Male Child Cognitive Development Thesis

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Male Child Cognitive Development

The objective of this work is to describe, compare and contrast the negative effects of media containing violence, including news, movies, cartoons and internet on the male child between the age of six to puberty and how that impacts their cognitive development, thinking,


The work of Gentile and Sesma (2003) entitled: "Developmental Approaches to Understanding Media Effects on Individuals" (2003) states that "in order to more fully understand media effects on children, it is first necessary to dispel some myths regarding media influences." Stated as seven myths about media effects are the following:

Media effects are simple and direct;

The effects of media violence are severe;

Media effects are obvious;

Violent media affect everyone in the same way;

Causality means 'necessary and sufficient';

Causality means immediacy; and 7) Effects must be big for them to be important; and (Gentile and Sesma, 2003)

Gentile and Sesma (2003) additionally state: "The effects that violent (or other) media may have on children and youth may be very different depending on the age of the child in question. As children face different developmental tasks, media are likely to have a greater or lesser effect depending on the specific issues the children are facing at that time."

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Gentile and Sesma (2003) relate that the key developmental tasks beginning at the 'Toddler'stage and ranging through the 'Adolescent' stage include the tasks as listed in the following figure.

Key Developmental Tasks - Toddlerhood through Adolescence

Source: Gentile and Sesma (2003)


Thesis on Male Child Cognitive Development Assignment

Gentile and Sesma (2003) relate that there are several capacities children develop during toddlerhood "that could be affected by media." Specifically, in the area of development of cognition, "children at this age develop the capacity for symbolic representation, including language." The language abilities of children grow into a "competent communicative manner to conduct conversations in a socially appropriate and culturally specific manner." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) It is during this stage that social gestures are emergent and this includes "conventional social gestures and symbolic gestures." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) During this stage, the child begins to conceive himself as distinct from others and yet the cognition of the child is "still constrained by limited memory abilities, a lack of logic and difficulty distinguishing what is real and what is fantasy." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) The "rules, norms and values" or society are acquired during the toddler stage through processes of socialization and children begin to perceive cues from others relating how to conduct themselves in situations that are either new or ambiguous. Rules and values become internalized during this stage.


The next stage of development, or that of 'early childhood' which is the age range of approximately 2 1/2 to 5 years of age, cognition of children is developed in the area of classification of characteristics that are shared such as "color, size, and shape" and as well organization learning begins in this stage as well as dimension particulars including size and height. During this stage, the child has a problem in information sorting in terms of attributing importance information, which requires a focus and irrelevant stimuli, which should be ignored. Gentile and Sesmas relate that during this stage of development 'children begin to develop what has been called a theory of mind'. During this stage, children "have difficulty differentiating their own point-of-view from that of others." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) During this age children acquire "scripts for types of behaviors..." And as well during this stage of development the preschooler "begin[s] acquiring gender-role concept and to conform to sex-typed behavior." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) During this stage, adult roles are explored during the child's play and the child identifies with adults and learns to mimic adults in terms of both behaviors and attitudes. The child learns self-control and self-regulation in this stage of development including: (1) delaying gratification; (2) tolerating frustration; and (3) adjusting or inhibiting one's behaviors to suit particular situational demands. (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) Emotional regulation takes place in this stage of development as well as does learning relating to the ability to feel guilt or pride in a genuine manner. In addition, empathy and aggression develop at this age.


During middle childhood, approximately six to twelve years of age the child develops an understanding 'between appearance and reality' and begins to view more than only one aspect of something at once. The child develops a feeling of competence and the "tendency to initiate activities, seek out learning experiences, and work hard to accomplish goals" during this stage of development. Children learn how to form friendships as well during this stage of development and as well learns how to "adhere to the group norms." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) The learning of cultural norms and values is important in the child's moral development.


The final stage covered in this study is the stage of adolescence, which is from approximately 13 to 18 years of age. In the area of development of cognition, the adolescent gains the ability to "think about abstract concepts and relationships among abstract concepts." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) The social development of the child at this stage involves developing the ability to "achieve deep levels of trust and closeness with both same-sex and opposite-sex peers." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) This stage of development involves the adolescent gaining a perspective of self as a "unique and independent" individual and body image develops during this stage as well.


One perspective of development is "via a risk and resilience perspective" and in contrast to the "normative approach of developmental tasks framework - every child is presumed to go through these phases, each with varying degrees of ease - a risk and resilience approach focuses on differential life experiences among children that may put them at risk for future maladapatation (risk factors) and those factors that serve to protect children from this risk exposure (protective factors)." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003) It is stated that exposure to media violence is a likely 'risk factor' for all children however, it is also stated that there may be additional risk factors for some children which serves to enhance the effects of media violence exposure while other children may have protective factors that serve to mitigate the exposure to media violence and its effects. The cumulative risk model has been proposed in which the more risks that the child encounters then the more likely that "problematic functioning" will occur. Additionally, some individuals are not as vulnerable as others to risk factors. This is termed to be 'resilience' and is the condition in which the individual "despite experiencing severe adversity...display normal or above normal levels of competence across an array of domains." (Gentile and Sesma, 2003)

The work of Nevins (2004) entitled: "The Effects of Media Violence on Adolescent Health" reports on violence in video games stating that most of the video games "...advance very limited notions of femininity and masculinity and instead, reinforce gender stereotypes. Typical male characters in violent video games have exaggerated physiques - muscular and large (Huntemann, 2004). This hyper-masculinity comes to be associated with violent behavior." (Nevins, 2004) Additionally, "Female characters in video games are not as prevalent as male characters. Their presence in video games is often peripheral and passive. However, when females are the primary character in video games (e.g. Lara Croft), they are often portrayed as sex symbols with disproportionate body measurements (e.g. big chest and tiny waist)." (Nevins, 2004) Even worse states Nevins is the disturbing gender stereotype which is "...perpetuated by video games is the sexual violence portrayed. The game Duke Nukem was the first to pair extreme violence and sex. Players are awarded bonus points for killing bound naked women who are tied to posts pleading 'Kill me, Kill me.' In Grand Theft Auto 3, the top-selling game of 2002, the player can beat prostitutes to death with baseball bats after having sex with them. In Panty Raider, the goal is to strip women to their underwear against their will. These games are not innocuous: they promote and reward violence against women. Despite the fact that such video games occupy a small percentage of the market, they remain very harmful to society, and particularly women, because they advance dangerous ideas regarding violence and sex.." (Nevins, 2004)

The work of Anderson, et al. (2003) entitled: "The Influence of Media Violence on Youth" reports that research has made examination of how music videos impact the aggressive thinking and attitudes of adolescents and that the work of Johnson, et al. (1995) in a randomly assigned group of African-American adolescents in an experiment in which young African-American men were found, after exposure to violent rap music videos, to have "increased endorsement of violent behavior in response to a hypothetical conflict situation." (Anderson, et al.,

Additionally, the work of Peterson and Pfost (1989) as cited in the work of Anderson et al. found that exposing males to nonerotic violent music videos led… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Male Child Cognitive Development.  (2008, November 1).  Retrieved August 11, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Male Child Cognitive Development."  1 November 2008.  Web.  11 August 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Male Child Cognitive Development."  November 1, 2008.  Accessed August 11, 2020.