Observation Of Tv Violence Essay, Research Paper
Violence on Television
In my experiment I will study the behavior of children before, during and after viewing a violent television program, specifically “The Power Rangers.” I will use the theories of Charles Horton Cooley, George Herbert Mead and Harold Wilensky to analyze the results according to their theories.
Cooley’s theory is that people shape the aspects of their identity so that it would fit what others would want. Therefore we would become the kind of person we believe others think we should be. Harold Wilensky said that the media produces a mass culture, in which people have similar culture, that people have similar cultural tastes and political values shaped by the media. This produces a mass of people with similar thoughts and feelings, which can be manipulated by the media.
Mead believed that the self is a social product, acquired by observing and assimilating the identities of others. He believed that for identification and assimilation there is a need for communication. The communication is the interaction of language, culture, family, peers and with a new form of communication, media. For Mead, childhood play and games were important activities. These activities used the idea of role taking, the way we try to look at social situations from the standpoint of another person, and significant others, influential people in our lives.
The theorist that I think is the best for my experiment is Mead. For my experiment my hypothesis will be that after viewing a violent television program children will act more aggressive than before. That the children’s play will change so that it would become more violent, so that it would be similar to the show that they had seen.
In my experiment I observed two children 30 minutes before watching the “Power Rangers” 30 minutes during the show and 30 minutes after the show. The observation was done on the friends of my brother and the friends of my cousins.
My first observation was on my brother and his friend on November 1, 1999. My brother’s name is Sina, he was born here and is 7 years old, but his parents were born in Iran. He is half Muslim and half Jewish; neither of his parents are strictly religious. He has an older brother and sister. His friend’s name is Alex and he is also 7 years old, and born in Russia. His father lives in Russia and he lives with his mother, grandmother and aunt. Both his parents are Jewish and he has a twin brother, but no sisters. I started to observe Sina and Alex at 3:00 PM at my house, since I knew that they would watch “Power Rangers” at 3:30. At 3:00 they played with each other, first playing in the living room using their trucks and making roads for their cars to travel on. They would make bridges and they directed traffic as though one of them was a traffic officer. He would tell them when to go and when to stop and they would make the cars crash into each other so that the fire truck and the ambulance could come and rescue them.
Then about 10 minutes later they went into my Sina’s room, where he brought out his action figures. There were 2 Spiderman toys, 3 Power Ranger toys, 3 Batman toys, 2 Buzz Light-year toys (from the movie “Toy Story”) and 1 Ninja Turtle toy. They divided the toys up, taking turns in choosing the toys. First my brother, Sina, picked a Power Ranger toy, then another one, a Spiderman toy, a Batman toy and a Buzz Light-year toy. Alex got the other toys picked the toys that I did not mention. They lined up their toys so that they were facing their opponent and each of them grabbed two of their toys. They started to battle against each other and pretended that the toys were real and that they were either jumping really high or flying. Then they put one of their toys down and started to fight with only one toy each. They moved the arms and legs of their toys and each one would say that he had defeated the other ones toy. The other would complain and they would bring out the other toys to start fighting again. They did this for the remainder of the 20 minutes.
At about 3:30 they went back into the living room and they started to watch the “Power Rangers”. During the first 13 minutes they sat next to each other on the couch and watch the show. At about the time of the commercials, Sina’s mother brought them each a hotdog on a bun to eat. They spent the commercial time to talk about the show and to eat their hotdog. When the show started again they began to watch and they ate much slower. It took them about 5 more minutes to finish their food and during this time they watched TV without having a conversation. Around 3:50 the ending battle of the Power Rangers started and Sina started to sing the theme song of the show, “go go Power Rangers…” as the TV was playing the song. After the Power Rangers defeated the “bad guy”, my brother would celebrate with them and that would be the end of the show.
After the show Sina would show off his karate moves and start punching the air. Then he and Alex would pretend to be one of the Power Rangers, each one choosing their favorite. They would either pretend to fight with each other or they would team up with each other and they would make a strategy on how to enter a building that the bad guy is at. After about 15 minutes of this they would go back into the room and play with their toys again. This time they named their toys so that it was one of the characters in the show that they just saw. The would try to copy the action that they saw and both Sina and Alex would team up against the bad guy, defeating him and then celebrating. They did this for the remainder of the time that I observed them.
I did another observation with three different children at my friend’s house. The first child is a male named Dima. He is a Romanian born here and is 8 years old. He is Christian and had a younger brother and lives with both his parents. The second child is a female named Sandra, age 6. She is Armenian Catholic and is an only child. She lives with both of her parents and was born in the US. The third child is a 7-year-old male named Luis. He was born here and both his parents were born in Mexico. He is Catholic, living with 1 younger sister and three older sisters.
For this observation I was in my friend’s house on November 15, 1999. Again I was going to observe at the same time and focusing on the same show. At 3:00 the three children were pl0aying marbles with each other. They each had their own base and they were to hit each others marble to capture it. Dima had a defensive base and was determined to protect his base. Luis had his marbles everywhere and was trying to capture as many marbles as he could, while Sandra chose to attack Dima. The children would play and they would sometimes get into fights about the rules of the game. After about 10 minutes of this Luis got bored and he brought out animal toys and to amuse the other children. He used the toys so as to help him win the game. The other two children got mad and they got toys too. After 20 minutes of playing and arguing with each other they all became so mad at each other that they stopped complaining. They went into the backyard to play kickball with each other. They kicked the ball to each other without any arguments.
At 3:30 they went back into the room and they turned on the TV to watch “Power Rangers.” For the first part off the show (the section before the first commercial break) the children sat down and when they saw their favorite character they would talk about him/her. During the commercials Luis and Dima got up and went outside to play with the ball some more, while Sandra stayed inside to watch the commercials. When the show started again Sandra called Luis and Dima and they quickly came back in. The same kind of behavior went on for about 5 more minutes and at about 3:50 it was the time when the “bad guy” was to be defeated. The two boys kept talking about the moves and the weapons that their favorite character would use. Then they began to act out the battles between the bad and good guys. Dima and Luis picked their favorite person and acted with them as they did moves on the show. Sandra was the judge and she told them whether they were doing good or not. They did this for another 20 minutes until about 4:15 when they started to challenge each other to a fight. They fought using their imaginary weapons. They started to dispute about whose weapons were stronger and they started to wrestle with each other. After 10 minutes of this Dima’s and Luis’ parents came to stop them. They continued to watch TV for about 20 more minutes.
According to the action of the two boys was to show that they were like the models on the TV show. That they were trying to be like the people they admired and that they hoped to become similar to the characters on the show. Wilensky’s theory suggests that the show is influencing the audience and that the producers of the shows are controlling them. The influence can change if the producers change the show and that they can manipulate the audience into thinking of what they want to think of. Mead’s theory would say that the children would view this show because they thought that the actors in it are significant figures and with this respect the children would try to imitate them using the role taking method. The children’s identification is passed down from the actors’ actions to the children.