Media, Children, and the Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives

By Dolf Zillmann; Jennings Bryant et al. | Go to book overview

14
EFFECTS OF MASSIVEEXPOSURE TO SEXUALLY ORIENTED PRIME-TIME TELEVISION PROGRAMMING ON ADOLESCENTS' MORAL JUDGMENT

Jennings Bryant Steven Carl Rockwell University of Alabama

Evidence has begun to mount that some of the most durable and important effects of watching television may come in the form of subtle, incremental, cumulative changes in the way we view the world (i.e., in our perceptions of social reality). We like to think of these subtle shifts in the way we think about things as stalagmite effects -- cognitive deposits built up almost imperceptibly from the drip-drip-drip of television's electronic limewater.

Today we would like to address one particular type of stalagmite effect, one that is seldom discussed in the scholarly community. That is the potential shifts in moral judgment that may come about from watching certain types of television. Moreover, we would like to look at this issue in the context of one of the least discussed and understood audiences for television -- young adolescents.

There are some very good reasons why scholars do not talk about moral judgment more than they do; and there are good reasons why we do not focus very much on adolescents as audiences for television. Let us begin with the latter.

Figure 14.1 plots the time Americans spend watching television compared with the time devoted to other daily activities, by age. As you can

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