspapers in the rural areas remains low and there are very few African language newspapers.

9. TBI -- Television Business International, Yearbook 1991, p. 301.

10. At the time this article was drafted, information about the following five stations were An Overview of Children's Broadcasting in South Africa recorded as doing programming for children: Ukhozi FM, Umhlobo Wenene, Lesedi FM, Thobela FM and Radio Locus.

11. Foreign programming refers to all programmes other than South African.

12. IBA Triple Inquiry Report, 1995.


IBA Act 153 of 1993.

IBA Position Paper for the introduction of the first free-to-air private television service in South Africa, May 13, 1997.

Independent Broadcasting Authority Triple Inquiry Report, South Africa, August 1995.

National Institute for Economic Policy (NIEP), Children, poverty and disparity reduction, South Africa, 1995.

NCRC and UNICEF, A National Programme of Action for Children in South Africa. An Outline, June 16, 1994.

Programme schedules of the SABC and M-NET, September 8-14, 1997.

Teenage Amps, SAARF 1997.

Television Business International, Yearbook 1997.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

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Children and the Media in Flanders: A Brief Overview


Belgium is probably the most cabled country in the world with 95% of households connected. Moreover, cabling began early: in 1972 almost 10% of households had already been connected, rising to almost half by 1975 and to almost 80% by 1980. The basic package offered to subscribers by the various cable providers normally consists of over 25 channels, and extra pay channels (e.g. for films and sport) are also widely available.

After a long process of decentralization, broadcasting in Belgium was completely devolved to the two main language communities -- French speaking Wallonia and Dutch speaking Flanders -- in 1991. At around this time there was a steady increase in the total number of hours broadcast by Flemish TV, mainly as a result of the arrival of a commercial channel in 1989. Thus, from roughly eleven-and-a-half hours of TV a day (spread across two public service channels) in 1988, the figure rose to over 24 hours a day (spread over three channels) in 1992. During this period the proportion of entertainment programmes also increased: from 67% to 79% on the commercial channel, and from 46% to 57% on the main public broadcast channel. Moreover, in each case, a disproportionate number of these programmes was broadcast during primetime hours (Tanghe & De Bens, 1993).

Between 1990 and 1993 the total output of programmes on Flemish TV rose by an average of almost a fifth on the two public service channels, and by a third on the commercial channel. During the same period fictional output rose by about 90% on the public service channels and by 53% on the commercial channel. As a percentage of total output, fiction rose from 26% to 40% on the main public service channel and from 42% to 48% on the commercial channel (Biltereyst, 1996; cf. Biltereyst, 1992; De Bens, 1991; Tanghe & De Bens, 1993). 64% of this fictional content was of North American origin -- an unusually high figure for Europe at the time -- followed by Australian, British and German material. However these figures conceal variations across channels, with as much as 83% of the fiction on the commercial channel originating from North America. Dutch-language fictional programmes (Flemish and from the Netherlands) are also very popular and tend to share prime-time slots with American programmes (Biltereyst, 1991).

According to recent figures (Blumler & Biltereyst, 1997), the two Flemish public broadcast channels devote a greater part of their total output time to children's programmes than the European average (15.2% compared to 9.5%). However, between 1991 and 1995 the percentage of self-produced children's programmes on these channels fell from 44.7% to 27.7%, the decline being accounted for by a corresponding increase in imported material, above all from the United States. Consequently, Flemish public broadcast TV now lies appreciably below the European average for self-produced children's TV (28% compared to 39%), and well above the European norm for imported American material (44% compared to 25%). Much of the American input is accounted for by Disney, with the result that cartoons make up 61% of Flemish public service children's programmes compared to an overall European average of 40% (Blumler & Biltereyst, 1997).

Children's TV-use

The first available figures of children's TV-use in Flanders (from 1978) indicated that Flemish children aged 4-11 years at that time watched TV for an average of 53 minutes a day, rising to 70 minutes a day in winter (seasonal variations in amount of TV-viewing remain large -- see Roe & Vandebosch, 1996). By the end of 1996 the figure for the 4-11-year-olds had risen to 114 minutes a day and stood at 112 minutes a day for the 12-17-year-old age group (BRTN, 1996). However, recently, there have been indications that children may now be watching less TV than formally. A comparison between average daily viewing time in December 1995 and December 1996 indicated a drop of 28 minutes a day for 4-11-year-olds and of 16 minutes a day for 12-17-year-olds (BRTN, 1996). The reasons for this drop are uncertain, but recent studies (e.g. Roe & Muijs, 1995; 1997) indicate that the widespread use of VCR's (Video Cassette Recorders) and computer games may be having a displacement effect on television use.

Young children (under 12) have traditionally reported a preference for public service TV. However, in recent years two new commercial channels (bringing the total to three commercial channels) have begun transmission and a recent study of 10-year-olds (Roe & Muijs, 1997) suggests that the majority now prefer commercial television. The results showed one of the new commercial channels (VT4) to be the most popular, followed by the original commercial channel (VTM), the other new commercial channel (KA2) in third place, the movie pay-TV channel Filmnet in fourth, and the main public broadcaster (TV1) ranking only fifth. However, despite the popularity of commercial television, advertising appears to be unpopular. In a recent study of Flemish 9-12-year-olds, Tritsmans (1997) found that many Flemish children are very negative to and critical of TV-advertising. Paradoxically, however, most nevertheless admit at least occasionally buying the products featured.

Music television

The music video channel MTV is very popular in Flanders. In a study of 12-18-year-olds Roe & Cammaer (1993) found that less than 2% stated that they knew nothing about MTV, while 73% were able to name at least 5 MTV programmes. A significant proportion were found to be regular MTV viewers: 26% watching on a daily basis, and a further 16% watching at least every other day. Only 10% reported never watching MTV and of these a third were unable to receive the channel.

Nevertheless, much MTV viewing appears to be sporadic. The study indicated that only 38% watch on a planned regular basis, with 75% usually using the remote control to 'zap' in (and out) of MTV more or less randomly to check what is on. Moreover, 40% regularly use MTV merely as background music while engaged in other activities -- mostly when reading, doing homework, eating and doing housework. Females tend to use MTV more as background than do males. There was a tendency for MTV viewing to increase with age, but amount of viewing was not significantly related to gender or to parents' socio-economic status. However, there was a negative correlation with school achievement (cf. Roe, 1983; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1992; 1993; 1995).

The same study indicated that the strongest motive for watching MTV is to hear the music, followed by 'relaxation', 'to relieve boredom', 'for information' and, 'to be able to talk to others about it'. Viewers were very familiar with the products advertised on MTV, with over 50% able to name three regular advertisers and, unlike the younger viewers in Tristman's study, the teenagers in Roe & Cammaers' were not particularly negative with regard to advertising. 59% agreed that there is just about enough advertising on MTV, compared to 37% who thought that there was too much. Moreover, 61% usually stay tuned during commercial breaks, compared to 27% who 'zap' away from the channel, and 12% who leave the set for some reason during advertising spots.

Gender and socio-cultural background

In the most recent major study of Flemish children's media use (10 year olds), Roe & Muijs (1997) found that a mere 0.7% live in households without a TV-set, compared to 49% living in homes with one, 37% with two, and 13% with 3 or more. Moreover 18% have a TV of their own (in their own room). 88% of the children lived in homes with a VCR, 51% with a personal computer and 72% had access to a computer game console.

The mean amount of TV-viewing was just over 15 hours a week. 68% watched TV on every school day and a further 14% watched on 4 days out of 5. The mean amount of time spent viewing at weekends was around 4 and three-quarter hours. In general boys watch significantly more television than do girls. Schoolday TV-viewing is greatest among those having fathers in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and less well educated mothers, and is lowest among those with fathers in the professions and whose mothers are highly educated. At the weekend, it is the children of service and sales workers, the unemployed and less well educated mothers who watch most and the children of professionals and mothers with a university education who watch least. On schooldays the average time at which viewing stops is ten past eight, with 14% continuing to watch TV after 9 p.m. The children of unskilled fathers and less well educated mothers tend to watch the latest and the children of clerks and university educated women stop viewing the earliest.

The most popular type of programme amongst Flemish 10-year-olds is comedy, followed by films, cartoons, and police/action series. The least popular are advertising, talk shows, information programmes, and science/technology programmes. However, there are strong gender differences in the structure of preferences (for more see Roe & Muijs, 1997; cf. Muijs, 1997). In terms of programmes actually watched, the most viewed categories are cartoons, followed by films and comedy.

13% used a VCR on 5 days a week or more. The mean amount of video viewing per day was 1 hour and 36 minutes. As with TV, boys use the VCR more than do girls. The children of unskilled and semi-skilled workers and less well educated mothers watch most video and children whose fathers are in the professions and whose mothers have received a university education watch least.

The most popular video genre is action, followed by comedy, karate, crime thrillers and westerns. The least popular are music videos, classic films, war films and sports videos. As with television, there are strong gender differences with regard to video preferences. In general there were no clear relationships between video preferences and socio-economic background, although, interestingly, the highest ratings for horror and action videos were given by those with university educated mothers, a result that can perhaps best be explained in terms of the 'forbidden fruit' mechanism.

Children whose fathers are professionals and whose mothers are university educated are most likely to live in a home containing a personal computer. 18% play computer games 5 days a week or more and the mean amount of time per day spent playing is just over an hour a day. 8% were classified as very heavy users (i.e. 3 hours a day or more). Boys play significantly more than girls. The children of unskilled and semi-skilled fathers and less well educated mothers play most and those with fathers working in agriculture and the professions and with university educated mothers play the least. The most popular game genres are platform games [1] followed by 'fighting' games.

Media use, literacy and school achievement

In the Roe & Muijs study media use was also related to literacy (reading comprehension and spelling) and school achievement: After controlling for gender and socio-economic status, amount of VCR use and amount of computer game playing were found to be negatively related to reading and spelling ability. However, contrary to conventional wisdom television use did not emerge in an especially bad light. Amount of TV-viewing was related to spelling and reading ability (though not to overall school achievement), but the relationship is not linear. On both the spelling and reading tests those watching least TV scored below average while those watching most TV scored best of all. It was the second highest viewing group, rather than the very heavy viewers that scored the least.

Consequently, with regard to any postulated negative effects, it was concluded that, rather than pointing the accusing finger at TV-viewing, parents and teachers should concern themselves more with heavy VCR use and, in particular, with heavy computer game playing -- with which a significant and consistent pattern of negative relationships is beginning to emerge (Roe & Muijs, 1995; 1997).

Multiple mediating factors

One of the most important lessons of Flemish research into children's media use is the central role played by a number of mediating variables. Almost all studies indicate the importance of gender in differentiating all aspects of the media use of children. Most also stress the importance of socio-economic background in general and, in recent studies, the education of the mother in particular. In the past researchers have tended to concentrate on occupational status (and usually only on that of the father) in their analyses of media use. Future research needs to give far more consideration to the role of educational status (and in particular that of the mother). The importance of cognitive, social and biological development for all aspects of children's media use must also be taken into account. The nature, extent and meanings of media use change quickly as children pass through various developmental phases. Consequently, forms of media use which are typical, appropriate and functional at one stage of development may be atypical, inappropriate and dysfunctional at others.

It follows that in all discussions of 'children and media use', it is essential to bear all of these mediating factors in mind. Five-year-olds are not like fifteen-year-olds, the media use of boys and girls -- especially in interaction with socio-economic background and ethnic context -- differs significantly in almost all important respects, the nature of children's understanding of media contents changes as they get older, and their experiences in school structure their media use in important ways. Thus, without first carefully specifying the age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, level of cognitive development, and educational achievement (to name only the most important factors) of children, it is impossible to make any meaningful generalizations concerning 'children and the media'; indeed, it is probably dangerously misleading even to try.



1. Platform games, also known as platformers, are one of the most widely available computer formats. The main character moves from one level to another, more difficult, level (and so on) which are set in different decors. The 'sprite' (character) continually has to dodge falling object, holes, and enemies (who have to be fought) and often has to jump from one cloud, rock etc. to another. The character typically moves from left to right on the screen.

Platform games contain significantly less (graphic) violence than game types such as 'shoot em-ups', 'bear-em-ups' and 'slash-em-ups', are less difficult and more action oriented than puzzle games, and have less sophisticated scripts and less puzzles than role playing and adventure games. They also appear to have less street credibility than the above-mentioned games, and are sometimes considered childish by older (adolescent) users.

The characters are often drawn in the manner of humorous cartoons (as opposed to the more realistic depiction of characters in adventure games and fighting games), and a lot of cartoon based computer games (such as Bugs Bunny, Rabbit Rampage) are of this format. The most well-known games in this format are the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog series, signature games of Nintendo and Sega.


Biltereyst, D. (1991). 'Resisting American Hegemony: A Comparative Analysis of The Reception of Domestic and U.S. Fiction.' European Journal of Communication. 6.4. 469-497.

Biltereyst, D. (1992). 'Fictie op de vlaamse televisie: een kwantitatief onderzoek van her aanbod, de programmering en de consumptie.' Communicatie. 21.4. 1-20.

Biltereyst, D. (1996). 'Europees audiovisueel beleid en de beperkte interne stroom van tv-programma's.' Communicatie. 25.2. 3-26.

Biltereysr, D. & Blumler, J. (1997). 'Kinderprogramma's en de europese publieke omroep.' Onderzoeksrapporr. Departement Communicatiewetenschap. Catholic University of Leuven.

BRTN. (1996). Kijk-en Luisteronderzoek. December. Brussel.

De Bens, E. (199 I). 'Flanders In The Spell of Commercial Television.' European Journal of Communication. 6.2. 235-244.

Muijs, D. (1997). Self, School and Media: A Longitudinal Study of Media Use, Self-Concept, School Achievement and Pi/r Relations Among Primary School Children. Department of Communication Science. Catholic University of Leuven.

Roe, K. (1983). Mass Media and Adolescent Schooling: Conflict or Co-Existence? Stockholm. Almqvist & Wiksell International.

Roe, K. (1987). 'The School and Music In Adolescent Socialization'. In, J. Lull (Ed.), Popular Music and Communication. Newbury Park. Sage.

Roe, K. (1989). 'School Achievement, Self-Esteem and Adolescents' Video use.' In, M. Levy (Ed.), The VCR Age: Home Video and Mass Communication. Newbury Park. Sage.

Roe, K. (1992). 'Different Destinies -- Different Melodies: School Achievement, Anticipated Status and Adolescents' Tastes In Music.' European Journal of Communication. 7.3. 335-258.

Roe, K. (1993). 'Academic Capital and Music Tastes Among Swedish Adolescents.' Young: The Nordic Journal of Youth Research. 1 .3.40-55.

Roe, K. (1995). 'Adolescents' Use of Socially Disvalued Media: Towards A Theory of Media Delinquency.' Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 24.5. 617-631.

Roe, K. & Cammaer, G. (1993). 'Delivering The Young Audience To Advertisers: Music Television and Flemish Youth.' Communications: The European Journal of Communication. 18.2. 169- 178.

Roe, K. & Lofgren, M. (1988). 'Music Video Use and Educational Achievement'. Popular Music. 7.3. 303-314.

Roe, K. & Muijs, D. (1995). Literacy In The Media Age: Results From The First Wave of A Longitudinal Study of Children's Media Use and Educational Achievement. Research Report. Dept. of Communication. Catholic University of Leuven.

Roe, K. & Muijs, D. (1997). Literacy In The Media Age: Results From The Second Wave of A Longitudinal Study of Children's Media Use and Educational Achievement. Research Report. Dept. of Communication. Catholic University of Leuven.

Roe, K. & Vandebosch, H. (1996). 'Weather To View or Not': That is The Question.' European Journal of Communication. 11.2. 201-216.

Tanghe, K. & De Bens, E. (1993). 'Televisie in Vlaanderen: de invloed van de commercialisering op her programma-aanbod.' Communicatie. 23.3. 28-48.

Tritsmans, M. (1997). Reclame Rond Kinderprogramma's. Eindverhandeling. Departement Communicatiewetenschap. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:13 am

Media in the World

The Global Audio-Visual Media Landscape


UNICEF commissioned Robert Lamb, Director of Television Trust for the Environment (TVE), to conduct studies on the development in audio-visual media. One study was reported in The Bigger Picture: Audio-visual survey and recommendations, February 1997, copyright© United Nations Children's Fund, March 1997. With the permission of UNICEF, we here reproduce Preface, Executive summary, Chapter 1: Main Findings, and Methodology and Sources from the report (whereas Chapter 2: Survey of the Television Broadcasting Landscape 1997-2000 and Chapter 3:Author's Endnote are omitted due to lack of space).


You would have to be a modern-day Rip van Winkle to be surprised when told that television is by far the world's powerful mass medium. But you might raise an eyebrow to find out that in 1996 for every ten households on the planet there are seven television sets. Half the world may never have made a telephone call, but the vast majority of humankind now sees television.

Love it or hate it, anyone who is involved in development communications must come to terms with television. Three years ago, UNICEF commissioned Robert Lamb, Director of TVE to conduct a study and make recommendations to UNICEF on how we should be responding to the bewildering pace of development in the audio visual media. UNICEF has fared well by applying a number of those recommendations. But at risk of being overwhelmed by the demands the industry is making upon the organization and unclear about the implications of the digital revolution and all the talk of 'techno-convergence', we commissioned TVE to conduct two more studies: one on the International Children's Day of Broadcasting, the other, an up-date by Robert Lamb of his study of three years ago that attempts to sketch out the likely developments to the end of the century.

In UNICEF's view, the findings and recommendations are of relevance to other organizations committed to keeping the global public tuned into sustainable development. The Bigger Picture draws on the latest industry surveys and benefits from canvassing the views of television executives, producers and distributors. To all those who spared the time to answer TVE's questionnaires and to meet with the researchers, UNICEF extends its gratitude and thanks.

It was no simple task UNICEF set for TVE. It was to take a global view, stare into a crystal ball and detect trends that are relevant to an organization like UNICEF. Unsurprisingly, for every rule, an exception can be found. For example, an executive in an Asian satellite service found that our output was far too controversial while a European producer found the material to be far too bland! Notwithstanding caveats like these, certain global trends are discernible. The main finding is that television is going in two directions at the same time: re-inforcing its position as the quintessential mass medium while providing an outlet for diversity through the myriad of new speciality channels.

The Bigger Picture demystifies a lot of the jargon and is therefore easy reading for the non-specialist. Colleagues in national, international and NGO development assistance agencies will find much information that is useful in deciding how modest budgets can be deployed for maximum impact. I commend the document to you and look forward to receiving any comments you may have.

Morten Giersing
UNICEF, New York
February 1997

Executive summary

• The 1990s have seen television extend its dominance as the global mass medium. Virtually everywhere, television is now cited as the public's first source of information. Seven out every ten households in the world possess a television set -- three quarters are outside the OECD countries.
• Television is growing both as a mass and a minority medium. Non-broadcast organizations with a brief to raise awareness of environment and development are presented with new opportunities to tailor their messages to special interest groups, women, children and youth as well as to mass audiences. But as the numbers of channels multiply with digitisation, the demands on poorly financed information divisions will increase exponentially with diminishing returns in terms of the numbers of people reached.
• With extraordinarily few exceptions, the pattern of prime-time television viewing is similar throughout the world -- entertainment, live action, sports and news broadcasts. With public service broadcasting on the wane throughout the world, tapping the mass media potential of television means staying in touch with the needs of increasingly ratings-conscious decision-makers in the industry and the independent producers with a strong track-record in delivering popular programming.
• Despite the flourishing of new national services, western television news agencies are the dominant suppliers of, and agenda- setters for, international news and current affairs. Development assistance agencies could take cost-effective steps to increase global coverage in the only factual programming sector scheduled in prime-time on major national TV networks.
• On a strict ratings criterion, development assistance agencies should end their involvement in documentary co-production. But with a rigorous set of rules applied, there remains a strong case for continued involvement in documentary production.
• Children and youth are major targets for the schedulers, but traditionally not of the development assistance agencies. Virtually everywhere expenditures and broadcast hours for children's television are on the increase.
• The new multi-media platforms (CD-ROM, Internet) are not so widely used yet to justify any special effort by the international development agencies.
• Through an out-sourcing strategy, advocacy agencies should be maximising the use of the new non-linear editing and digital cameras to satisfy viewers' preference for home-made and customised programming.
• The biggest-selling consumer item in the world is not the PC but the colour television set. The development of broadcasting mirrors the globalisation of the world economy. Driven by the requirements of advertisers, the first target of providers in the developing world are the middle classes and those that aspire to that status.
• The replacement of the analogue by the digital signal is already happening. But the two technologies will co-exist. The much vaunted second electronic revolution will be a staggered process.
• What viewers watch and when is decided by the schedulers. Despite all the noise about interactive television putting viewers in the driving seat, little has changed. Change will take place first in well-off households with children. Interactive TV is at the experimental stage. Until a simple, affordable tool along the lines of a hand-held remote control comes on the market, interactive TV will remain the plaything of the techno-boffins. The vast majority of viewers could not care less about technology. Unless the advantages are manifestly clear they will stick to what they already have. Meanwhile, most viewers continue to tune into the established national broadcasters.
• Transmission of live events -- especially sports events -- popular drama and soaps, natural history films and blockbuster movies are how the networks have kept their mass audience share.
• Direct-to-home broadcasting by satellite and the VCR have broken governments' restrictions over what their people watch, but not as radically as many suppose.

Main Findings (Chapter 1)

Television: the pre-eminent global medium

The 1990s have seen television extend its dominance as the global mass medium. Virtually everywhere, television is now cited as the public's first source of information. Seven out every ten households in the world possess a television set -- three quarters are outside the OECD countries.

With at least one television set for every six people on the planet, television broadcasting is the single most important means for development assistance agencies to deliver messages to a global public. Only a handful of small countries are without a domestic broadcaster. But every country is under the footprint of one or another satellite broadcaster. Even in many low income countries, television is no longer a medium for the middle classes alone. According to the International Telecommunications Union, the global information industry generated US $1,425 billion world-wide of which about US $300 billion in 1994 was accounted for by the audiovisual sector.

This paper finds that the trends outlined by TVE in a 1994 UNICEF-sponsored study are being realized. The channel expansion, hours of television watched and increase in television ownership have been truly astonishing -- a 100 per cent increase since the end of the 1980s. The single biggest-selling consumer product in the world is the colour television set. According to Philips, 105 million colour television sets were sold world-wide in 1995.

In 1995 the average American spent more time watching television than listening to the radio, surfing the Internet, reading newspapers or listening to recorded music put together. This is not exceptional -- a Pole spends more time watching television than an American; a Malaysian as much as a Dane, or an Italian as much as a Turk.

Virtually every household in the industrialised world owns one or more television sets, with Asia fast catching up. Most remarkable is the rapid expansion in the low income countries where television is frequently watched by communities larger than individual households. There is one TV set for every three homes in India where it is estimated that over 400 million people watched the Hindu series, the Ramayana. Vietnam's ownership per household is predicted to rise from 37 per cent now to over 70 per cent in just two years. In China, television is in at least 280 million homes, with 60,000 colour television sets being bought each day.

World-wide one in five households are hooked up to cable or satellite television. One in four households owns a video recorder. In schools and colleges -- every educational institution in Botswana is equipped with a VCR -- video is an essential educational aid. Increasingly civil society organizations use video for campaigning and awareness raising.

The pattern of expansion in television and VCR ownership is repeated in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Arab-speaking countries. Only in the shanty-towns and rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa is television not expected to develop into a mass medium by 2000.

The most unexpected finding is that globalisation of the economy is not for the most part being played out in the content of programming. Most of the 1.6 billion or so TV sets are showing home-grown programming in national languages. "Everywhere, the demand is for local programming in local languages", is a recent comment by Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corporation.

TVE finds there is an overwhelming case for development assistance organizations to invest more resources in television within a strategy designed to utilise the 'points of leverage' in broadcasting.

The broadcasting paradox

Television is growing both as a mass and a minority medium. Non-broadcast organizations with a brief to raise awareness of environment and development are presented with new opportunities to tailor their messages to special interest groups, women, children and youth as well as to mass audiences. But as the numbers of channels multiply with digitisation, the demands on poorly financed information divisions will increase exponentially with diminishing returns in terms of the numbers of people reached.

One of the most important findings of this study is the success of national broadcasters in holding on to the majority of viewers.

This applies to every country, poor or prosperous, regardless of how many channels are available via cable, direct-to-home satellite, wireless cable or terrestrial transmission via the spectrum.

In Germany, five broadcasters account for three quarters of the audience share. Mexico's four Televisa channels account for 80 per cent of the viewers. The three SABC channels take 83 per cent of the viewers in South Africa. In the UK the four main channels have a 90 per cent share. Even in the USA, with a longer exposure to multi-channel television than any other country, 70 per cent of prime-time viewing is on the four main networks.

On a global measurement, the audience share of the transcontinental broadcasters is feeble by comparison. Satellite up-linked television received direct-to-home or relayed by cable has only succeeded where it has customised its output for domestic audiences. A prime example is Zee TV. Offering a menu of slick programming aimed at a youthful up-market Indian viewership, it claims an audience of 80 million on the sub-continent.

Advertising drives the US $300 billion global television industry. And advertisers are finding it worth their while to reach for niche audiences via the themed channels.

The development of these speciality channels is the phenomenon of the 1990s. Operating on slim budgets, their demand for programming to fit their brief will increase geometrically as digitisation takes place. This development could distract agencies seeking to reach the biggest audiences.

Aid and development agencies should consider prioritising in a draconian fashion, targeting the national networks and broadcasters/producers with a successful proven track record of high ratings and successful international sales.

What are viewers watching?

With extraordinarily few exceptions, the pattern of prime-time viewing is similar throughout the world -- entertainment, live action, sports and news broadcasts. With public service broadcasting on the wane throughout the world, tapping the mass media potential of television means staying in touch with the needs of increasingly ratings-conscious decision-makers in the television industry and the independent producers with a strong track-record in delivering popular programming.

Live events -- especially sports -- home-made popular drama (telenovelas, soaps etc.), and blockbuster movies are how the national networks have retained their audience share.

Despite all the predictions of convergence and interactivity, television viewing remains a passive activity. The key players are the schedulers, programme commissioners and a handful of highly-regarded production companies -- an elite group who decide what viewers will see and when. These are the quintessential points of leverage in the industry who number in their hundreds.

Through their pathway to mass audiences they can powerfully influence decision-making. A myth is that by reaching policy/decision-makers with tailored programming, policies will be changed to favour sustainable development. Programmes that warrant prime-time coverage, generating national debate involving the general public must be the main target for organizations seeking to influence decision-makers.

With the public service ethic in broadcasting in steep decline, television is increasingly a world of cut-throat competition with tabloid formats becoming ever more popular. Almost exclusively stations are concerned with ratings or with targeting the special interest categories. They are especially concerned to attract youthful (14-30 years) viewers.

Encouragingly, this report finds there is a fund of goodwill among the commissioners for organizations like UNICEF that implement a sophisticated audiovisual policy. Its work in the field of animation, the professionalism of its ad spots and B Rolls and experience in brokering co-productions, give organizations like UNICEF a sound basis on which to achieve more coverage.

TVE recommends that staying in touch with the elite decision-makers in television, being sympathetic to their needs, providing stories and contacts and, from time to time, start-up to-finance, should be the priority for any agency seeking to step up coverage on television. Sympathetic tabloid TV journalists should be sought out. Agencies should give priority to maintaining a television VIP listing and to nurturing these contacts on an individual basis. Given the dominant share of English-speaking programming in the international sales market, special attention should be paid to the North American and UK commissioners.

The factual exception

Despite the flourishing of new national services, Western television news agencies are the dominant suppliers of, and agenda-setters for, international news and current affairs. Development assistance agencies could take cost-effective steps to increase global coverage in the only factual programming sector scheduled in prime-time on major national TV networks.

A recent study of news coverage in a cross-section of 35 countries found that the hegemony of the Western television news agencies is even greater than when UNESCO sponsored the New World Information Order in the 1970s.

A European Union sponsored survey found that 80 per cent of the public in the EU cite television news and current affairs programming as their primary source of information. Thematic magazine programmes also make the prime-time schedules.

The two most frequent pleas among news and current affairs editors contacted during this study were: topical story-led items that respect editorial independence and stories that try to be relevant to national audiences. Though national TV services focus mostly on domestic and near-neighbour stories, they rely heavily on the big three London based agencies (two USA owned) for international coverage. These agencies also supply the 30 or so successful satellite news broadcasters like CNN, BBC World and Deutsche Welle. About 90 per cent of the world's non-domestic generated news items pass through London.

The multi-media environment enables non-broadcast organizations to plan integrated television, radio and print campaigns. A possible model is one TV agency's highly professional Global Beltway which combines television news features, regional tailoring, stills and on-screen information.

Bi-lateral agencies or international organizations with a need to communicate to a particular country or region should work with national broadcasters. The most effective means to achieve global coverage is via the international TV news agencies. The route preferred by most broadcasters is via trusted independent producers.

The documentary conundrum

On a strict ratings criterion, development assistance agencies should end their involvement in documentary co-production. But with a rigorous set of rules applied, there remains a strong case for continued involvement in documentary production.

Documentaries have all but disappeared from the prime-time scheduling of major national broadcasters, including the public service broadcasters who have been forced to go downmarket in the ratings wars. But the tabloid format does not necessarily mean any loss in quality of coverage.

One-off documentaries and series in a tabloid as well as a blue chip format can still have a measurable impact on public opinion in inverse proportion to the numbers who see the programmes. There is also a significant international sales market not least because this kind of factual programming has 'shelf-life' and can be customised to meet national and regional broadcasters' requirements. Series and other forms of 'bulk' programming are most in demand, with single 'one off' documentaries difficult to place. The success of the Discovery Channel throughout the world is based on repackaging to suit national/regional audience preferences. Crucially, the documentary format can also be edited to meet cultural and religious sensitivities.

New technologies -- digital hi-8 cameras and non-linear editing equipment -- also offer the opportunity for the independent producer to make programmes to international broadcast standard at a fraction of the cost of a decade ago. The new digitised programme- making hardware and channels may yet offer the best hope for consistent and fearless in-depth coverage of environment and development.

TVE proposes that agencies should only support documentary production when all or most of the following criteria are fulfilled: commissions are within programme strands with proven above average audience ratings for factual programming; themes are directly relevant to their mission; co-production involving at least one or more major broadcaster; submission of promotional and distribution work plans; generous rights assignment to the agency for international distribution in whole or in part, in perpetuity.

The only exceptions should be: when the agency has a pressing policy need to see a programme broadcast in a particular country and/or territory; coverage of a subject (for example water or sanitation) with little media potential but which accords with an agency priority (there will always be reason for advocacy organizations to swim against the media tide).

Reaching the younger viewer

Children and youth are major targets for the schedulers, but traditionally not of the development assistance agencies. Virtually everywhere expenditures and broadcast hours are on the increase.

There is a case to be made that far too little effort has gone into supporting programming aimed at 10-30 year olds. There is persuasive evidence that the best way to reach adults is through the younger family members -- especially in cultures where family viewing is the norm. Children's news programme commissioners, for example, are far less resistant to directly featuring the work of an agency.

The needs of the child and youthful viewer are wildly different to adult programming. The Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly recognises the right to children's self-expression.

A recent survey of 62 broadcasters revealed that by far the biggest expenditures and audiences were achieved by the national broadcasters. Just five countries -- France, Australia, Canada, UK and the USA -- dominated the international sales market for children and youth programming.

Most popular are live events and animations. Magazine programmes featuring young presenters and fast-moving on-site formats are avidly watched by youthful audiences. In the contacts made during the research for the two UNICEF-commissioned studies, TVE found that the producers of children and youth programming were the category most open to new ideas.

Preliminary contacts made during this survey indicate that an investment in human and financial resources to this fast-expanding area would pay dividends not only in reaching the next generation of decision-makers but in using their influence with parents to alter lifestyles and pay more attention to environment and development issues.

Multi-media and all that

The new multi-media platforms are not so widely used yet to justify any special effort by the international funders In the global perspective, multi-media applications -- CD-Rom, PC games etc. -- are the playthings of relatively few better-off households. TVE found that the 'hype' surrounding the Internet, multi-media, 'techno-convergence' and so on was distracting attention (and scarce resources) away from the fact that tiny numbers actually know how to use the new interactive platforms.

Organizations like UNICEF risk losing sight of the bigger picture if they were to decide to invest in interactive software production. Their role should be confined to selling imagery and information only to the producers of multi-media software.

Digitisation and new developments such as Web-TV or video-on-demand (VoD) may usher in the much talked about interactive television revolution (i.e. the television, telephone and PC as an integrated unit). But no company has yet put on the market an affordable navigator to bring an end to the era of passive viewing.

Nor is there any evidence of any strong demand from the viewers. A RAI working paper to the October 1996 United Nations World Television Forum states: "...despite around thirty VoD experiments world-wide, involving thousands of families, the results have not suggested great commercial potential."

TVE's findings are that it will be the end of the century possibly later -- before the development assistance community needs to develop a strategy in this area.

TVE recommends that involvement with multi-media be restricted to the start up of an Internet film catalogue. As the decade draws to a close, the on-line catalogue will become a major vehicle for promoting co-productions and independently made audio-visual software on themes relevant to agencies' mission.

Utilising the new programme-making technologies

Through an out-sourcing strategy, advocacy agencies should be maximising the use of the new non-linear editing and digital cameras to satisfy viewers' preference for homemade and customised programming.

The findings of TVE's two surveys, the pattern of demand for programming featured in its six Moving Pictures catalogues, as well as five regional television workshops convened by TVE since 1994, indicate that in order to make an impact, a systematic versioning policy must be introduced to satisfy national audience preferences.

New technological developments render this a cost effective objective. Programmes can be versioned (e.g. voice dubbing, sub- titling, video introductions, insertion of local stories etc.) at relatively little cost. One instance is the Spanish versioning of 12 TVE Moving Pictures programmes for US $7000 in Mexico.

Agencies such as WWF and UNICEF report great success with video news releases and 'B' roll tapes that enable stations to make their own versions. But as one Dutch producer told us, TV stations are 'lazy' and 'overworked'. They are far more likely to use video programmes if an effort is made to customise the output.

The TVE/ICDB evaluation showed that, with a few exceptions, hard-pressed field offices of even a well organized and funded organization like UNICEF cannot be expected to undertake this task. But throughout the world, there are facilities houses and broadcasters highly practised in customising programming. Crucially, a decentralised approach enables an organization to tailor the output to accord with national and regional cultural and religious sensitivities. Drawing on TVE's own experience, far more trust should be placed in indigenous producers in the South and economies in transition to make and version programming to meet local preferences. If necessary quality control can be exercised by tried and trusted independent production outfits.

Organizations with a public advocacy mission should set aside an element of its annual information budget to finance versioning. More effort should go into tapping production capacities in the non-OECD countries.

Methodology and Sources

The research for this survey was conducted by TVE's director, Robert Lamb over a six-week period (October/November 1996).

TVE reviewed the latest publications:

Zenith Media Television in Europe and Asia to 2005; Zenith Media, Bridge House, London, 1996 Television Business International (TBI) Yearbook 1997; 21st Century Publications, Pearson Professional Ltd., London, 1996.

Screen Digest, Screen Digest Ltd.; London, published monthly.

The Digital Broadcast Revolution; Broadcasting Corporation, London.

Interactive TV A Revolution in Global Broadcasting; Financial Times, Corporation, London, 1996.

Extending Choice in the Digital Age; British Broadcasting Corporation, London, 1996.

Study on the Introduction of Terrestrial Television; Convergent Decisions Group, The Mews, Putney Common, London, 1996.

Television in a Changing World; RAI Working Papers -- 4 vols -- for UN TV Forum, November 1996. Watching the World - Television and Audience Engagement with Developing Countries (Third World and Environment Broadcasting Project), International Broadcasting Trust, London, 1996.

References are made in the text to other published sources. TVE conducted person-to-person meetings and telephone interviews with over 80 key players in the television industry and sent our over 150 questionnaires.

TVE drew upon its ICDB (International Children's Day of Broadcasting) Evaluation of June 1996.

TVE also contacted over 40 Video Resource Centres (VRCs) in the South and NIS countries.


• Television and Video
• Children's & Youth's Television Programmes
• Abbreviations - Television
• Cinema Screens
• Personal Computers and Internet Users
• Telephone Main Lines and Internet Host Computers
• Interactive Entertainment Software Retail Sales Value
• Radio Broadcast Stations and Radio Possessions
• Book Titles Published
• International Entertainment Companies (Top 50)

Table 1. Television and Video (1996)






Table 2. Children's & Youth's Television Programmes (1996)



Table 3. Cinema Screens


Table 4. Personal Computers and Internet Users (1994)


Table 5. Telephone Main Lines and Internet Host Computers (1996)


Table 6. Interactive Entertainment Software Retail Sales Value (in Europe and USA 1992-1996, US $1,000)


Table 7. Radio Broadcast Stations and Radio Possessions







Table 8. Book Titles Published







Table 9. International Entertainment Companies (Top 50) (ranked by 1996-97 revenue)



Global Interactive Entertainment: Big Growth in Spending (1997) Screen Digest, February.

Human Development Report 1997 (1997) The United Nations Development Programme. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

International Telecommunication Union (1997) Pressrelease no. 15, 7 September.

Peers, M. & Goldner, D. (1997) The Global 50. Merger Mania Shuffles Rankings. Supplement to Variety, August 25-31.

TBI Yearbook 97 (1996) Television Business International. London: 21st Century Business Publications.

UNESCO Statistical Yearbook '96 (1997) Paris: UNESCO.

The World Factbook 1996 (1997) Web site: Washington: CIA.

World Cinema Market: Start of the European Fightback (1997) Screen Digest, August.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

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Children in the World


• Number of Children in Different Regions
• Children in Different Regions - Percentage of total population
• Demographic Indicators
• Education
• Working Children

Figure 1. Number of Children in Different Regions (1995)Source: The State of the World's Children 1997, UNICEF.


Table 1. Children in Different Regions - Percentage of total population (1995)


Table 2. Demographic Indicators (1995)







Table 3. Education







Table 4. Working Children (1995)

According to new estimates, there are some 250 million children 5-14 years old who are toiling in economic activity in developing countries. For close to one-half of them (or 120 million), this work is carried out on a full time basis, while for the remaining one-half it is combined with schooling or other non-economic activities. Among school going children, up to one-third of the boys (33%) and more than two-fifths (42%) of the girls are also engaged in economic activities on a part-time basis.

The overall estimates of 250 million working children are exclusive of children who are engaged in regular non-economic activities, including those who provide services of domestic nature on a full-time basis in their own parent's or guardian's households.

Distribution of Economically Active Children 5-14 Years of Age in Developing Countries, by Region and Sex (1995)


... Working Children

Economic Activity Participation Rate of Children 5-14 Years of Age, by Region and Sex (1995)



Ashagrie, K. (1997) Statistics on Working Children and Hazardous Child Labour in Brief. Internal document draft for discussion. Geneva: International Labor Organization (ILO).

The State of the World's Children (1996) New York: UNICEF.

World Population Prospects: The 1994 Revision (1995) 145 Population Studies.New York: United Nations.
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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

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Children's Participation in the Media

Some Examples

There are many ways to improve the image of children in media contents and to facilitate children's right to express themselves through the media. One way is to offer children the chance to participate in the media -- in the programmes, films, texts, on the Internet, etc. -- and to give them the opportunity to be active in the media production process. This section contains a few practical examples -- by no means exhaustive -- of how this can be done. The Clearinghouse is interested in collecting and publishing comments and articles on positive and practical experiences of active child participation in the media world-wide. We hope that the following examples will inspire persons and organisations engaged in other projects related to children's media participation to contact us about them. We also hope that the examples will encourage new initiatives.

UNICEF Media Activities for Children

In recent years, UNICEF has developed ways of approaching children directly to solicit their opinions and engage them in discussion on development issues. A number of initiatives, outlined below, have involved the participation of children from industrialized and developing countries in meaningful dialogue and activities that enhance their awareness of global issues and increase their capacity to take action in appropriate ways. These initiatives strongly encourage child participation and challenge children to take an active part in exploring and discussing issues that affect their future.

World Wide Web

In 1995, the Voices of Youth (VOY) site on the World Wide Web was launched at the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) in Copenhagen, where it was an immediate success. It introduces children to child rights issues, and encourages them to express their views. Children from all over the world responded to the invitation to come forward with questions for government delegates attending the Summit.

After the Summit, we decided to continue VOY as a worldwide forum for children to express their views and dialogue on issues of development, peace and justice, and in particular those issues affecting their own lives. VOY is a good example of how today's technology can be used to bring young people together in a meaningful dialogue about issues that concern them. Indeed, the VOY website has just been chosen as one of "Seven Super Sites of the Month" by Kids' Space, a children's web magazine with readers in 124 countries, which chooses web sites that inspire children to learn and discover the world. For further information, contact Voices of Youth online at or Web site,


My City is an interactive animated CD-ROM game jointly funded by UNICEF and the Canadian government. The players, who Children's Participation in the Media become mayors of their city for a day, encounter a series of social and cultural issues based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As mayors, they must decide how to respond to each of these issues. They are given a budget at the start of their tenure, and a popularity meter indicates the success or otherwise of their policies with the voting public. The aim is for the mayor to stay in office without losing resources and popularity as she/he responds to the issues presented. The game encourages awareness and discussion of problems encountered by youth around the world, and encourages them to act on similar problems in their own communities.


Participation in the International Children's Day of Broadcasting has grown from around 50 broadcasters in 1992 to over 2,000 in 1996. More remarkable than the numbers however, is the extent to which broadcasters throughout the world have become involved in the Day, and have taken its message to heart. An increasing number of broadcasters are devoting an entire day or week to children. Many participating broadcasters have trained children to produce their own programmes, and make documentaries on violations of children's rights.

Another interesting aspect of the Day is the selection of a theme of special concern each year. Through the theme in 1996 of violence in the media, we were able to draw attention to the International Children's Television Charter, which rejects "gratuitous scenes of violence and sex", and is specifically aligned with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1994 saw the creation of a special International Emmy award to honour the broadcaster whose participation in the Day is judged the most outstanding.

In 1997 the International Children's Day of Broadcasting was celebrated on Sunday, December 14. For further information, contact the ICDB website at http://www.


In November 1997, UNICEF launched the Meena Communication Initiative, a new regional effort whose goal is to change the lives of girls in South Asia, a region where discrimination is rife. The protagonist is Meena, a ten-year-old girl who must overcome a series of obstacles in her quest to exercise her rights. As she does so, the series explores the implications of girls' development for the community as a whole.

The project takes the form of a multimedia package comprising a 12-episode animated film series, a 15-part radio series on the BBC's Urdu, Bengali, Hindi and Nepali World Services, documentaries, comic books, posters, folk media and various other materials. Meena will not only be carried on TV and radio, but the concept will also be integrated into school curricula throughout South Asia, and special kits will be made available to non-profit organizations working on behalf of girls in the region.

In Africa, UNICEF has launched Sara, a similar multi-media communication package aimed at providing a role-model for adolescent girls in East and Southern Africa.

The package includes an animated television series, a radio series, comic books, story books, audio cassettes and posters. Sara, the heroine, embarks on a series of adventures and faces important decisions, such as whether or not to stay in school, how to deal with difficult adults, and how to protect herself from the HIV/ AIDS virus. The episodes teach girls essential life skills such as effective communication, negotiation and problem-solving. The series will be carried in at least 15 countries in the region.

Children's news

In 1996, UNICEF also teamed up with the Children's Express, a news service run by children for audiences of all ages, to visit Bangladesh where they filed stories on child labour issues.

The Children's Express members conducted a training workshop with three Bangladeshi children, who subsequently worked as reporters during the project. Together, the group interviewed child rights activists, child labour experts and other children in Dhaka.

The Bangladeshi children returned to New York with the rest of the group to work together on additional stories concerning child labour issues in America, and made media appearances to coincide with the International Children's Day of Broadcasting. The trip was a sequel to the Children's Express/ UNICEF visit to Bosnia and Croatia in 1995, which focused on the issue of children affected by armed conflict.

Reporting on children's issues

At the World Congress against commercial sexual exploitation of children in 1996, one area of concern that was identified is how the media report cases of child abuse and children's issues generally. UNICEF is working with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to encourage the media to develop international guidelines and codes of conduct for reporting on children's issues. In a series of consultations with media from all over the world, UNICEF will collaborate with the IFJ and the Committee on the Rights of the Child to prepare and adopt final draft guidelines for media reporting on children's issues.

These are just a few of UNICEF's planned media and multi-media activities for children.

Morten Giersing
Division of Communication
New York, New York 10017

Children's Express, UK/USA

Imagine a youth club whose focus is journalism rather than football. A place where inner-city kids are given the chance to tackle issues like: why teachers can turn a blind eye to drugs, why suicide is the second biggest cause of young deaths or why Ecstasy is something to die for.

Children's Express began life in the back room of a brownstone house in New York City in 1975. It was the home of Bob Clampitt, a former Wall Street lawyer and business entrepreneur, and a man who passionately believed that what children thought and said did matter. It was his dream to create a vehicle for children to report the news. As a first step he set up a magazine called Children's Express. But what began as a publication 'by children for children' in the living room of his house in Greenwich Village, very soon evolved into a news service that provided newspaper columns, articles, radio and television programmes across the United States.

Since then CE has gone on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Price, has won Emmy and Peabody Awards for its television coverage, published five books and held bi-annual symposia on young people and the media -- in the course of which the organisation has developed an enviable reputation as an objective source of youth views. There are now five bureaux in the States: Washington (the Foundation headquarters), New York, Indianapolis, Marquette and Oakland.

By children for everyone

Having heard about Children's Express, a group of journalists and TV producers ran a two-week pilot scheme in London in August 1994. Notices were put up in schools around the city, and 30 children were selected from 100 applicants. The main criterion was enthusiasm. Four teen editors from the New York bureau trained the London children and the final product was a double page spread in The Guardian in October 1994. Stephanie Williams, a journalist of 20 years, who helped run the pilot, was overwhelmed by how the young people worked and was struck by the fact that they were providing what was lacking in the media: the youth angle -- 'by children for everyone'. She decided that these kids could not be let down and started raising money to set up a London bureau. Children's Express UK celebrated its second anniversary in May this year.

Operating as a news agency

Children's Express reporters and editors research and report stories on subjects of their choice. They also accept commissions from newspapers and magazines. The organisation operates like a news agency by placing their stories in local, national and regional newspapers and magazines. CE's aim is to give young people the power and means to express themselves publicly on vital issues that affect them, and in the process to raise their self-esteem and develop their potential.

Children's Express targets children aged 8 to 18 from inner city areas, working with them after school, on Saturdays and during the holidays. The programme operates in two tiers. Younger children, aged 8 to 13, are the reporters, and are trained by the older children, aged 14 to 18, who also take responsibility for editing and overseeing the editorial activities. The ideal story team is five: three reporters and two editors. Every aspect of the story from interview, roundtable discussion to the debriefing afterwards, is tape-recorded. Not only does this mean that the programme is open to all, regardless of academic ability, but it guarantees accuracy and encourages literacy, organisation and writing well. In particular, it reinforces numerous aspects of the National Curriculum. It also increases children's self-confidence, develops curiosity and teaches them responsibility and citizenship.

From idea to publishing

The young people at Children's Express take an extraordinary degree of ownership into the process, from the initial story idea right through to seeing their names on the published article. But it is the process which is of the utmost importance. Publication is not a certainty; it is the cherry on the cake. The children run the reporters' board and the editors' board, determine which stories to follow, initiate research and interviews and work together in teams to realise their aims. They organise and run monthly meetings, quarterly training sessions in-house, and trainings for pilot schemes (two so far: one in Kent in February 1996 which did not develop into a bureau, and one in Newcastle in February 1997 which did), presentations and workshops. They are directly involved in the management of the programme: groups of kids sit on panels to interview shortlisted adult staff; they contribute to the on-going monitoring and evaluation of the programme; a team of young people have been instrumental in selecting the winners of a design competition which CE is running with students at the London College of Printing; their management proposals are put before the trustees on a regular basis.

Through CE, kids meet adults that they would normally never meet, discover things are not always what they seem and find out that if they do not take responsibility no one else will. They learn to see issues from someone else's point of view and to be persistent and assiduous. They also learn that many people are worse off than they are. The London bureau's first big scoop was published in May 1995 in The Independent -- an investigation on how easy it is for under-age children to buy Lottery tickets. CE covered the 1995 Labour Party Conference for Channel Four's 'First Edition' and investigated over-crowded classrooms for their 'Hands Up' programme. Since then, apart from producing a regular monthly piece for the Times Educational Supplement, they have covered the European Youth Parliament in Brussels for The Observer in May 1996, the BAFTA Children's Television Awards and the Childline Conference, produced a special edition of the Architects' Journal in October 1996 and made presentations at conferences run by Demos, BT Forum and Save the Children. CE members have also recently produced their first pre-recorded packages for radio which were commissioned by BBC Radio 5 Live, and 'fact-voice' presentations have been prepared for Liberty Radio and Radio 4.

Increasing demand

In the last two years, over 195 young people have been trained by CE teen editors and further recruitment is planned to roll out over the coming months. To date, Children's Express has worked on over 175 stories and published over 100 articles in the national press. They have reached over 50 million people through newspapers, on radio and television, and demand for their pieces is steadily increasing. Also during this period, CE has participated in seven television and six radio broadcasts, and has spoken at three conferences and covered seven others. In February 1997, Children's Express opened its first regional bureau, in partnership with the Save the Children Fund, on the Cowgate Estate in Newcastle. Here the focus is on a specific community where the children have virtually nothing on offer: no sports or leisure provision, no shops, no entertainment, no youth clubs, a school which is under threat of closing, and children with major literacy problems who are frequently excluded from school and who live in very difficult family situations. The pressure from the community and media is huge. Children are literally breaking into the building to be included in the programme.

Our aim is to open a further two bureaux in the UK by the year 2000 and then a further five. In this way it is our intention to improve the future prospects of thousands of children as well as to become Britain's first national news service producing news by young people.

Rowena Young
London Bureau Chief
Children's Express
Exmouth House, 3-11 Pine Street
Tel: +44 171 8332577
Fax: +44 171 278 7722

Participatory Techniques in Nepal [1]

This project combines participatory techniques for evaluation as well as for learning to use mass media. The sites are the Nagubahal and Guchibahal areas of the municipality of Lalitpur, Nepal. It combines the use of video, magazine and street drama. Under the Nepal/UK Partnership Scheme of The British Embassy in Nepal, funding for this project was provided to the DECORE Consultancy group to initiate the work and evaluate the results of the project, using participatory communication.

The idea behind the project is based on Thurnberg's Spiral of Interaction model (Windahl et al. 1992 p. 79) which says that when the communication function is fulfilled in a community, other functions are set in motion -- a spiral of increased identity, community, knowledge and action, enabling the group/community to reach its goals. This project shows how a participatory communication approach can help realise development goals.

DECORE worked with young people from different urban communities in Nepal. They let the young people express in their own terms the need of their communities and after attending communication classes arranged by DECORE these young participants were enabled to address local issues and problems through communication production. In one case, participants chose to address the issue of drug addiction and related social problems and express their ideas through the medium of video. Other participants chose to address the issue of conflicts in family relations through the medium of street drama.

DECORE has also carried out a participatory evaluation of the project to determine the extent to which the project as a whole has achieved its general objectives of attempting to test an existing theory, that is, whether participatory actions spirally lead to other community activities -- by discerning the attitudes and perceptions about the project and its activities among the participants themselves, their parents/relatives, community members, the persons and agencies involved in the project, or those who have a stake in it. Generally speaking the feedback has been positive.

Communication starts interactions

One main result of the project is that communication (interpersonal or mediatised) starts a 'spiral' of other interactions that can be oriented to forming a group attitude, or catalysing group action, or even merely ensuring the delivery of complete and relevant information. The project also makes heavy use of participatory communication techniques.

As a basic methodology of participatory communication, both the project and its evaluation techniques are replicable in other societies. Project managers and personnel will have to be extra sensitive to appreciate what can be adopted and what must be 'created' in the new contexts.

Ms Josefina O. Dhungana
Executive Director
Development Communication and Research Consultancy Group
P.O. Box 4343, Kathmandu, NEPAL
Fax: +977 1 221 459


1. Presentation of the project at the International Forum of Researchers, Youth and Media -- Tomorrow, April 21-25 1997, in Paris, France, organised by GRREM (Group de Recherche sur la Relation Enfants/Medias), as related in Carlos A. Arnaldo and Helle Jensen, Helping Young People Learn Media: a preliminary compilation of best practices. Paris: UNESCO, 1997, pp. 14-15.


Windahi, Sven, and Signitzer, Benno H., with Olson, Jean T. (1992) Using Communication Theory. An introduction to Planned Communication. London, Sage Publications.

Implementation of the UN CRC and the Role of Radio

In Salt River, South Africa, the Children's Resource Centre has set up a children's radio production group that regularly makes recordings for transmission on local community radio stations. In Senegal, Radio Gune-Yi is a radio show produced by young people broadcast weekly on the national radio airwaves. A similar children's radio show is produced and transmitted nationally in Guatemala. In North America the White Mountain Apache Tribe broadcasts its own youth magazine and in Australia another indigenous radio station also involves young people in production. What they all share is an interest in issues such as the environment, peace and basic human rights. What they all have in common is a recognition of the way radio can action at least two of those rights -- the freedom to hold and express an opinion and the right to access to the media.

Of all media -- print, television and the Internet -- radio excels in actioning and delivering those rights codified in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. With an outreach that currently exceeds television by a ratio of ten to one in developing countries (500 million radio receivers to 50 million TV sets), low-cost operational requirements, an oral mode not dependent on literacy that can reflect indigenous culture, and also with an easily-mastered, simple technology, radio plays a key role in delivery of news and information, health messages, education provision and in the representation of diverse multi-cultural social groups. Radio drama (in the soap-opera edutainment format) now plays a crucial part in awareness-raising and conflict resolution in Afghanistan and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Communicators of tomorrow

In an increasing number of countries radio is now offering children and young people the opportunity of access and the chance to participate. For them, radio production training gives experience in teamwork and communication as well as a sense of community and citizenship. It is an effective vehicle for learning what the Convention on the Rights of the Child means to themselves and to others. An involvement in radio can also be a fast-track to understanding the responsibilities that are linked to rights.

Learning these skills builds confidence and self-esteem. It also demystifies and builds capacity for the communicators of tomorrow. Already the Internet is making it possible for those in countries beyond the perimeters of the developed world to have access. RealAudio is the key. News and information can be downloaded by online radio stations and sent on in the form of radio signal to stations that don't have computers. They in turn can radio back their own news and information to the "mother" station and have it uploaded to the Internet as RealAudio and made available to other stations around the world.

One World Online (http://www. is the organisation that is running the pilot project. Current plans include an online children's and youth radio news and information exchange. 1998 will see many youth radio groups in different parts of the world connect on the OneWorld website in an innovative development that will make children's views and voices accessible to all the world's radio broadcasters and go even further towards implementing those articles of the Convention that protect rights to hold and express an opinion and have access to the media.

Sarah McNeill
UNLIMITED Productions
P.O. Box 2041, Hove BN3 2EW
East Sussex, U.K.
Tel/Fax: + 44 I 273 724 948


Established in 1994 as a consultancy specialising in radio production management and media project co-ordination, UNLIMITED Productions brings practical experience to new ventures in the field of human rights, child rights, radio in development and youth broadcasting.

Radio Gune-Yi, Senegal

Gune-Yi, meaning 'youth' in the Wolof language, is a production team which makes a 50 minute long weekly programme broadcast by children for children. The programme is aired on Senegalese national radio on AM and FM frequencies every Saturday at midday. It is funded by Plan International, has an expatriate advisor, Mimi Brazeau, and ties in with a popular young people's newspaper and Plan's child-sponsorship programme in Senegal. Its raison d'etre is that while 60 per cent of the population are children, only 15 per cent of programmes on the radio are child oriented. The team has five core staff and the show costs $70,000 a year.

The programme is recorded in villages around the country. Its format includes news; a guest of the week; "What do you want to know?" feature; "Grandma tell me a story"; "Young Reporter" feature with a child reporting on his or her village; "Did you know" describing issues affecting young people including health and the rights of the child; "Listen, I've got something to say," a young person's message addressed to parents, teachers or politicians; "Have you read?" suggestions on African and other authors. There are also exchanges between young people in Senegal and abroad, debates on controversial issues such as girls' education and child labour, recipes, everyday tips, and jokes.

Education by example

The programme intends to education by example, through a process of self-discovery and confidence building for children. Promotion of the child is also done through always having girl as well as boy presenters. A female sociologist goes to each venue before the recording and does a socio-economic and cultural survey of the area, to identify the pertinent issues effecting young people.

There are indications that about 500,000 children and as many adults listen every week. The national station gives the programme free airtime, and refers to it as one of its "flagship" projects. The press is supportive, as are phone calls and letters. The production team sees increasing confidence amongst girls, school attendance has increased, and some listeners' clubs have formed spontaneously.

Entertainment and high quality

Mary Meyers, development communications consultant, who has completed the first media monitoring survey commissioned by the ICHR (International Centre for Humanitarian Reporting) Radio Partnership as part of its ODA (Britain's Overseas Development Agency) funded Creative Radio Initiative, believes the success of the programme is due to its entertainment value and high quality. "There is no doubt", she concludes, "that Gune-Yi's format and ethos of allowing the young to speak for themselves and to grow in confidence as a result, is a great example for other radio stations in Africa and beyond".


Message on May 15, 1997, from Gordon M. Adam, Deputy Editor of Crosslines Global Report, The Independent Newsjournal on Humanitarian Action, Development and World Trends, to the Creative-Radio Mailing List (

Radio to Reach Young People in Denmark [1]

Polaroid is a catchy name that describes an attitude as well as a programme on radio that has caught the attention of a lot of young folk in Denmark. This documentary programme reflects upon young people's lives in the 1990s and seeks to lead listeners into the lives of others, to advise, to suggest, to learn. The programme has an open telephone line so that listeners can call Polaroid and participate actively on the spot and influence the debate and the development of the programme.

Polaroid aims particularly at 13-29-year-olds, although there is a slight bias to give more attention to 15-25 year-olds. The typical young listener of this radio programme has dreams about travelling around the world as a back-packer, he/she is a student, a so-called non-skilled worker trying just to earn some money, or he/she is young and unemployed receiving 'unemployment' money from the government. He/she has an attitude towards how the world ought to be organised but he/she would never dream of joining a political party or organisation. Polaroid addresses itself to young people who have an attitude towards themselves and the world they live in.

A voice for young people

Polaroid's objective is to influence the agenda setting for the debate about young peoples lives. The programme focuses on problems that have consequences for young people and gives voice to those who want to have a say on the subject. With its content, its debates and participating listeners, Polaroid aims at portraying young people's reality and to help those get back on the track that might have fallen by the wayside.

Danmarks Radio is a national public service radio and TV station. The radio has three programmes: P1, P2 and P3. Polaroid broadcasts on P1 every Tuesday from 2100h to 2400h. The people behind the production and the live programme of Polaroid are themselves young people of approximately the same age as their target group.

The tradition since 1973 has been that Danmarks Radio aims to ensure time for independent and 'free' voices. Polaroid also interacts with Go, a daily radio music programme broadcast from 1900h to 2100h for young people on P3 (known as the more entertaining programme) in the sense that just before Polaroid broadcasts on P1 on Tuesdays, Go mentions the content and the debate of 'this Tuesday's Polaroid' and plays spots from interviews that reflect the theme of the night. In this way Polaroid which is a serious, documentary and journalistic programme, is announced in the more entertaining music programme Go, which in effect brings Go's listeners to Polaroid.

Urgent issues

Among the kinds of issues Polaroid deals with is, for example, that the conflict between two groups of so-called Rockers -- Hells Angels and Bandidos -- has made public night-clubs and cafes unsafe places for young people to go to at night. Another example of Polaroid's debates is youth and unemployment. The programme goes behind postulates and myths such as: 'A young person can get a pistol in 3/4 of an hour', 'Young second generation immigrants are never allowed access to night clubs', 'You can buy anabolic steroids in any fitness or workout centre', 'A 15 year-old girl can easily buy alcohol in a bar at 4 o'clock in the morning', 'It is easy to obtain personal information about somebody with the help from a hacker'.

Polaroid also produces radio documentaries outside Denmark. Examples of subjects have been: Elections in England and the lack of participation from young people in politics; 'Rock the vote' project with rock groups such as 'Oasis' and 'Blur' who try to motivate the young people to participate; Why have young people lost belief in politics? How the young with their passivity indirectly influence the political future for Great Britain; Hip Hop band killings in USA; How young blacks from Ghettos are inspired by their idols to lead gang wars; Young Jewish men born and brought up in Denmark join the Israeli army to fight for their religious country. These documentaries are always followed up by a debate. Professionals are interviewed and listeners can call in and participate in the debate.

A special feature of Polaroid is the Diary. Polaroid arranges with someone who is facing a big change in his or her life, or has overcome a crisis or lived through a conflict with somebody, to talk about this experience. This is done outside the studio, on a tape recorder. The same procedure is used to 'illustrate' contrasts among young people in Denmark. For example, a young man in prison exchanges his life with an upper class young girl. He moves into her house and uses her car, and she goes to prison. Both are equipped with a tape recorder to reflect their views on the 'new' life.

Social awareness most important

The young people behind the production do not necessarily have to be professional journalists. It is more important that they have a social awareness. It is important, too, both for the form and the content of the programme that the producers are familiar with the subject matter and are ready to deal with the problems they will face. The fact that the producers and the hosts of the programme are also young, means that there is an understanding of and an almost 'automatic' sensitivity towards the problems, as well as towards the young persons who are reporting on their life situation in the documentaries. Style and content of the programme will automatically address the young listeners because there is a mutual understanding between the senders and the receivers of the messages in Polaroid.

A powerful medium

Young people with a desire to 'make radio' and with an urge to say something or tell a story to somebody, usually need only a basic introduction to making radio, to basic interview techniques, how to edit and how to prepare oneself as the host of the programme. That is enough for them to be able to produce a radio documentary programme and to be left with the responsibility of deciding the content of their programme and the broadcasting of it. The success of this programme also means that radio is still a powerful medium among the young in Denmark.

Michaela Krogh
Polaroid, Danmarks Radio
Rosenorns alle 22
2000 Frederiksberg C, DENMARK
Fax: +45-35-205 488


I. Project as related in Carlos A. Arnaldo and Helle Jensen, Helping Young People Learn Media: a preliminary compilation of best practices. Paris: UNESCO, 1997, pp. 17-19.

French Pupils Produce Radio Programmes [1]

Ocean represents an approach using informatics to produce sound programmes for radio or cassette listening. Hypermedia radio uses narratives, music or sounds digitally stored on a computer. A simple programme gives access to the files and allows the 'editor' to match files, mix, add, remove or otherwise edit and eventually 'mount' his/her sound programme. This involves not only some basic skills in radio production but also in multimedia informatics (hypermedia) by means of computer. The project aims to encourage media education in schools, using hypermedia radio as pedagogical tool for educators and teachers, but also for students.

The Ocean project works with school children from 9-11 years old. Classes produce a 13-20 minutes' radio programme with music mix every day. Because of hypermedia technology, it is possible today to perform quality editing of a radio programme -- all sound cuts are digital. Artistry, of course, will depend on the ability of the children and of the guidance given by their monitor. The project has shown that the children, knowing they are 'on the air' with an audience listening, make an effort to structure their narration and to express themselves clearly. Thus it is also an exercise in written and oral presentation, and in this way one pedagogical objective is achieved.

Great enthusiasm and originality

The children have generally participated with great enthusiasm and originality. Like any project which is based on free expression it demands great investment (patience and time!) from the teacher, but the results often recoup well the effort invested.

Experiments in 1996-97 showed that children from 9-10 years were able to make a ten-minutes quality programme during a two and a half hours' work session. The children are completely autonomous in the use of the technology and the teacher/educator follows up as needed.

Pascal Jablonka
Responsible for Educational Informatics
Institut Universitaire Formation des Maitres (IUFM)
10, Rue Molitor
75016 Paris, FRANCE


I. Presentation of the project at the International Forum of Researchers. Youth and Media -- Tomorrow, April 21-25, 1997, in Paris, France, organised by GRREM (Group de Recherche sur la Relation Enfants/Medias), as related in Carlos A. Arnaldo and Helle Jensen, Helping Young People Learn Media: a preliminary compilation of best practices, Paris: UNESCO, 1997, p, 16.

Introducing Children to Journalism and Media, Argentina [1]

This project is managed by a media specialist working through public schools in the region of Buenos Aires, interested in or wishing to offer media education for children and young people by facilitating their access to work with and reflect upon media. The project favours especially less well endowed schools in difficult and poor areas. When all these schools have been covered by courses and media exercises, the project will be ready to service other schools, including private sector schools, and in other regions.

The objective is to introduce a new media pedagogy in the public schools and thus create an atmosphere of curiosity, participation, and passion for knowledge, all with the possibility of expression through various media -- photography, newspapers, radio programmes, video and television. The project thus seeks to teach children that participation is possible, that nobody is unreachable even though it seems that they are far away, that their voices are worth listening to and thinking about.

The Co-ordination Centre works closely together with The General Directorate of Education of The City Council of Buenos Aires under the Secretary of Education. This co-operation has made it possible for the Centre to operate in 200 public schools in The Federal Capital of Buenos Aires, reaching in 1995 4,622 school children working on media projects.

Using media in learning situations

The Centre makes use of an important pedagogical innovation: a drastic change from the traditional pedagogical model to one based on student initiative and hands-on output. The Centre insists that the school as a social institution in today's information society needs to rethink it's role but at the same time recognises that the school provides a fundamental space for the development and education of the individual. The project attempts to meet that need by a process that introduces media in learning situations.

To do this, the project invites teachers and librarians to workshops to learn the production of graphic material, radio or audiovisual material and how to use these as a support or as a 'dynamiser' in the process of learning. The workshops concentrate on planning, communication, investigation, reflection upon the practice and the functions and the tools of each media. Afterwards each participant forms a group with pupils in his/her school. The workshop in the school makes it possible for the pupils to 'experience' journalism and media and to participate in working processes such as media criticism, finding sources, debates, selection of materials and the final editing of the broadcast. The workshop model and the media production thus creates active participation and a gratifying interaction between teachers and pupils.

In nine years, the Centre has organised more than 300 workshops in 200 schools. Over 250 teachers and 6,000 pupils were directly involved. The multiplier factor of this project has been very high over the nine years of the project, and could possibly be higher with additional technical equipment and human resources. The result is that several thousand young people now know how to prepare articles for a newspaper, make a radio programme, shoot a video and mount a television programme.

Silvia Bacher
The Co-ordination Centre for Journalism, Communication and Education
Bartolome Mitre 1249, Piso 50 , Of. 51
Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
Fax: +54 1 5522206


1. Presentation of the project at the International Forum of Researchers, Youth and Media -- Tomorrow, April 21-25, 1997, in Paris, France, organised by GRREM (Group de Recherche sur la Relation Enfants/Medias), as related in Carlos A. Arnaldo and Helle Jensen, Helping Young People Learn Media: a preliminary compilation of best practices. Paris: UNESCO, 1997, pp. 10-11.

A Pedagogical Kit for Learning About Television, Brazil [1]

This project, the Telespectator's Educational Programme, offers school teachers practical materials to implement media education activities in their courses and thereby provide to young people, 10-16 years old, the opportunity to ask questions and to discuss television and it's messages.

The project is a result of fruitful cooperation between the University of Brazil where the programme has been carried out and the International Centre of the Child (CIE) which has participated in the design of the programme and has supplied the biggest part of the financing. A multidisciplinary team of professors and students from the University of Brazil has been developed over two years. The project has also received support from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Development which has offered initiation grants for the students who participated in the project.

Enthusiasm among the students

The principal pedagogical method is self-activity. The young students read the text material and watch visualised 'lessons' on video, allowing them to reflect upon and to discuss problem matters such as, e.g., violence in the media. They can elaborate on a subject and carry out activities that are proposed in the video and in the text material. Those activities are, e.g., writing poems and creating a theatre play. Experience so far has shown that self-activity works. In general the young students participate with enthusiasm in the proposed activities. One positive experience using this Telespectator self-activity approach has been with poor adolescents from Casa da Liberdade, an institution which receives young street people free of charge and offers them activities to complement their normal school.

The philosophy behind the project is that the integration of television in schools as a subject of study is as necessary as journalistic and literary texts are 'languages'. Apart from being a valuable pedagogical tool, television is another 'language', another means of expression which young students as television viewers should learn how to 'read' critically. This, in brief, is also the aim of the project.

In a first experiment, two hundred examples of the Kit were produced in 1992 at the university and they were sold out quickly. In 1995 a new edition has been prepared and two hundred and fifty new examples have been produced in order to respond to requests from educators. If this is as successful as early tests seem to indicate, the Kit should perhaps be produced in greater quantity, including an instructor's guide.

Maria Luiza Belloni
Rua Infantaria Dezasseis
52 Apto, 5 Dto
1350 Lisboa, PORTUGAL
Fax: +351 48 234 3617


1. Presentation of the project at the International Forum of Researchers, Youth and Media -- Tomorrow, April 2 I -25 1997, in Paris, France, organised by GRREM (Group de Recherche sur la Relation Enfants/Medias), as related in Carlos A. Arnaldo and Helle Jensen, Helping Young People Learn Media: a preliminary compilation of best practices. Paris: UNESCO, 1997, pp. 12-13.
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International and Regional Declarations and Resolutions

Children and Media

International Declarations and Resolutions


Soon, Mankind will enter the Third Millennium. The cinema will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Television is a little bit younger.

As we reach the crossroads of the year 2000, the importance of children's film continues to grow, as does the need for children to see these films. We can know that.

We live and will live, people from North and South, East and West, in a changing and dynamic world. Mankind will reach new heights in knowledge and in achievement. Children, who are our hope for the future, have the right to benefit from these general developments.

As specialists in children's cinema and television, we appreciate that the increasing impact of film, television and other media on our children demands more specific care and action with an aim to achieving better quality in the lives of the young people.

Good quality films and television programmes for children can and must carry positive fundamental human values. These will help and support the development of a personal conscience in young people, and add new dimensions to their basic social behaviour and to their knowledge of the world.

Good quality children's films and television programmes can and must encourage the process of creative thinking, of deciding and of acting in full liberty in order that children can build their own personalities and their future.

Good quality children's films and television programmes can and must reveal and stress the basic values of each people and of each nation, according to their traditions, the social and cultural backgrounds upon which they are founded, and the national identity of each country. At the same time, these nations must share these values with others in a general harvest of human spirituality.

Good quality children's films can also travel across borders, playing a leading role in the building of the world of tomorrow, helping to define the place in which our children will live.

For all these reasons, we think that the governments, the parliaments, the national and international agencies and organizations around the world must recognize, through support of production and distribution of children's films, a duty to the future of each nation and of the entire world.

The Bratislava resolution was adopted by the assembly, on the occasion of a gathering of producers, broadcasters and others interested in production for children, and in sharing experiences, East and West. Over 70 participants came from 30 countries. The meeting was called by CIFEJ, hosted by the Biennale of Animation, and held in Bratislava November 1994. For more information on the Bratislava gathering, see the Clearinghouse newsletter, News on Children and Violence on the Screen, No 1-2, 1997.

Bratislava Resolution

There are several ways to achieve such goals:

• stimulating increased production of children's films and television, on a national level, by raising and investing more funds
• building a support system for wider and better distribution of those children's films whose artistic and educational values are more important than their commercial aspects
• encouraging the use on a large scale of production for children in schools and in other educational institutions and activities
• supporting the spread of quality children's screenings in all social areas
• financing and developing the education and training of specialists -- scriptwriters, directors and others -- of children's production
• stimulating and financing scientific research about the reaction of children to the media, and about the way they use media for their specific needs
• helping national and international professional organizations and associations dealing with the issues surrounding children's film and television to achieve and develop their activities.

We are sure that the governments, the parliaments, the national and international agencies and organizations are aware that supporting children's film and television production will serve the interests of each people, of each country, and will contribute to the building of a better world, one in which we would like to live in at the threshold of the Third Millennium. Never forget that any little thing done for children now is an investment in the future.

November 1994

International and Regional Declarations and Resolutions


1. Children should have programmes of high quality which are made specifically for them, and which do not exploit them. These programmes, in addition to entertaining, should allow children to develop physically, mentally and socially to their fullest potential.

2. Children should hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their language and their life experiences, through television programmes which affirm their sense of self, community and place.

3. Children's programmes should promote an awareness and appreciation of other cultures in parallel with the child's own cultural background.

4. Children's programmes should be wide-ranging in genre and content, but should not include gratuitous scenes of violence and sex.

5. Children's programmes should be aired in regular slots at times when children are available to view, and/or distributed via other widely accessible media or technologies.

6. Sufficient funds must be made available to make these programmes to the highest possible standards.

7. Governments, production, distribution and funding organisations should recognize both the importance and vulnerability of indigenous children's television, and take steps to support and protect it.

May 29, 1995

The Children's Television Charter, was presented by Anna Home, Head of Children's Programmes, Television, BBC, at the first World Summit on Television and Children in Melbourne, Australia, March 1995. The charter was revised and adopted in Munich in May 1995. It is actively used by many organisations. A session at the Second World Summit will be devoted to the progress of the charter. For more information on the First World Summit, see the Clearinghouse newsletter, News on Children and Violence on the Screen, No 1-2, 1997.

SADC Children's Broadcasting Charter was adopted by the assembly of the Southern African Developing Countries' Summit on Children and Broadcasting, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in May 1996. The idea for a regional (SADC plus Kenya) forum grew from discussions about how to make the Children's Television Charter emanating from the First World Summit more relevant and applicable to Africa, and how to prepare for future representation at broader gatherings.


We, the people of the Southern African Developing Countries of Angola, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia, affirm and accept the internationally adopted Children's Television Charter which was accepted in Munich on 29 May, 1995.

Without detracting from the International Children's Charter, we further adopt, in line with the said Charter, our SADC Children's Broadcasting Charter, which takes into account the needs and wants of children in our region.

Children should have programmes of high quality, made specially for them and which do not exploit them. These programmes, in addition to entertaining, should allow children to develop physically, mentally and socially to their fullest potential. Whilst endorsing the child's right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, and protection against economic exploitation, children must be assured access to programmes and production of programmes through multi-media access centres.

Children should hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their language and their life experiences, through the electronic media which affirm their sense of self, community and place.

As part of the child's right to education and development, children's programmes should promote an awareness and appreciation of other cultures in parallel with the child's own cultural background. To facilitate this there should be an ongoing research into the child audience, including the child's needs and wants which, as a matter of priority, should be implemented.

Children's programmes should be wide-ranging in genre and content, but should not include gratuitous scenes of violence and sex.

Children's programmes should be aired in regular slots at times when children are available to listen and view, and/or be distributed via other widely accessible media or technologies.

Sufficient resources, technical, financial and other must be made available to make these programmes to the highest possible standards, and in order to achieve quality, codes and standards for children's broadcasting must be formulated and developed through a diverse range of groupings.

In compliance with the UN policy of co-operation between states in the international community, and especially in the SADC countries, the Children's Broadcasting Charter recognises all international covenants, conventions, treaties, charters and agreements adopted by all international organisations including the UN and the OAU affecting children, but with particular reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

June 1996


We, Ministers of Information, Education, Welfare and Social Development from 27 countries of Asia, Senior Officials representing the various government, executives, researchers, practitioners and professionals from various streams of media, non-governments organisations, advocacy groups and concerned individuals gathered in Manila for the Asian Summit on Child Rights and the Media:

re-affirming our commitment to ensure implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as ratified in our countries;

acknowledging the developmental role, responsibility and power of all forms of media to inform, entertain, educate and influence; and,

recognising their potential for children and for social change.


protect and respect the diverse cultural heritage of Asian societies; be accessible to all children;

provide for the girl child and counter the widespread discrimination against the girl child; and,

provide for children with special needs; children in especially difficult circumstances, children of indigenous communities and children in situation of armed conflict

The Asian Summit on Child Rights and the Media, was held in Manila, the Philippines in July 1996. Delegates at the Summit -- Including ministers and senior officials of Asian Governments, journalists, media executives, educators and child rights advocates from 16 countries adopted the Asian Declaration on Child Rights and the Media. For more information on the Asian Summit, see the Clearinghouse newsletter, News on Children and Violence on the Screen, No 1- 2, 1997.

The Asian Declaration on Child Rights and the Media


adopt policies that are consistent with the principles of nondiscrimination and the best interests of all children;

raise awareness and mobilise all sectors of society to ensure the survival, development, protection and participation of all children;

address all forms of economic, commercial and sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the region and ensure that such efforts do not violate their rights, particularly their right to privacy;

protect children from material which glorifies violence, sex, horror and conflict; and,

promote positive values and not perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes.


be of high quality, made especially for them, and do not exploit them;

support their physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual development;

enable children to hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their languages and their life experiences through media which affirm their sense of self and community, while promoting an awareness and appreciation of other cultures;

be wide-ranging in genre and content, but not include gratuitous scenes of violence and sex; and,

be accessible to them at times when they need and can use it.


provide media education for children and families to develop their critical understanding of all media forms;

provide opportunities for children in creating media and to express themselves on a wide range of issues relating to their needs and interests;

provide sufficient funds and resources to ensure access to and enable the production and dissemination of high quality materials for and about children as well as capacity building for media practitioners so that they could perform their role as developmental agencies;

promote regional and international cooperation through the sharing of research, expertise and exchange of materials and programmes, networking among government, non-government organisations, media organisations, educational institutions, advocacy groups and other agencies;

provide incentives for excellence through awards at regional and national levels;

provide coordinated monitoring mechanisms and encourage self-regulation at regional and national levels to ensure the implementation of this Declaration; and,

convene as early as possible broad national multi-sectoral consultations to develop action plans, including professional guidelines consistent with this Declaration.

Adopted, 5 July 1996 Asian Summit on Child Rights and the Media, Manila



We, the delegates of the Africa Summit on Children's Broadcasting, Accra Ghana 8-12 October 1997, affirm and accept the internationally adopted Children's Television Charter that was accepted in Munich on 29 May 1995. In addition, we amend the SADC Children's Broadcasting Charter (June 1996) to read as the Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting.

Without detracting from the International Children's Television Charter, we further adopt in line with the said Charter and in the spirit of the said Charter, our Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting, which takes into consideration the needs and wants of children in our region.

The first All Africa Summit on Children's Broadcasting was held in Accra, Ghana, October 1997. The most important thing that came out of the Summit was an Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting. The Charter is in keeping with the international Children's Television Charter, but expands on the issues relevant to the African continent, and includes radio as well. In particular greater emphasis is placed on the educational and developmental needs of African children and protection from all forms of commercial exploitation.

1. Children should have programmes of high quality, made specifically for them and which do not exploit them at any stage of the production process. These programmes, in addition to entertaining, should allow children to develop physically, mentally and socially to their fullest potential.

2. Whilst recognising that children's broadcasting will be funded through various mechanisms including advertising, sponsorship and merchandising, children should be protected from commercial exploitation.

3. Whilst endorsing the child's right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, and protection against economic exploitation, children must be ensured equitable access to programmes, and whenever possible, to the production of programmes.

4. Children should hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their language and their life experiences, through the electronic media which affirm their sense of self, community and place.

5. Children's programmes should create opportunities for learning and empowerment to promote and support the child's right to education and development. Children's programmes should promote an awareness and appreciation of other cultures in parallel with the child's own cultural background. To facilitate this there should be ongoing research into the child audience, including the child's needs and wants.

6. Children's programmes should be wide ranging in genre and content, but should not include gratuitous scenes, and sounds of violence and sex through any audio or visual medium.

7. Children's programmes should be aired in regular time slots at times when children are available to listen and view, and/or be distributed via other widely accessible media or technologies.

8. Sufficient resources, technical, financial and other, must be made available to make these programmes to the highest possible standards, and in order to achieve quality, setting codes and standards for children's broadcasting must be formulated and developed through a diverse range of groupings.

9. In compliance with the UN policy of co-operation between states in the international community, the Africa Charter on Children's Broadcasting recognises all international covenants, conventions, treaties, charters and agreements adopted by all international organisations including the OAU and the UN affecting children, but with particular reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

11 October 1997
Accra, Ghana
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