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How Social Learning Theory Explains Friend Manipulation by Children upon Watching Television Shows

The social learning theory explains how a person learns new behavior and ideologies by observing other people around them. This is known as observational learning or modeling. This theory explains that children learn by observing what other people are doing. In this era or media influence, the televisions have become the greatest source of influence for children. When a child sees something violent in the television set, they will internalize it in their brain and try to act it out. This will be directed to whoever is closest to them, be it their parents or fellow children. The process takes place in a number of steps. The first step involves giving attention to the action. The second step involves retention of the content. After retaining this information, a child will then try to act upon the information by repeating it. This is the reproduction stage. The last step involves finding motivation to repeat the action over and over. This theory has been used by the teaching fraternity for a long time. Nowadays the focus has shifted and the theory is being used by the media to brainwash young children all in the name of increasing viewership. 

Crime rate in the country has gone up significantly. In a span of five years, the likelihood of a juvenile arrest has gone up by 53%. Probability of a violent crime has also gone up by 40%. These have been motivated by factors such as poverty, stress, alcohol and media influence (Christopher, 2011). Among the motivators, alcohol is the leading one followed by media. Crime statistics are higher in large cities as compared to smaller cities. Suburban neighborhoods also report a significantly higher crime rate as opposed to rural areas. The USA is ahead of most countries in the world in terms of crime reporting. However, when compared against the population level, smaller countries especially in Asia have a higher crime density than the USA. The country, however, has the highest incarceration rate compared to any other country in the world (Prisoners in 2012). This is of immense demographical significance, especially considering that a country like China, which has over a billion people has less people in prisons. New Jersey is classified together with other urban cities. The crime rate has resin significantly in sections such as violent robbery murder, and rape. Children participation in violent activities is also an unfortunate occurrence that has rocked the country.

The first article talks about how media violence affects children and adolescents. Violence is not a new problem in the society, but it is increasing rapidly (Beresin, 2011). There have been increased incidences of shooting in schools and youth homicides. This could be attributed to increased exposure to televised violence. The article goes ahead to talk about the relationship between televised violence and aggressive behavior in teens. The statistics on children and violence are chilling. Before the age of 18, a child will have watched over 20000 scenes of violence including murder. Even cartoons have incorporated violence in the program content. Before the age of 4 children will have fantasized with these acts and are likely to involve in them as they grow up. Music videos are also an avenue for promoting personal violence.

The second article talks about how parenting has fallen from the hand of parents to the television sets. Children get all their information from the media and are unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy (Donner, 2011). The article includes research results that show how crimes such as murder and burglary are on the rise. With violence being present in all production even news bulletins, children cannot be spared. Also, all forms of social interactions have been overtaken by televisions. Children no longer play physical games such as soccer of swimming. Most of their leisure time is spent watching movies or video games. The article encourages parents to regulate television viewing or encourage their children to do other time involving activities that do not encourage violence.

The third article takes a slightly different angle on media and violence in children. According to the statistics, a child will spend more than 90 hours a week watching television (Media Influence on Children, 2010). More than half of this time will be on violent or suggestive content. This exposure can cause distress and emotional imbalance in children and youth. The writer, however, goes ahead to say that media violence is not the single factor that causes teens to be aggressive. Their upbringing is also paramount. Children who grew up with abusive parents are more likely to show violent behavior regardless of their exposure to the television. Children from rough neighborhoods are also more likely to show signs of violence than those who grew up in quite suburbia. When it comes to television influence, the article says that children will imitate the actions of characters who seen heroic. Other characters, no matter how violent may not have the same impact to children behavior. It also says that the media content will affect children whose cognitive skills are developed as opposed to younger ones who cannot digest the content of the media.

The first article offers direct linkage to the social learning theory. It talks of how children direct what they see in the television to their surrounding environment. That is why they end up becoming violent at a young age. By expose to violence at a young age, they are able to retain this content in their head for a long time and manifest it afterwards. The issue of music videos also supports the theory. This is because music is an aspect of society that children will identify with. They will memorize the lyrics and dance to the beat. This violent message will then be implanted in their head and soon they will start acting according to the message.

The second article is also in alignment with the theory. Since children are no longer fed with positive information, they will digest the negative ones and become corrupted at a young age. These children will hence practice what they see. In the past children were peaceful because they engaged in activities such as games and social interactions. That was before the world became concentrated with media, and even worse, the internet. Nowadays children will feed their young minds with things that will not necessarily help them.

The third article contains evidence of how media will influence a child’s mind. The issue of cognitive ability supports the claim that a person has to internalize violence so as to practice it. This means that violence will be implanted in the mind and brought out in actions. Without this understanding, one cannot claim to learn anything. This is why the theory does not work for infants. At their age, the do not have the cognitive abilities to comprehend media violence.

If the media fraternity is not held accountable for the content they air, soon the society will be corrupted beyond repair. A person is determined by the content which they internalize. The current media trends are raising a generation that will not be able to steer the world into the future. Parents and the government alike need to join hands so as to regulate media influence on children.

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