Media violence seems to have the strongest impact on preschool children, in part because they are still learning social norms and inhibitions against behaving aggressively. Prosocial effects of watching television (media)are strongest for slightly older children, speaking at about age seven or eight. The influence of media on fear and anxiety is common throughout childhood, although the types of content that upset children differ with age. Younger children are frightened more by fantasy portrayals; older primary school children and preteens, more by realistic content, including the news.
Children differ in the degree to which they believe that what they see on the screen is realistic. When media story lines seem realistic, children are likely to pay closer attention to what they are watching and presumably exert more cognitive effort in processing the information. Shows perceived as being real may also encourage children to imagine themselves in the characters’ place. And indeed, television (media)violence has a heightened effect on children who perceive television (media)as realistic.
On the other hand, children who are able to discount television (media)as unrealistic will have a less intense fear reaction to a scary television (media)portrayal.
Other variable in children’s susceptibility to the media is the extent to which they identify with characters and real people featured on the screen. Children begin developing attachments to favorite media characters during the preschool years.
Over the last two decades, the internet has become truly widespread, and there is no doubt that these new means of communication influenced and profoundly changed many substantial aspects of our lives. Email usage became standard, online dating sites multiplied, social networks’ popularity has been spectacularly growing, all giving evidence of the noteworthy role that online communication plays in our moral standing nowadays and of the very different opportunities we have now as compared to the situation some twenty years ago.
It is probably the young people that are naturally the most apt to exploit fully these opportunities, and there are several ways in which the means of online communication may impact greatly on their life as compared to the generation of their parents.