Wondering how to raise kids and teenagers with good morals? Well, as it turns out, the stories they read greatly shape their values, according to a recent study by the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, stories with good morals will help bolster teenager morals! Read on to find out more…
Good Morals In Stories
As Lindsay Hahn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication at the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, explained, their recent study found at the the morals of entertainment play a large part in building the values in teenagers.
“Media can distinctly influence separate moral values and get kids to place more or less importance on those values depending on what is uniquely emphasized in that content,” Dr. Hahn said. Through the study, Hahn and her team looked at how different media influenced by children and teenager’s minds including social communication and moral values, including care, fairness, loyalty, and authority.
Interestingly, the study, published in the Journal of Media Psychology, found that reading about good morals builds teen morality. That’s right! “Parents, caregivers and teachers are often wondering how media can be used for good,” began Hahn. “How can it be used for good things? How can it discourage bad habits? How can it educate?” Now, we know how! “When parents are considering what media they might want to select for their children, they can take into account what particular moral value is being emphasized by the main character, and how the main character is treated because of those actions,” she explained.
Let’s take a look at exactly how Dr. Hahn and her team made their discovery…
A Guide Map for Teenage Morals
To complete the study, Dr. Hahn and her team selected one story, and then altered it to portray different morals. Four of the alteration portrayed one good moral: care, fairness, loyalty, or authority. The fifth portrayed the character as evil and amoral. Afterward, the kids answered questions about their interest and reaction the main character. Finally, the team created a scale designed to measure just how much importance the children and teens placed on the moral values and which they would take into their lives.
While the study certainly showed that children are influenced more by stories with good morals, there’s still a lot of work to do. “Measuring these effects can be difficult,” explained Dr. Hahn. “That’s why, in addition to testing our hypothesis, another purpose of this research was to develop a measure of moral values for kids. Nothing like that exists yet, that we know of.”
In the future, Dr. Hahn plans to continue working in this field, expanding on the research she’s already done. We can’t wait to see what she does next!