The Effects of Media Violence

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       The Effects of Media Violence
Since the 1950’s when television became a national pastime, media violence and aggressive
behavior among children and young adults have increased dramatically. Is there a significant
association between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior? Studies have shown
that watching television is one factor on youth violence and aggressive behavior, while continued
research has proven other risk factors are at fault such as violent video games, bad parenting, and
the communities these children grow up in. On the positive side, research has found that the
effects of exposure to media violence can be reduced with monitoring of parents and professional
attention. The illustration below shows that too much exposure to television can lead to
aggressive behavior among children and young adults. (Ledingham, Richardson, 1993)
While children watch an average of 28 hours of television a week, studies show that same
aggressive behavior after playing video games, watching movies and cartoons; even now the
internet will encourage these same behaviors. At least two-thirds of U.S. kids have a TV in their
bedrooms; half have a VCR or DVD player, half have a video game console, and almost one-
third have Internet access or a computer (Jungbauer, 2009). This, naturally, makes monitoring
media use difficult. “Children learn by observation and are especially vulnerable to fictionalized
violent acts such as verbal and physical aggression; children learn fear, mistrust, and decreased
sensitivity to violence in real life” (Smoots, 2003). Parents have the opportunity to control verbal
and physical behavior among children and young adults. Parents can easily walk away and take a
timeout from certain situations before “blowing up”. Parents can monitor children’s media diet
by watching what video games are being played and television shows are being viewed. Thus, on
the parent’s belief, parents can decide on what children watch and play. Parents can take into
consideration by doing the following: set limits by reducing media time to 1-2 hours a day,
discuss the program-by asking questions about the show, use screening options such as V-chip,
and plan a viewing time to watch television and to play video games together. As the illustration
below shows an example of children not being monitored of what they watch. Researchers
believe without the monitoring of television viewing and playing video games among children
and young adults lead to the aggressive behavior. (Ledingham, Richardson, 1993)
Over the years research has shown a strong relationship between viewing violence in television
and playing video games have made children and young adults to become more aggressive in
behavior. Research has shown that playing violent video games is becoming a high risk factor
among children and young adults in today’s society. But as of today there have not been
extensive studies that prove violent video games make children and young adults aggressive.
“The number of studies investigating the impact of such games on youth aggression is small,
there have been none on serious violence, and none has been longitudinal” (Youth Violence,
2008). One of the main focuses on media violence has become the research on video games and
violence, what it contains and the affects it has on children and young adults today. For example,
some researchers claim it was a video game (Doom) that sparked the shootings at Columbine
High School back on April 20, 1999. There were other factors included such as problematic
parents, racism, and watching violent movies-Natural Born Killers for one example.
For researchers to blame that shooting at Columbine High School on one video game (Doom) is
all wrong, researchers need to gather more facts and information instead of jumping to
conclusions. “Other risk factors like society, parents, and communities can be an influence on
children and young adults as well” (Da-Wei, W. 2007). By monitoring the exposure to such as
violence in society, parents, communities, television and video games, children and young adults
can benefit from media culture. In the chart below it shows that youth violence was higher in the
early 90’s when video games were not so popular. As video games became popular in the late
90’s throughout the 00’s youth violence had declined and has leveled out. Researchers need to
start looking at these other factors and what is causing children and young adults this aggressive
behavior instead of just video games. (Ferguson, C. J. 2009)
Is there a strong relationship between video games and aggressive behavior among children and
young adults? There may be certain individual with aggressive behavior and might be affected by
the exposure of violent video games, but this is still not determined. More negative results come
from violence in the media and watching television than video games. Research suggests that not
all youths are affected in the same way by viewing media violence and playing violent video
games. Factors that appear to influence the effects of media violence on aggressive or violent
behavior include characteristics of the viewer such as age, intelligence, aggressiveness, and
whether the child perceives the media as realistic and identifies with aggressive characters
(Youth Violence, 2008). In general, children and young adults who already have high aggressive
attitude would be more affected than those who are not as aggressive.
Children and young adults do not understand the consequences of violent media; they believe
violence is the way to handle situations out in the real world. For example “studies have shown
that children who watched a relatively aggressive cartoon of Woody Woodpecker, researchers
have discovered that the children who watched this aggressive cartoon became more violent and
aggressive towards classmates” (Coleman, 2010). Researchers said despite all the studies on
aggressive behavior, the more children and young adults are exposed to media violence the more
aggressive they become in adulthood. Other studies have shown that the examining of media
violence in a television show that the aggressor is being punished or the aggressor is being
rewarded (Coleman, 2010). The viewing of violent movies can be misleading by children and
young adults; media violence does have an overwhelming effect on children and young adults.
Although media violence definitely has a negative affect on children and young adults, some
researchers claim that there is a positive effect as well. Media violence does not have to impact
children and young adults like researchers claim it does. This is known as the Catharsis Theory,
which cites violent media as potential outlet for aggressive behavior and decreased real world
violence as a result (Da-Wei, 2007). In other words, if this theory is correct, then watching
violent television and playing violent video games can help relieve aggressive behavior and stop
aggressive behavior in the real world and among children and young adults. In the illustration
below it show an adolescent playing a video game, adult supervision can prevent children and
young adults from becoming aggressive. For example, preliminary data point to the potentially
vital role a parent in supervising children and young adult’s exposures to violent media and
violent video games in helping them interpret it (Youth Violence, 2008),(Awareness Network,
So let’s look at some other risk factors instead of blaming media violence and violent video
games among children and young adults. The children’s upbringing or home environment can
play an important role on whether they become aggressive or not. Parents, teachers, and even a
professional psychiatrist can help monitor what children and young adults watch and play at
home or in the classroom. Children whose parents and teachers discuss the situation about media
violence and violent video games tend to be less aggressive than those of parents that do not
discuss the situation about the violence behind violent television and video games. Other
suggestions are sitting down and watching violent television shows and playing video games
with the children and young adults. By doing so, parents can get a better understanding of what to
ask and discuss with children before aggressive behavior becomes a problem. With parents and
teachers having the knowledge and understanding what children and young adults are viewing
will help in explaining what is wrong and what is right. Communities is another risk factor, if
children and young adults are seeing violence out in the streets “the real world” they may tend to
think that violence is the way to handle situation and become aggressive. This can be avoided by
having children and young adults becoming more active in church organization do community
service and have parents put a curfew on the children. This will help not letting the children stay
out so late to view violence in the street after hours.
Children and young adults who have good relations with an adult or other peer who support
conventional behavior and disapprove of delinquent behavior can provide invaluable guidance
for young people. “Researchers agree that having a loving adult who is interested in and
supportive of a child or young person’s ideas and activities helps that child or adolescent develop
the confidence and competence needed to progress from one stage of development to the next”
(Youth Violence, 2008). In the illustration below it shows how parents can become a better a
better parent by paying attention to children and young adults.
Equally important; start early as possible when influencing children and young adult about the
exposures of violent television and violent video games. “It is easier to enforce rules with
younger children than with older ones, and younger children are the ones who appear to be more
sensitive to the negative effects of video violence” (Ledingham, Richardson, 1993).
Over the past 50 years researchers on violent television and violent video games revealed
evidence that media violence increase the aggressive and violent behavior in both children and
young adults. Between the positive and negative there is a solution to correct the aggressive and
violent behavior. Parents can monitor the use of television and video games. Spend more time
with the children and young adults, understand what they are watching or playing, make time to
be with the children and young adults. With just a few adjustments in parents busy schedule can
improve the outcome of children and young adults. Communities, religious organizations,
teachers, and society can teach parents and children to be more aware of media violence and the
effects it has on today’s children and young adults. There is no less violence in today’s media. In
my opinion, media violence and parents need to take a closer look at what is becoming of today’s
children and young adults, before it gets out of control. With technology, professionalism, and
children being monitored, it can be controlled.

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