Viewing Violence

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Psychologist and mother Madeline Levine looks at the history of television and movie violence in the United States. She translates into everyday language the results of over four decades of research on the effects of media violence - research that up until now has been inaccessible to most parents. Using a "developmental approach," Dr. Levine helps parents understand that children at different ages think about, understand, and experience the world in very different ways. An appreciation of these differences in ...
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Overview

Psychologist and mother Madeline Levine looks at the history of television and movie violence in the United States. She translates into everyday language the results of over four decades of research on the effects of media violence - research that up until now has been inaccessible to most parents. Using a "developmental approach," Dr. Levine helps parents understand that children at different ages think about, understand, and experience the world in very different ways. An appreciation of these differences in how children "see" things is critical if parents are to make wise choices about what is appropriate and what is potentially harmful to their children. Using research findings, common sense, and personal experience, Dr. Levine demonstrates that violence is not generic - and neither are children: the movie that may be instructive and appropriate for an eleven-year-old may be traumatic and overwhelming for a seven-year-old. Parents frequently underestimate the impact of violent television on their children and may be surprised at what children find upsetting. Dr. Levine argues that the issue of media violence is not trivial, that our society is increasingly at risk not only for higher levels of violence but for a greater tolerance and acceptance of this violence. In spite of efforts from both sides of the political spectrum to claim media violence as a political issue, Dr. Levine insists this is a parenting and citizenship issue. She looks at how parents, government, schools, and the media itself can best approach the problem. The book concludes with a list of resources to help parents become active in media reform.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Levinepsychotherapist, consultant to preschools and elementary schools in the San Francisco Bay area and mother of three boyshas performed a valuable service for parents here by lucidly synthesizing four decades of research on the harmful effects of media violence on children. Graphic, gratuitous depictions of violence on television and in the movies, she concludes, encourage young viewers to act more aggressively, desensitizes them to real-world violence and instills a distorted, pessimistic worldview. Media violence also makes children more restless, more fearful and less creative. TV programs present limited options for girls and glorify violent solutions for boys. Levine traces the successive stages of cognitive, emotional and moral development, from preschoolers' magical, totally egocentric outlook to teenagers often coping with confusion, apathy and hopelessness. Using this developmental framework, she sets forth guidelines to help parents decide what kids should and shouldn't watch. Of particular interest, she finds that most children's cartoons are antisocial, violent, mindnumbing and inane. An annotated list of resources includes government agencies, TV networks, advocacy groups, organizations active in media literacy. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Psychologist Levine asserts that violence in the media damages children and marshalls 40 years of academic research to support her claim in a parent-friendly manner. Using a "development approach" based on the work of child theorists like Piaget, the author analyzes how children process the media at different stages. Provocative statistics and policy discussions abound here. We learn that American children on average watch double the amount of TV that experts recommend. The book concludes with suggestions and resources to increase the quality of the mass media and the literacy of its viewers. The inadequacy of a movie rating system that brands both Rain Man and Pulp Fiction as "R" and the promise of the V-chip are also explored. Specific recommendations for positive programming that will appeal to various groups are made, but the references will date quickly. Though repetitive in parts, this is an authoritative work on a significant social problem. Recommended for public library media collections and academic libraries supporting programs in mass media or child development.Antoinette Bruckman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville
Kirkus Reviews
Cogent evidence that media violence encourages aggression, desensitization, and pessimism in young people, combined with clear advice to parents on how to protect their children.

A psychologist and school consultant, as well as a concerned mother of three, Levine brings both professional expertise and personal commitment to the task at hand: demonstrating what social scientists know about how media violence affects the young, helping parents make decisions about their children's viewing, and providing parents with concrete suggestions for reducing the media's negative effects. She reviews the relevant research first, effectively answering the questions of those who still harbor any doubts about the harmful effects of media violence. Next, she looks at how children at different developmental stages experience the world, their cognitive and moral development, and their management of aggressive feelings. Parents can turn directly to the chapters dealing with the age group that interests them—35 years, 68, 911, 1214, and 1518. Levine hopes that parents armed with a clear understanding of their children's development will be better able to make decisions about which programs are appropriate for them. She follows this up with some concrete suggestions, e.g., watch television with your children, teach children to watch with a purpose, insist on reading, provide other cultural opportunities, and become an activist. Levine strongly advocates the addition of media literacy courses to the school curriculum, and urges parents to get involved in bringing this about. Her final chapter is directed at the schools, media, and the government, but Levine makes it clear that parents bear the primary responsibility for creating a healthy cultural environment for their children.

An empowering message for concerned parents.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385476867
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.57 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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