Sample Paper on Media Influence on Children

Media Influence on Children


Media and the society are two symbiotically related phenomena that affect one another at different levels. The media helps view the society in perspectives that are not common to many. Besides, it reveals by analyzing the various components of the society across all ages and sectors of the human population. The younger generations especially the youths and children are the most influenced by the media as it changes every aspect of their lives. Human rates of dynamics are common in the youth stage hence their fondness with the same (Richard, Christopher, & Bettina, 2012). The impact of media on young children is however great compared to any other generation or age group. Many parents and guardians have resorted to selecting only relevant programs for their children and other youngsters to watch, instead of allowing every media component to infiltrate in their young adults’ minds (Palmgreen, Donohew, & Harrington, 2001).

Sherry, (2001) has investigated the effects of media on young children under the age of ten and noted tremendous impacts of the same in changing the life systems of the concerned children. The theory of cognitive development states that the age of eight and fourteen years is considered great transitory period, as children undergo many psychological and emotional changes. He notes that the mind of young adults at this age is quite empty and fills up rapidly hence is likely to be utterly influenced by media programs in line with the media effects theory. Besides, it is very difficult for the young children at the age of 8-14 years to filter the media contents only to those that befit them. Any bad and good content can, for this reason, infiltrate their minds and sometimes cause harm to their lives. It is for this reason that Bushman & Anderson(2001), conclude that not all media content is suitable for children or human consumption. This paper is an investigation of the influence of the media on children.


The research is based on an experimental foundation that involves observing the behavior of a young child as he watches a favorite cartoon program on television. The study draws its conclusions based on critical analysis of the child’s behavior as observed during the study period regarding the extent of media infiltration in his activities. The child of the age of 8 year was selected purposively for this study owing to the many dynamics that take place in the mind at this age (Palmgreen, Donohew,, & Harrington, 2001). The child was allowed to watch the program for 45 minutes and the interviewed on various aspects to determine the level of influence the program has had in his life over the duration. The period of 45 minutes was chosen for the study about the limited concentration span of children in this age and the duration of the program. However, observations for the study began 10 minutes before the commencement monitoring process and ended 10 minutes after the end of observations. This was meant to observe the behavior of the child before, during and after the running time for the program.

According to Sherry, (2001) interesting programs usually capture the minds of children to the end. Children are categorical when choosing their favorite programs on television. Sherry, (2001) investigated the various factors that determine children’s choice of their television programs. Some of the most influential factors he discovered included length of the program, which resonates with the child’s concentration span, instances of interesting facts on the move (most children go for programs that are funny of full of jokes); hence the choice for a cartoon program. A highly integrated interview session was then conducted with the child to determine his perception concerning the program and television viewing based on two indices: the aggregate amount of television viewing and the public affairs viewing levels.

The aggregate viewing was determined by asking questions relating to the average number of hours the child watched programs on television in a day. This was based on the recall time of the child. A period of one week was designed for this recall time. This is because the recall ability of a child is low compared to that of adults coupled with the fact that there were no previous recording of the amount of viewing time by the child in the previous sessions. The public affairs viewing level on the other hand was determined by administering questions that covered the child’s view of the national network newscasts, local newscasts, and other discussions, as well as live interview programs.

Finding and discussion

The program observed was preceded by a soap opera and a short period of commercial advertisements that passed with very limited child’s concentration although he was present. He spent much of his time playing with a doll. Observations before the commencement of the program proved that the child had no interest in the programs that came with his favorite program. Minimal interest was shown on the preceding program apart from instances that included light jokes and funned. Despite these scenes bearing a lot of symbolic meanings, the child did not seem to have a deeper understanding or interest in them. He merely concentrated on the surface jokes and funs depending on their levels of interest.  The period of the cartoon program was characterized by a lot of calm and utter concentration on every aspect of the movie as it ran through. He laughed consistently and the meanings of words, complexity of the scenes unveiled and the traits of various characters in the movie. I was conversant with the program, but he explained everything to me to the level of my acquaintance. I was able to follow the program adequately under his guidelines.

It was possible to tell the child’s knowledge of the characters and their behaviors given his prior knowledge and ability to predict the comings scenes and behavioral characteristics of most of the characters. The program runs daily on a local channel between 5.05pm and 5.50pm. Interviewed on his favorite channel, he responded in favor of the local channel that aired his favorite program. This observation was consistent to Bushman & Anderson, (2001) observation that children tend to be fond of channels that aired their favorite programs. Besides, the influence of the parents on children’s choice of favorite programs viewed on televisions is of great notice. The child observed responded that his mother loved the program and encouraged him to like it. Several programs are aired on the channel daily.

Given a lot of school work and numerous assignments that the child had to attend to after school, the child was required to voluntarily choose one program that did not interfere with his studies as well as captivating to him. His mother then went ahead to influence his choice by encouraging his and even sometimes watching with him in order to motivate his choice. The media effects theory developed by George Gerbner states that the choice of a program is based on six factors: (1) the social and psychological origins, (2) the viewer’s needs which influence their (3) expectations on the (4) media resource selected. These leads to (5) differential patterns of media exposure hence the (6) need gratification (Juliann & Alan, 2010). These factors then influence the viewer’s attention, emotions, learning/memory, motivation and perception (Bushman & Anderson, 2001). In this case, the child’s mother acted as the gratifying factor as the media resource, the program, influenced the child’s emotions, patterns of behavior as well as expectations. Observations on the behavior of the child after the program showed a strong admiration for the protagonist in the program as he described it as his role model, a giant man with strong muscles that tore every other antagonist into pieces.


The media and society affect one another at different levels. The influence is, for instance, higher on young children compared to adults. Young children tend to admire and consequently imitate the main characters in the programs they like most. Besides, channels that air their favorite programs become their favorite. In addition, parents have a lot of influence on children’s choice of their favorite programs as well as TV channels.















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Palmgreen, P., D. L., & Harrington, N. G. (2001). Sensation seeking in anti-drug campaign and message design. In (Eds.), Public. In R. Rice, C. Atkin, & 3rd (Ed.), communicationcampaigns (pp. 300–304). ThousandOaks,CA: Sage.

Richard, C., Christopher, M., & Bettina, F. (2012). Media Essentials: A Brief Introduction (2nd ed.). New York: Paperback.

Sherry, J. L. (2001). Toward an etiology of media use motivations: The role of temperament in media use. Communication Monographs , 68 (3), 274–288.