Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate

By Martin Barker; Julian Petley | Go to book overview

3

ELECTRONIC CHILD ABUSE?

Rethinking the media's effects on children

David Buckingham

The figure of the child is at the heart of the majority of debates about media effects. To some extent, this may be inevitable. Since ancient times, the idea of childhood has been invested with far-reaching hopes and anxieties about the future; and, as a highly visible manifestation of modern technology and modern culture, the same is true of the electronic media. The combination of the two is therefore bound to invoke profound concerns about the continuity of the social order and of fundamental human values. It is only natural that we should care about what our children will become.

What remains striking here, however, is that this combination is so often perceived in such negative terms. Children are seen here, not as confident adventurers in an age of new challenges and possibilities, but as passive victims of media manipulation; and the media not as potential agents of enlightenment or of democratic citizenship, but as causes of moral degradation and social decline. Children, it would seem, are unable to help themselves; and it is our responsibility as adults to prevent them from gaining access to that which would harm and corrupt them.

Among the enormous range of material which the media make available to children, it is the category of 'violence' which has, of course, remained the obsessive focus of adult concern. Media violence is seen, not only to encourage children to commit acts of violence, but as itself a form of violence against children, committed by adults whose only motivation is that of financial greed. In Elizabeth Newson's terms, media violence represents a form of electronic 'child abuse', which we must have the courage to regulate and resist. 1

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Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • References 25
  • 1 - The Newson Report 27
  • 2 - The Worrying Influence of 'Media Effects' Studies 47
  • Notes 60
  • 3 - Electronic Child Abuse? 63
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - Living for Libido; Or, 'Child's Play Iv' 78
  • 5 - Just What the Doctors Ordered? 87
  • References 108
  • 6 - Once More with Feeling 111
  • References 125
  • 7 - I Was a Teenage Horror Fan 126
  • 8 - 'Looks like It Hurts' 135
  • 9 - Reservoirs of Dogma 150
  • 10 - Us and Them 170
  • References 184
  • 11 - Invasion of the Internet Abusers 186
  • 12 - On the Problems of Being a 'trendy Travesty' 202
  • References 224
  • Index 225
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