Viewing Violence

Madeline Levine, Author
Madeline Levine, Author Doubleday Books $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-47686-7
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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Levine--psychotherapist, consultant to preschools and elementary schools in the San Francisco Bay area and mother of three boys--has performed a valuable service for parents here by lucidly synthesizing four decades of research on the harmful effects of media violence on children. Graphic, gratuitous depictions of violence on television and in the movies, she concludes, encourage young viewers to act more aggressively, desensitizes them to real-world violence and instills a distorted, pessimistic worldview. Media violence also makes children more restless, more fearful and less creative. TV programs present limited options for girls and glorify violent solutions for boys. Levine traces the successive stages of cognitive, emotional and moral development, from preschoolers' magical, totally egocentric outlook to teenagers often coping with confusion, apathy and hopelessness. Using this developmental framework, she sets forth guidelines to help parents decide what kids should and shouldn't watch. Of particular interest, she finds that most children's cartoons are antisocial, violent, mindnumbing and inane. An annotated list of resources includes government agencies, TV networks, advocacy groups, organizations active in media literacy. (Oct.)
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