“Media effects on minors” by Salokoski & Mustonen

A Report Media effects on minors – review of international research and practices of media education and regulation (Salokoski & Mustonen) has been recently published.

Sonja Kangas has already made some insightful comments on it. I choose to comment the report from the other point view, as I find some premises and facts in the report problematic.

Salokoski and Mustonen, e.g., allege that the children learns the grammar of pictorial media between 3 and 6. As an example they mention that children starts to understand that when camera zooms to a target, the target does not grow (Salokoski & Mustonen, 2007).

Why the children would have that kind of conception of zooming? Their everyday experiences does not support that: in everyday life when something grows suddenly, that thing gets closer. There are multitude of research that argue, and present evidence for support the argument, that presentations (schemas, or scripts) of the possible actions (e.g., touching the target) influence the perception and judgments. (See, e.g., Niedhental et al, 2005; Noë, 2004; Gallagher, 2005). Is there any empirical support for the claims posited by Salokoski & Mustonen on the grammar of visual media?

In addition, Salokoski & Mustonen (2007) seems to assume that understanding requires concepts: e.g., understanding that things are persistent (something exists even it is hidden) requires understanding the concept of persistence that is developed around the age of two according to Salokoski and Mustonen (2007). This is very problematic if I assume that Sthey use the term concept to refer to linguistic constructs. Again, I think that is no reason to assume that one require a concept persistent to understand persistence. Moreover, Meltzoff & Moore (1995) discuss experiments where an object moves and in the middle it is a short while hidden. They repost that 5-month old infants trace moving objects with their gaze and respond violations, such as object that the object is a ball before occlusion and square after occlusion, differently than without a violation. They also assert that 9-month old children responds to violations of permanence (Melzoff & Moore, 1995). This research contest the timeline of the children’s development asserted by Salokoski & Mustonen.

Above mentioned assumptions (by Salokoski & Mustonen, 2007) seem to be invalid. Thus, arguments presented in the report may also (at least partially) be invalid.

References

  • Gallagher, S. How the body shapes the mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Melzoff, A. & Moore, M. (1995) Infants’ understanding of people and things: From body imitation to folk psychology. In Bermúdez, J. Marcel, A. & Eilan, N. (eds.). The Body and the Self. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 43–69.
  • Niedenthal, P., Barsalou, L. Winkielman, P., Gruber, S. & Ric, F. Embodiment in attitudes, social perception, and emotion. Personality and Social Psychology Review 9(3), 184–211.
  • Noë, A. Action in perception. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  • Salokoski, T. & Mustonen, A. (2007). Median vaikutukset lapsiin ja nuoriin – katsaus tutkimuksiin sekä kansainvälisiin mediakasvatuksen ja -säätelyn käytäntöihin [Media effects on minors – review of international research and practices of media education and regulation]. Available http://www.mediaeducation.fi/publications/ISBN978-952-99964-2-1_taittamaton.pdf.
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