Thursday, 2 September 2010

Kids, Keep off the Grass

Since the advent of mass media there have been ongoing concerns about the potentially harmful effects of the media on society. In response to concerns, we have introduced age restrictions on video games and films; established a watershed on terresterial television and encouraged parents to patrol TV sets across the country ready to press the 'Off Switch'.

But is this really enough?

We have all heard primary school aged children talking about watching 18 rated films; we all know of children, some our own, who watch their TVs late in to the night unmonitored; we have all seen adolescent boys ogling pornography on their mobile phones. So, the controls evidently aren't working.

But do we particularly care?

If we're honest many of us doubt whether the media is a genuine threat to our children; so rather than establishing real measures to protect them we have resigned ourselves to setting up the equivalent of 'Keep off the Grass' signs adjacent to a children's playground. Perhaps our response is due to the fact that to many of us, the effect of the media is still open to debate. Perhaps, many of us really do doubt how dangerous the media is, and are thus unpertubed when the weak walls we put in place are breached. When we hear that a young man incessantly played a gruesome videogame and committed a copycat murder, we assume he would have done it anyway. When we hear about a sex attacker's addiction to pornography we assume that his own mind would have been enough motivation for his heinous crimes, pornograpy or no pornography.

Thus far, our debate about the media has been based upon subjective reasoning, and has been based upon people's different moral preferences and personal tastes. But, what if we could move this debate from the realm of the philosophers, theologians and social commentators to the realm of the social scientist and psychologist? What if they could provide us with objective, evidence based arguments for or against the media's effects and we could put a name and a face to the media threat and respond with appropriate measures.

As safermedia, one of our aims is to bring to your attention current research concerning the effect of the media on our society. It is our hope that as a society we will come afresh to this debate and simply look at the evidence. It is our plan to take the debate over the media from the arena of subjectivity to objectivity, where armed with information society can respond decisively.  As an introduction, over the next four months we will be sharing with you exciting new research about the effects of the media.  As well as this we will be keeping you up to date with media-related stories in the news and upcoming safermedia events.

Please take time to read, absorb and comment.

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