For Immediate Release — Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo professor takes new approach to media violence research

GENESEO, N.Y. — State University of New York at Geneseo Associate Professor of Psychology Steven Kirsh has released a new book, "Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence" (Sage Publications). The book looks at media research from a developmental perspective, which explores the impact that different forms of media have on specific age groups rather than children in general.

"Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence" is a review of the current literature on media violence and its effects on youth. "This is a good primer for understanding what the research actually says and why it says what it says without being overly technical," says Kirsh.

Kirsh has been teaching at Geneseo for the past nine years and media research has been his primary research interest for nearly as long. The book grew out of a class that he teaches, but he first got the idea from a student researching video games while Kirsch taught at Washburn University in Topeka in Kansas.

The topic of media effects on children and adolescents has garnered a great deal of attention lately. In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission received approximately 200,000 complaints regarding indecency in television and radio programs.

Kirsh's book looks at many theories about the consequences of media violence. Some of these theories have very little scientific support, such as the idea that violent media is actually good for youth. This argument alleges that it provides an outlet for aggression, however, it is backed only by anecdotal evidence, according to Kirsh. Where Kirsh's work stands above the growing body of research is how he puts these theories into the context of other psychological factors.

The book is divided into three parts. The first section puts media research in the context of aggression research and takes into account different reasons that adolescents have for consuming media. The second section addresses research into the effects of different types of violent media on children and adolescents. The third section reviews non-media-related factors for aggression in order to evaluate the relative risk associated with media violence.

Each chapter begins with an anecdote. In the final chapter, the book broadens its perspective, looking at the potential effects of all, not necessarily just violent, media. This is what Kirsh plans to focus on in the future.

Though the book does pull together a wide body of research, it is not overladen with jargon. "Anyone who reads this would gain a good understanding of the research," attests Kirsh. "A parent could read this."