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Levin: Kids are victims of media violence

Mills College Weekly

Last Thursday, many people in the Mills community joined
together to hear a lecture about marketing violence to

The speaker, Diane Levin, is a professor in the education
department at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts, and has
been studying the effects of violence in the media on children’s
play since 1985.

Levin was invited to speak at Mills by Judy Van Hoorn, a
professor in the Education department.

In her introduction of Levin, Van Hoorn said, “We welcome you to
Mills as a woman who speaks nationally [about these issues]…who
speaks out.”

In her lecture, Levin said that more than 50 percent of toys on
the market today are linked to media, and that since the
deregulation of television in 1984, most are marketed through

Children see violence through media, and according to Levin, are
able to act out this violence with the toys they are being

To illustrate her point she showed a slide of an action figure
from the movie Terminator III, which was approved for ages
five and up. She then noted that the movie was rated R, and that
because there is this toy for children, many parents think that it
is okay for them to watch the movie.

Another example was a toy from the movie Independence Day
that let the children “blow up” New York City. She said that after
the World Trade Center fell on Sept. 11, one child said, “Oh cool,
it looks just like Independence Day.”

Levin’s suggestions to parents for dealing with these issues are
to talk with the children about what they saw, sort out fantasy
from reality, and to talk directly about violence and mean-spirited

“Media culture is a big part of a child’s life,” said Levin. “It
is not just as simple as turning off the TV…I urge you to find
any way to change things for children.”

Most people in the audience found the lecture very useful.

“A lot of ideas were presented and it was really thought
provoking,” said senior Grace Kuan, a psychology major. “The real
test is when a child comes up to you and asks about violence.”

For more information about Diane Levin, go to the faculty page
on or for more information about commercialism of
children, go to