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Friday, February 23, 2007

She’s asking for it

I don’t think ‘we get’ how powerful moving images with sound really are for Human Beings, in terms of captivating our attention will switching off our critical thinking faculties, television has a power for influence that we are only now, decades after its invention, starting to understand.

I always put the boot into Ronald because of his marketing directly to children through television, that box in your corner has the ability to brainwash you and your kid in ways you won’t even notice and don’t get me started on infants watching television. The American Academy of Pediatrics launched a ‘No TV for under 2’s campaign in 1999 after more and more research showed that infants under two, a time when the wiring of the brain is at it’s most critical, that infants under 2 watching TV has a negative effect on the forming of the frontal lobes, an area of the brain that in later life helps you with empathy and understanding the consequences of your actions.

Let’s just think about that – we have a generation that has been swamped by media from their birth, the consequences of which are only being understood now. We have a generation of young people who are conditioned to react rather than think out their consequences. How many times have you had a friend who has done something dumb, and when you ask them, why did you do it, their answer, “I dunno” - they literally didn’t see the consequences of their actions.

In her article, “Baby Einstein? Baby Exploitation, Dr Susan Linn spells out the facts Pediatricians now agree are the results from infants under two watching television…

1.) TV viewing for babies and toddlers can be habituating.

2.) Research suggests TV viewing for our youngest children is associated negatively with cognitive development, language development, and regular sleep patterns.

3.) The more time babies spend viewing TV the less time they spend interacting with parents or engaging in creative play.

4.) TV time for babies and toddlers may be a factor in developing attention problems and score lower on IQ and academic tests in grade school.

5.) TV viewing is correlated with obesity.

6.) For children under 3, watching TV is linked to an increase in bullying behavior.

7.) A recent study suggests that TV viewing may be a factor in autism.

And in case you were wondering how serious this problem really is, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that in America, 61% of babies One and younger watch 1.20 hours of screen media each day. We have created a media generation who lack the actual cognitive tools to see the consequences of their actions but want to arrest them and charge them like adults.

But it doesn’t just stop there, our consumer culture and the mass media brainwashing that sell us neurosis each day and makes us feel isolated from one another plays a role. Every day, each one of us is bombarded by thousands of media images designed to play on our natural human fears of rejection: YOU’RE TOO UGLY – YOUR EYELASHES AREN’T FAT ENOUGH – YOUR SMILE NEEDS TO BE WHITER – YOU NEED THIS THING TO BE HAPPY. We feel isolated and alienated, our fears are sold to us and we react by buying them in the hope that lip gloss will make me sparkle like it does for Paris Hilton.

Is it any wonder that in such a media environment that people withdraw to the internet? Is it any wonder that we have a socially inept society when infants are swamped by Television that actually stunts their cognitive ability?

Which all leads us to this new research that shows the sexualisation of young girls in the media has had a direct and negative effect on the way young girls see themselves. Some NZers would argue that we should never look at ‘root causes’ behind actions, but the research keeps coming back to tell us that the ‘root causes’ are more relevant and prevalent than every before.

Sexualisation 'harms' young girls
The media's portrayal of young women as sex objects harms girls' mental and physical health, US experts warn.
Magazines, television, video games and music videos all have a detrimental effect, a task force from the American Psychological Association reported. Sexualisation can lead to a lack of confidence with their bodies as well as depression and eating disorders. Such images also have a negative effect on healthy sexual development in girls, the researchers said. The task force was set up after mounting "public concern" about the sexualisation of young girls. Research on the content and effects of television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, films, video games and the internet was analysed. Recent advertising campaigns and merchandising of products aimed at girls was also scrutinised. Sexualisation was defined as occurring when a person's value comes only from her or his sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is portrayed purely as a sex object. They gave examples of a trainer advert that featured pop star Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop. According to the research identified by the task force, such images and promotion of girls as sexual objects negatively affects young girls in many ways.


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