Put Your Gun Down!

For the past three summers I have worked at a day camp at a private school in my hometown.  I was given a great opportunity to work with children aged 3 to 9 of all characters, shapes, sizes and attitudes. One of the main rules at the Montessori school is no weapons, weapon noises, or weapon references were allowed while at school.  My original instinct was that most of these young children would have no idea what a weapon even looked like, let alone how or why to use one, but through my experience I have observed that it is common for a child as young as 3 years old to have more knowledge on violent weapons than I expected.

Throughout my three years as one of the main administrators at the Montessori school, I came across many incidents that involve violent activity. Whether it was verbal or imaginary weapon use, it always amazed me that despite being so young, they were very educated on weapons and violence in general. I realize that children today have easy access to numerous sources, such as cartoons, comics, and the worst culprit of today’s generation, video games, through which they can learn about violence. I guess I never realized how common and normal it is for average families to own a video game consol. When I was younger, it was the norm for families with young boys to own video games, which usually consisted of games for racing cars and the Super Mario Brothers. Today however, video games are used by both genders and are overall extremely more violent; therefore, children have easier access to being influenced by violence. According to theAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “children exposed to violence have shown that they can become ‘immune’ or numb to the horror of violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior with greater exposure to violence” (AACAP, 2006). This supports George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.

Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory deals with the idea of an excessive amount of one thing, (in this case violent television) leads to perceiving the world in that particular way. Gerbner focuses on heavy TV viewing and how those who are “heavy TV viewers become fertile ground for sowing thoughts of danger” (Griffin, 2009. p.353), meaning those who watch an extreme amount of violent television, will see the world as an unsafe and mean world. The children I work with are exposed to violence as young as 3 years old through sources such as television, but mainly video games. The AACAP states that video games have become more popular than movies and TV, and the realistic feel draws people of all ages in (AACAP, 2006). One way young children are exposed to the more violent genres could be through watching their parents playing these violent games, since adults today get a kick out of life-like gaming as well.

I believe the effect video games have on young children supports Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, expanding the theory further than the effects of television shows. It is amazing how vulnerable children are and through the massive amounts of violence I have witnessed, while teaching at the Montessori school, even though they think they are being playful, is mind-boggling. Hopefully the younger generations can learn about this theory and realize how influenced we can be, without even realizing it.

1. Children and Video Games: Playing with Violence. (2006, July). AACAP. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_video_games_playing_with_violence.

2. Griffin, E. (2008). Communication: A first look at communication theory (7thed.) Boston: McGraw-Hill



Mirror Mirror on the Wall…


We all remember the very first Walt Disney movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and how the wicked Queen constantly stood in front of her magic mirror, desperately wanting to be the fairest one of all. This scene can be taken as a literal example of Mead’s looking glass self phenomenon. The Queen is using the magic mirror to visualize herself as another would, even though she does not like what the mirror has to say. The evil Queen is more focused on the “I” and not the “me”; “the ‘I’ is forever elusive and the ‘me’ is the image of self seen when one takes the role of the other” (Griffin, 2009, p.63).

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is viewed as the one of many loveable Disney Princess movies, but now, as adults, we can examine different themes that we can apply in our studies.  It’s one thing to watch the movie and think “evil queen and good princess”, but now we can explore why the queen is evil and if that can be related to reality. The queen refuses to listen to what the mirror is telling her, just like if your friend or parent tells you something negative or something you do not agree with. The typical reaction is to dismiss or refute their opinion, or in the queen’s case, to kill Snow White.

In Griffin’s A First Look At Communication Theory, the looking-glass self is “the mental self-image that results from taking the role of the other; the objective self; me” (Griffin 63). This is the idea of viewing yourself through another person, but not knowing exactly what and how they think of you. There is no way of knowing exactly how another sees you, but through language and interaction, one can get an idea of how they are perceived. In “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the queen is an example of how humans are stubborn and even though we want to know how others view us, we do not always like what we see. The queen is more focused on the “I”, which is what we are born with knowing about ourselves and is too vague to pin point; therefore she did not communicate well with others learn her “me”. She is very reluctant towards the “me”, which is what we gain from others throughout our growing and maturing lives, she refuses to let others bring her down and will do anything in her power to be on top.

The looking-glass self idea is not the norm of continually asking people what they truly think of us, but rather, through communication and relationships, we are unconsciously getting an idea of how we are viewed through others. Symbolic Interactionism allows us to realize the meanings behind “I” and “me”, and how they differ. In my future relationships or conversations, I can focus on specific symbols and hints and maybe get a better idea of how I am seen from another person’s point of view.

Girffin, Em (2009). A First Look At Communication Theory. New York, NY.




About Amanda

Hello fellow bloggers, my name is Amanda Nurmi. I am majoring in Communication Studies with a mass media concentration, was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia and I am a sophomore at Longwood University. I am a recent member of Alpha Phi Omega, Longwood’s service fraternity. I will have a minor in Graphic Design along with my Communications degree and would like to apply my studies to the world of advertising and create logos or slogans for a children’s toy company.

One of my experiences using communication skills was in my Media and Society class; I had to apply what I have learned in public speaking to properly teach the class a specific critical issue. It was important to use sufficient eye contact, appropriate language, and to convey the message in a manor the audience can understand. I have also worked at a summer day care for three years, and had a chance to use my communication skills at it’s fullest. It was important to know how to communicate to the children in a way they can understand, which helped me relate to them. If things started to become chaotic, I would have to be quick on my feet and know how to redirect their attention to receive cooperation. It was also crucial to have good communicative skills with my co-worker and my boss to make sure we are all on the same page.



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