The paper deals with the description of the main aims of future research. The first portion is devoted to the introduction of the paper and the description of the relevance of the current research. The second potion is devoted to literature review mainly focusing on the negative impact of television on eight-year-old children and their disability to recognize the imaginary world in television and real in life. Three major research questions have been set. The final portion is devoted to the methodology of future research. The methodology has been divided into theoretical and empirical methods.
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Can Children under the Age of Eight Tell the Difference between Reality and Fantasy on Television?
Aim of the Research
Out of the process of socialization by parents and other social environments, children perceive certain phenomena of reality through the media. Getting more and more experience and knowledge about the world, the children take out some assessments taking place on-screen events and characters; in particular, they attribute certain events or characters to the status of reality and unreality. The relevance of the topic was chosen due to the fact that various types of mass media have been intensively developed at the present time. Today’s children are already living in a very different cultural and information space, they have access to various information sources. Their worldview and spiritual values are formed under the influence of the media, including the children's television.
The processes that characterize the current stage of development of society and are reflected in the active participation of the media in all areas of human life and activity prove the growing influence of journalism on the spiritual and moral atmosphere in society (Pine & Nash, 2002). The greatest impact force in this context has a television. This process is particularly evident at the regional level where the activation of the network and convergent sector compete with the so-called “traditional” media. It is, however, sad that modern television broadcasts mostly those products that meet the criteria of values, authenticity, and humanity, and very rarely is the translator of cultural values in their true generally. Low-grade TV production filled the air time, often has a negative impact on society as a whole, on the attitudes and spiritual development of its members; and this effect can often be called inhuman and anti-social (Chang, 2000). Thus, the purpose of this research is to reveal the influence of TV on children's social development.
For the modern man, there is a clear need to develop skills of perception and the ability to understand the true meaning of audiovisual images. This is especially true for children, whose weak psyche reacts to everything the child sees on the screen. Due to uncontrolled and mindless television viewing, the child is under the negative influence of television, which certainly affects the spiritual and moral formation of his personality.
From the earliest years of the television audience of children, scientists and experts have been unanimous in their opinion that the home screen has a huge potential for training and education. The eventful history of national broadcasts for children fully confirmed the hypothesis put forward by experts. By the mid-1970s, this line of television reached its highest point: there were thematic and genre diversity; the screen presented the interests of all age groups of young viewers; quantities grow with each season. The TV for children of that period was a pattern of systematic work. Concerted efforts of all departments were designed to achieve a single goal – to bring up the younger generations. At the end of the last century, informing and entertaining the audience became priorities for national television. The prevailing laws of the market factors that determine the programming policy of broadcasters became a commercial success and political expediency. Overall commercialization of television had a negative impact on broadcasting for young viewers. In the 1990s, national TV for the children experienced a period of decline; it was destroyed by the broadcast system built in previous years. The new century has brought dramatic changes. The changes in the socio-political structure of the country that have taken place at the end of the XX century caused this situation. As consequence of democratic transition, state institutions were resigned as organizers and ideologists of the system of educational spheres. In this case, the mechanisms of self-regulation and social self-control do not work in full force. As a result, TV for children deprived of support in the face of the state so far has not found itself a new “master” (Morrow, 2006).
On average, children spend at the screen from 2.5 to 3.5 hours per day; children make up 25% of all viewers. A serious gap in the theory of children's television’s turn led to the development of the disciplines – issues, which intersect with the subject of this study. As a scientific foundation, the provision of children's anthropology, pedagogy, and child psychology was used. Ample material for analysis provided data surveys. Broadcasting for children is an integral part of national television as a whole, its history is a direct continuation of the processes that characterize the development of the media in the country. In this sense, the scientific works of journalism theorists were of paramount importance for the study.
First of all, the study of Houdzhem Bob and David Tripp should be noted (Certain & Kahn, 2002). They came to the conclusion that the main purpose (to consciously or unconsciously put the children in this age when watching TV programs) is a comparison of media content, which they perceive to real-world objects represented in everyday reality. Hodge and Tripp suggest that watching TV directly affects the generation of concepts, “realistic” and “fabulous” perception of the children of this age group. For example, the cartoons are the most popular among children aged 6-8 years (according to studies in Australia), while children between the ages of 9-12 years old prefer different kinds of shows with a dramatic story such as TV series and expanded newscasts (Grohol, 2009).
This indicates a conflict of ideal images perceived the children aged 6-8 and 9-12 years: fictional, non-existent in reality, cartoon characters, and characters of news or television series (Morrow, 2006). This is another evidence of the influence of stages of cognitive development in the child's perception features. Moreover, it is clear that a combination of a linguistic and logical ligament in news programs are too complex for children under the age of eight. After semiotic research of the content of TV programs, which are viewed by kids of these age groups, the researchers came to conclusion based on the physiological characteristics of the human body that children learn from everyday experience. They state that a clear distinction between the cartoon characters and people in real life helps children acquire considerable experience, including the ability to distinguish between “realistic” and “fabulous” (Levin, Petros, & Petrellsa, 1982).
In addition to Hodge and his colleagues, psychologists Howard Gardner, as well as Patricia Morrison, also made several suggestions on how children evaluate and distinguish the concepts of “realistic” and “fabulous” on the TV screen. The researchers believe that some frightening images of cartoon characters as an incentive to the mental division and their people (animals) out of real-life on the TV screen (Morrow, 2006).
In similar studies and articles on the subject in leading international journals, the issue is discussed in the framework of the concept of “perceived reality.” This concept is an objective point of view, while the subjectivist point of view is represented by the approach modality judgments. Researchers Hodge and Tripp, in particular, represent the concept of modality judgments. In their article, “modality judgments” should be understood as the status of reality, in which the audience appreciates television programs (Pine & Nash, 2002).
The point at which the level of a single modality of the program is not obvious to a child (a quick transition from the strong modality to the weak modality) is the most difficult phase of the study. Hodge and Tripp noted that the judgments and estimates concerning children's “reality” TV programs are highly subjective, and it is hard to see any pattern. In addition, according to the researchers, they are particularly unstable and contradictory. Robert Hawkins, in his article “The Dimensional Structure of Children’s Perceptions of Television Reality,” uses a different term (Anderson, Huston, Schmitt, Linebarger, & Wright, 2001). There was always a proclivity to appeal to the perceived reality that it is “to comprehend the reality.” Hawkins thus argues that the use of this term has led to a loss of communication between the signifier and the signified (or elementary mythologizing, by Roland Barthes) while this concept is multidimensional (Anderson et al., 2001). In 1977, Robert Hawkins conducted a survey of 153 children at a fixed questionnaire and came to the following:
Given multiple perceived reality dimensions, developmental changes may take place along some dimensions but not others or changes may occur at different rates or times on different dimensions. Second, to make things even more complex, it is quite possible that children's dimensional structures themselves differ with age. (Certain & Kahn, 2002)
Chang (2000) stated the following:
The various dimensions of perceived reality and the development of cognitive structure can be measured by a variety of research methods used in modern science. Secondly, in order to come up with further generalization, it is possible to assume that the measurement structure of the child's perception differs Depending on the age and cognitive development step.
Most researchers subsequently borrowed the idea of Robert Hawkins. In particular, some terms, such as “magical window” and “social expectations,” are still used. At its core, a “magic window” should be an understandable phenomenon when children watch real events on TV. In turn, the “social expectations” are regarded as a degree of belief whether the TV heroes and events in social expectations and beliefs of the individual are internalized in the socialization process or not (Certain & Kahn, 2002). Despite the fact that the theorists’ views on the definition of the criteria by which they can identify children’s assessment of the status of the reality of media content may slightly differ, most of them consider “perceived reality” to be a multidimensional concept.
- What influence has the television on the eight-year-old children?
- What is the level of children’s disability to recognize the images on television and real life?
- What is the possible compromise?
The methodological basis for the work is determined by following the historical and functional as well as historical and problematic approaches to the study of the influence of television on the process of the formation of an individual’s spiritual and moral qualities. In the study subjects, genre characteristics and means of expression used television philological methods. In the comparison of the acting capacity of the various TV channels, comparative-typological and textual methods are used. However, a systematic approach to studying the issue involves treating the psychological, sociological, and cultural complex of scientific research methods, enabling many aspects to consider comprehensively researched the problem. It determines the nature of the involvement of modern television in the formation of the spiritual and moral values of the person.
The empirical base of the study includes:
- Transmission of television channels on federal have the most significant impact on the formation of spirituality and morality
- Content of regional channels in a particular region and significant issues in the context of the study
- Documents describing the activity of public and private broadcasters
- Systematic survey results of primary school children, their parents, caregivers, teachers, and students on the problems of the study.