Strict Ethos And Moral Obligations In Place For Children’s Media Essay

Parents, teachers, elder siblings and even the extended family play a role in protecting the child. When it comes to media it only makes sense that publishers, authors, designers, animators, facilitators and any other adult involved in the creation of a project meant for the little ones are also responsible. Most of them clearly don’t take their jobs lightly. There are strict ethos and moral obligations in place for children’s media. Today, parents of 5-7 year olds are concerned about cyberbullying, time spent online, content that encourages harm to themselves, possible radicalization, engagement with strangers and advertising among others. These fears are definitely not unwarranted. Yet there remain things still hidden, that affect the child subtly but greatly. It is proven that children get affected emotionally by interacting with media, however, every evidence or discussion regarding this circles around social media or the news.

They also focus on the behavioral effects of violent and sexual content on mediums such as Television, Video games and New Media. What about other mediums such as radio and print? If one forgets for a second about concerns with mediums and looks into the content, then what about narratives with overly optimistic or overly depressive views of the world? Where anger is unwarranted and the emotions are displaced? Although there are many behavioral ramifications of such exposure, emotional development surely doesn’t concern itself with just those. Recognizing, expressing, and managing feelings at different stages of life is only possible if children learn along the way; if they can react appropriately, distinguish right from wrong and show empathy. The development of universal emotions, which include both positives and negatives are not just affected by their immediate surroundings but also the communications they subject themselves to anything that looks cute, has simple language and is supremely entertaining for children doesn’t indicate that it’s right for them. This stands true for any media. A very obvious example would be the SEO-optimized approach taken by recent YouTube videos. Take a popular song/poem + popular characters + colors + whatever else the algorithm spits out and behold! Children everywhere are mesmerized. They remove the very layer of ethics that humans brought in while making decisions to produce content. It’s nothing short of assault and definitely needs to be reigned in for control. We need to ensure that the content is appropriate not just for their academic, or social development, but also their mental and emotional development. And currently, nobody is questioning the level of emotions depicted in narratives.

As technology advances, a lot more will be possible without human intervention. But who should one trust? The publishers, the children or AI? Guardians and the industry need to work together and come up with new strategies to protect the children. Just how children aren’t left in the care of a stranger on the street or a person without first assessing if the they are violent, inappropriate or emotionally stable; they shouldn’t be left to access content alone, without the guardians getting acquainted with it first.

A vigilant future

Aristotle plays with your child. It sings lullabies and narrates bedtime stories, even tells parents when their favorite baby food runs out. A babysitter that aids parents in protecting and nurturing their children. It has a special place in the children’s bedroom, a major leap in parenting technology. Or Aristotle manipulates your child. It sings the child songs that subliminally refer to commercial products, subtly feeding information to the corporates that put him there. An AI device that snoops into children’s bedroom when no one is watching.

Mattel, that previously designed the Barbie that recorded your child for conversations, was back! Even though the giant followed a different path by deciding against launching Aristotle this time, it is definitely not the end of plausible assaults against children, right under parents’ noses. To ensure communications aimed at little children lead to a healthy emotional development, emotional analysis even though neglected in the past has become the need of the hour. One way to make emotional analysis a reality would be by relying on Application Program Interfaces. In an age where busy parents increasingly let the media do the parenting for them we need accurate tools that scan children’s media for a holistic emotional growth.

Emotion APIs currently aim at analyzing customer care and marketing communications. Since language can be vague, inconsistent and contradictory with ambiguities from differences in syntax and semantics, these become quite unreliable at their nascent stage. To top this, Emotion APIs for animation and radio are yet to be made. AI technology will certainly work against us if we don’t learn how to make it work for us. APIs algorithms may not be the best solution for now but they do show promise. A tool with such promise is the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer. ‘Built to help people assess and refine the tone in their communication’, giving insights about the emotional and language tones in text. With YouTube planning to release a non-algorithmic version of YouTube Kids app with new parental that only display handpicked videos by guardians, a different kind of shift can be seen. One where authorities understand the repercussions of leaving fragile minds in the hands of AI. If we go this route, another way to incorporate emotional analysis could be guardians alerting other guardians. Adding an emotional scale to rate children’s media, a website to share self-analysis or even word of mouth. The key here is to be vigilant about the issue. It needs to be kept in mind that content must be emotionally wholesome. Sensoring all the negative emotions may seem like the best way to protect children but they hamper emotional development in the long run. One must ensure emotions are appropriately used and conveyed. If the creators of content also show agency, the future looks very hopeful.

Due to the lack of reliable tools, accountable people trained to assess emotions can be recruited. There are many ways ensure children’s media has sound emotional messaging so children are safe with them in the times to come. Until then, as we move towards unchartered territories, trusting ones instincts seem like an unparalleled choice.

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