The following six questions are addressed in a critique of an article entitled: Controversial Rap Themes, Gender Portrayals and Skin Tone Distortion: A Content Analysis of Rap Music Videos. This article was published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and written by Kate Conrad, Travis Dixon, and Yuanyuan Zhang. Kate and Yuanyuan are PhD students in the Department of Speech Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Travis is Assistant Professor of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Q1: Does the program address age-related patterns of disorder and competence? From the description of the program provided, it appears that this program does address age-related patters of disorder and competence, however this is inferred. The methods section of this article describes the sample as consisting on 93 sixth graders from five different classrooms in three towns in the Northeast. In statistical analyses, this sample of six graders was compared to a control group of 34 fifth graders from two different classrooms in two of the three same towns.
The author indicates sixth graders were selected because they are considered old enough to have developed the cognitive skills and scholastic abilities to follow the curriculum. This assertion is supported with citation from numerous published research including: Flavel, Flavel, Green & Korfmacher, 1990; Singer, Zuckerman & Singer, 1980; Suddendorf, 1999). Additionally, fifth and sixth graders were selected because they are considered old enough not to be frightened or disturbed by violent images that were analyzed in the study (Cantor, 1994). And finally, sixth graders are considered young enough chronologically to still be forming patterns for media consumption, as well as opinions regarding mass media. The author and other scholars believe these opinions may persist into adulthood as supported by Comstock & Scharrer, 1999).
Q2: Does the program target the appropriate age group? This rationale for selecting this age group is outlined in the response above. Just to recap, sixth graders were selected because: • They are believed to have the cognitive and scholastic abilities to follow the curriculum. • They are considered old enough not to be frighten or disturbed by violent images • They are considered young enough to still be forming patterns of media consumption • They are considered young enough to still be forming opinions about mass media
Q3: Does the program include a representative sample? Based on the information presented in the article, this program does not include a representative sample of all sixth graders. The author addresses sampling issues in the discussion of limitations. “….control group members were fifth graders, whereas treatment group members were sixth graders. Although statistical analysis accounting for previously existing differences in comprehension and critical thinking about media violence alleviates this limitation, it is nonetheless a flaw in the design.”
Q4: Does the program address relevant contexts? Based on the information presented in the article, this program addresses relevant contexts in the following ways: 1. The school as a social context and an appropriate setting to access children in this age group 2. Media literacy as a socially relevant ‘context’ to encourage students to become active consumers of the media by questioning media practices, messages, and effects. 3. Violence in media that is consumed by children in this age group because violence is the primary concern among a list of ethical issues pertaining to entertainment media content (Lind & Rarick, 1992). 4. The “high-risk” factors in the portrayal of TV violence are relevant context because they are believed to constitute a particular high risk for older children and adolescents (ages 7-18) due to their association with aggressive outcomes in this age group.
Does the program address relevant developmental tasks? Based on the information presented, this program addresses relevant developmental tasks for the sample. Students preexisting comprehension of concepts and critical thinking about ethical issues associated with media were measured.
A part of the study procedure was to introduce, define, discuss each high-risk portrayal factor and discuss the general conclusions drawn from the literature pertaining to each factor. Discussion was a key component of the procedure and this may or may not have been developmentally appropriate even though the author indicates special emphasis was placed on why each factor was associated with a heightened risk of learning aggression.
Additionally, the author uses ‘ethical responsibilities and social responsibilities’ of ‘media producers’ and whether and how media should be ‘regulated’. These concepts may be understood by some of even many in this population, however this information was not provided in the article.
How well does the program address relevant risk/protective factors? Based on the information presented in the article, the author does not explicitly state that knowledge, comprehension and critical thinking are protective factors, however this can be inferred based on the commonly held belief that increased critical thinking skills results in increased protective factors. Likewise, the lack of knowledge about violence and inadequate or poor critical thinking skills would result in increased risks.
Summarize your opinion about the feasibility and cost of this program. Based on the information provided, it is my opinion that this program is quite feasible particularly since it is only five 1-hour visits to the sixth-grade. Additionally, college students served primarily as staff further limiting the costs to implement this program and increasing the probability of it being sustained beyond the initial study if desired.
Summarize your opinion about the level of evidence demonstrated for this program based on the articles you reviewed. The level of evidence presented in this article seems sufficient in some of the assertions and less than sufficient in others. For example, the literature review in support of media literacy was sufficient. The assertions regarding ethics of media producers and that they should be socially responsible seemed more like conjecture, although I happen to agree.
Critical thinking is a central tenant to this research and the literature or ‘evidence’ regarding it was minimally adequate, although sufficiently cited. Space or word limitations often make it more difficult to thoroughly explicate the rationale in the background and significance section of an article such as this.