Full version Does Violence In The Media Create Violent Hostile Children?

Does Violence In The Media Create Violent Hostile Children?

This print version free essay Does Violence In The Media Create Violent Hostile Children?.

Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 02 February 2011

Words: 2694 | Pages: 11

It was only eight years ago when the unthinkable became reality. Two teenagers, by the name of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The two murdered thirteen and wounded twenty-three others before they turned the guns on themselves (Shin, 2006). “How is it that these boys were able to do what they assume it was the influence of the video game Doom. The two boys spend most or their time playing it and were even able to create their own versions of it. They even created a website where others could play their new game. Was this the source of the Columbine massacre? In order to answer this question, one must take a look at today’s society. As technology continues to improve, people are becoming more and more dependent on the media as the main source of knowledge. Although everyone is affected by the media, it has been proven that children are targeted the most. According to the parents in the Media in the Home 2000 study, children spend 6 and one-half hours with media each and every day (Children,” 2002). Everything from television, to video games, to movies, and to music impacts the children’s lives everyday. The violent media, with its negative images and lyrics, appears in our everyday lives delivering wrongful messages to our youth; therefore, it influences them to act out what they see on television and hear on the radio.

Over the years, entertainment has truly evolved. Yes, violence has always played a role in entertainment, but in recent years, it is noticeable that media violence has not changed. In other words, the entertainment industry sees more violence as a means of making more money. Not only has violence increased in quantity, but in quality as well. It has become more graphic, more sexual, and more sadistic (“Violence,” 2006). Television shows, movies, and video games have become know for emphasizing slow-motion bullets towards people’s chests and dead bodies surrounded by pools of blood. Then, song lyrics constantly advertise shootouts by opposing gangs. “The media offers entertainment, culture, news, sports, and education. It is an important part of our lives and has much to teach; however, some of what is teaches may not be what our children need to learn” (Understanding,” 2004). Violent crimes have increased by more than 560% since 1960. This increase can be accredited to the increase of violence in the media and entertainment (Smithouser & Waliszewski, 2001).

Of all the sources of media, television is the number one source that impacts children’s lives. By the time a child turns 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed, on average, 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders, o the television (“Children,” 2002). I found from a survey of twelve that 91% of children watched some sort of violence as a child. Of that 91%, 25% reported that they watched a lot of violence as a child. In a recent interview, police offer Vernon Bass says that of the number of troublemakers that he sees on a regular basis, they spend at least 90-95% of their time watching television. It is nearly impossible for teenagers to bypass violence because 61% of television programs contain some form of violence. Then, of that 61%, 41% of those violent scenes contain humor. So, not only is a violent message being sent, but it also makes violence seem humorous, as if it is a joke (“Children,” 2002). Violent television shows are aimed at teenagers and younger children. The more violent cartoons and programs tend to be aired around the time most children will be arriving home from school (Chidley, 1996). Children who watch significant amounts of violent television are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, attitudes and values (“Children,” 2002). Studies show that children who watched many hours of violence on television when they were in elementary school tended to show w higher level of aggressive behavior when they become teenagers. Psychologists L. Rowell Huesman and Leonard Eron also found that children who were entertained by a large amount of television violence at a young age were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults (“Violence,” 2006). Out of the students survey for this project, only one person had either been arrested or served jail time.

The amount of violence a child is exposed to differs between ages. It is obviously that a young child may be susceptible to violent entertainment, but due to their short attention span, they will not focus on it very long. On the other hand, the older a person gets, the longer he or she will pay attention and will also be able to understand what is happening. Infants can pay attention to an operating television set for short periods of time, but the attention demands a great effort and infants are usually more interested in their own activities. Even when they do pay attention to the television, infants likely miss most of what adults consider to be program content. Children do not become full-fledged “viewers” until around the age of two-and-a half. As toddlers, they begin to pay more attention to the television set when it is on, and they develop a limited ability to extract meaning from television content. They are likely to imitate what they see and hear on television (Smithouser & Waliszewski, 2001). Elementary school age children develop the attention span and cognitive ability to follow plots and to recognize motivations and consequences to characters’ actions. During adolescence, the middle school to high school years, children become capable of high levels of abstract thought and reasoning. Even though they have these skills, they rarely use them when watching television, continuing to invest little mental effort. They watch less television then they did when they were younger, and watch less with their families. They tend to develop a preference for music videos and horror movies. Adolescents in middle school and high school are much more likely than younger children to doubt the reality of television content and much less likely to identify with television characters. The small percentages of those who continue to believe in the reality of television and to identify with its violent heroes are the ones likely to be more aggressive, especially if they continue to fantasize about aggressive-heroic themes (Josephson, 1995).

Just as television has a major impact on the lives of children, music does as well. Although there ware motivational, calm, and peaceful songs, it has been proven by record sales that violence is the number one seller. The biggest “black sheep” of the music industry has been rap artist Eminem. His songs Kim and Kill You graphically depict him murdering his wife and describe how he plans to murder and rape his mother (“Violence,” 2006). Despite this controversy, all of Eminem’s albums continue to top the charts of the music industry. Eminem is not alone in his success as he, Dr. Dre, Limp Bizkit have all bee criticized for violent lyrics; however, they still remain as the top-grossing artists in the business (“Violence,” 2006). Forty-one percent of students surveyed for this assignment reported that they only listened to a little volatile music as a child. Music, whatever the type, affects moods, attitudes, and emotions. There is noting that can affect a persons state of mind the way one song is able to; therefore, the less violent the song, the more positive effect it will have.

In a series of five experiments involving over 500 college students, researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services examined the effects of seven violent songs by seven artists an eight nonviolent songs by seven artists. The students listened to the songs and were given various tasks that measured aggressive thoughts and feelings. Results of the five experiments show that violent songs led to more aggressive interpretations or words. In a fill-in-the-blank experiment, the word “hit” was automatically created from h_t. The violent song increases in aggressive thoughts and feelings prove to have a relation to real world violence. “Aggressive thoughts can influence perceptions of ongoing social interactions, coloring them with an aggressive tint. Such aggression-biased interpretations can, in turn, instigate a more aggressive physical or verbal response than would not have happened had the violent music not been listened to” (“Violent,” 2003).

Because of the impact that violence has, movies are rated in various ways. A general audiences (G) rating is for people of all ages. A parental guidance (PG) rating means parental guidance is suggested because of minimal violence or crude language. A parental guidance 13 (PG-13) rating means the movie is advised for children who are thirteen and older. Children younger than thirteen should be accompanied by an adult. Lastly, a restricted (R) rating is meant for viewers seventeen and older. This rating system is supposed to preserve the more violent and sex filled movies for adults; however, not all movie theaters enforce these age restrictions. In order to increase ticket sales, movie producers are creating a “ratings creep” (Isaac, 2001). The movies that would have been rated R at one time, are now being rated PG-13 because PG-13 movies have proven to be more profitable than R-rated movies. Violence has always been a part of the movie making industry, but special effects have caused movies to become bloodier and louder with the use of slow motion and pyrotechnics (Smithouser & Waliszewski, 2001).

Not only do special effects affect the movie industry, it also has a stronghold on the video game world as well. In 1970, nobody could even imagine how the nature of video games would evolve. Pong was the first video game ever to appear. This was a virtual ping pong game where two rectangles were used as paddles and a small square was used as the ball (Kooijmans, 2004). There were no violent acts or situations. Next Super Mario Brothers was developed. Some people felt this game was too violent because the cartoon characters were breaking blocks and destroying enemies by jumping over their heads. Compared to the video games of today’s society, Super Mario Brothers is far from violent. The popular game Mortal Kombat has extremely realistic graphics and controls with extreme blood and gore. There are commands called fatalities that allow a player to kill an opponent in a very graphic fashion such as burning or chopping heads off (Kooijmans, 2004). The positive side to video games is that they help people develop visual skills, as well as improve a player’s manual dexterity and computer literacy (Shin, 2006). On the flip side, the negative effects of video games outweigh the positive ones. The effects of video games are even more powerful than those of the television (Isaac, 2001). In fact, a study in 2000 suggests that violent video game may be more harmful than violent television and movies because they are interactive, very engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor. Video game players are rewarded for their violent acts and a generation of aggressive thoughts by the players (“Research,” 2006).

Overall, television, music, movies and video games have similar effects on children. First of all, the brain is affected. Any child who is continually exposed to a great deal of violence has a major decrease in brain activity. This desensitizes the brain preventing the person from understanding the effects of real violence (Jordahl, 2002). Violent video games are used to desensitize soldiers to what they may experience during war (Phillips, 2005). A study done by Dr. Vincent Matthews from the University of Indiana conducted a study involving 38 children. They were divided into two groups of 19: one group has behavioral problems and the other group “normal”. They played a violent and non-violent video game while having their brain scanned by MRI. The results showed a decrease brain activity in both groups but it was easy to identify those who played violent video games on a regular basis compared to those who did not (Phau, 2002).

As far as behavior goes, there is a noticeable increase in the amount of aggression the children possess. These children and their effects are noticeable because they are prone to teacher confrontations and fights with their peers (“Understanding,” 2004). An overexposure to violence can cause children to have aggressive thoughts, become less helpful, and become less sociable.

According to Vernon Bass, violence in the medial has a major impact on the children for several reasons. Not only does the media display real life situations that children are able to relate and compare themselves to , but the people on television, in movies, on video games, and in the music industry do not get punished for violent acts. If children see others on television getting away with their violent activities, they feel that they will be able to do the same (Bass, V., personal communication). When conducting the survey for this paper 10% said that the media has a little effect on behavior, 8% said some effect, 50% said a majority of the time it has an effect, 25% said it has a lot of effect.

All-in-all, violence in the media is the leading cause of aggression in children of all ages. It is obvious that violence sells and violence brings in the most money; therefore, those involved in the media exploit this weakness: children. The real problem at his is the idea of “monkey see, monkey do.” The more children see something, the easier it is remembered and the more they will want to imitate these things. The violent acts demonstrated in the media do nothing more than blur the division line between fantasy and reality. Yes the media is at fault for being such a bad influence, but not all of the blame can rest o the media. Parents allow their children to be susceptible to the media without demonstrating to them what is real, what is fake, and the positive and negative consequences of violent actions. Parents should do what it takes to limit their child’s exposure to violence.

List of References

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Isaac, S. (2001, February 1). “Fun and Games?” Retrieved March 18, 2007 from http://troubledwith.com/stellant/groups/public/l@fortf_troubledwith/documents/articles/twi_013855.cfm?channel=Parenting%20Teens&topic=media%20Influence&sssct=background%20Info

Jordahl, S. (2002, February 6). “Study: Violent Media Affects the Brain.” Retrieved March 17, 2007, from http://troubledwith.com/stellant/groups/public/%50@fotf_troubledwith/documents/articles/twi_013924.cfm?channel=parenting%20Teens&topic=media%20Influence&sst=background20%Info

Josephson, W.L. (1995, February 29). “Television Violence: A Review of the Effects on Children of Different Ages.” Retrieved March 28, 2007, from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/resources/research_documents/reports/violence/tv_violence_child.cfm

Kooijmans, T. A. (2004, December 13). “Effects of Video Games on Aggressive Thoughts and Behaviors During Development. Retrieved March 15, 2007, from, http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/kooijmans.html.

Media Violence and Childhood Behavior. Personal Survey. 15, April 2007.

Phau, D. (2002, December 27). “Studies Show Violent Videos Damage Brain.” Retrieved April 10, 2007, from http://www.schillerinstitute.org/new_niol/videos_brain.html

Phillips, H. (2005, December 12). “Violent Videio Games Alter Brain’s Response To Violence.” Retrieved April 1, 2006 from http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8449

Media Awareness Network. (2006). “Research on the Effects of Media Violence.” Retrieved April 19, 2007 from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/violence/effects_media_violence.cfm

Shin, G. (2006, January 23). “Video Games: A Cause of Violence and Aggression.” Retrieved April 4, 2007, from http://www.serendip.brynamawr.edu/bb/neural/neuro03/web2/gshin.html

Smithouser, B. & Waliszewski, B. (2001, February 1). “The Power of the Media.” Retrieved April 1, 2007 from http://troubledwith.com/stellant/groups/public/%5c@fotf_troubledwith/documents/articles/twi_013924.cfm?channel=Parenting%20teens&topic=media%20Influence&sssct=Background%20Info

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American Psychology Association. (2004). “Violent Music Lyrics Increase Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings, According To New Study.” Retrieved April 1, 2007, from http://www.apa.org/releases/violentsongs.html