The effects of violence and the media for years now have been a controversial topic of debate. There have been debates on violence in the media where some argue that it has no consequences while others believe that it has long lasting negative effect on people especially children around the world. Many different sources of entertainment such as video games, movies, television shows and even in the news have been looked upon, and all these sources seem to have an effect on people generally and more effects to children. Violence is observed in television and movies and also in other forms such as music videos, video games, and cartoons. Violence is seemingly honored, glorified and celebrated in mass media and portrays to people that violence is normal, glamorous and widespread in the society (Signorielli 30). This paper is a discussion of whether media violence influences people's violent and aggressive behavior.
Most literature seems to avoid the issue of defining media violence. Arvidsorn describes media violence as Overt expression of physical force or the compelling of actions against one's will with the threat of force. The industry themselves represent media violence. According to the Media, Violence Labeling Act of 2000 all movies, film products and video games are required to have a uniform labeling system. All violent media products including advertisements are required to have warning labels. Witnessing violence in news reporting promotes derivative or imitator manners as studies have confirmed. There have been reports of people imitating illusory violence and regardless of the regularity of this alleged instance of a pollution of violence there has been little research on how stories of aggressive events affect behavior. Research of music videos and music lyrics have also shown concern because these videos sometimes replete with violence. Adolescents watch rebellious overtones and music videos with aggressive content.However, there has been an understanding that there is no link or causation between exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior (Arvidsorn 22).
Hinson one of the advocates of this emerging opinion, in his article In the Defense of Violence he claims that other than enjoyment and catharsis, he claims that movie violence cannot cause anything as long as the morality of the viewer is not corrupted. According to the article by Anderson The Influence of Media Violence on Youth and in Academic Achievement on the other hand, argue that entertainment violence leads to aggressive and violent behaviors, particularly in children. Hinson believes that violence in art is entirely different from violence in real life. Additionally, he supports his ideas from the Ancient Greeks who believed violence in real life is destructive and that violence in art provides an opportunity for catharsis (Hinson 28).
Researchers have observed that children are more aggressive after watching violent TV shows. It is because children are not able to distinguish between right and wrong because their minds are not yet fully developed. Most children tend to believe and imitate everything they see on TV and do violent acts of celebrities they idolize. In 1963, laboratory experiments were done by Professor S.A Ross, D. Ross and A. Badura consistently proved that exposure to violence caused increased respiration rate, blood pressure and increased heart beat which motivates children to act aggressively and violently. Desensitization is the direct attribution that produces aggressive behavior from media violence. Desensitization suggests that children exposed to a lot of violence are more willing to tolerate increasing levels of violence in the society since they are less sensitive to pain and suffering of others. A study carried out in1973 by Cline; Crofty and Courrier showed that children exposed to media violence tend to be less bothered when they witness violence in the real world and are less sympathetic to victims.
Media violence cause children to believe their community is unsafe, and over estimate their risk of being victimized by uncertainty and assumptions of increase in crime rate even when it is not. However, studies show that watching television does not result in fear to viewers. In fact, it causes them to be happier and more optimistic about life. It may be true to some but according to a report drafted by Anderson, showed that incidences of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and psychological trauma increase in proportion to the increased number of television watching hours each day. Coming upon some occurrence or stimulus can trigger concepts or ideas in a person's memory even without their ideas. Exposure to violent scenes may trigger a complex set of associations related to aggressive ideas, emotions or opinions. Moreover, empirically priming effects related to aggression have established indications associated with violence (Anderson 19).
Research conducted on media violence arrived at a conclusion that people's aggressive and violent behavior does not emerge due to exposure to media violence but rather this conduct is encoded in people since birth. Third variables such as exposure to domestic violence and personality are the determinants of people's aggression and violence and not media violence. Studies also suggest that individuals who intentionally seek media violence are more prone to aggressive and violent actions, therefore, increasing their exposure to media violence compared to people who are non-aggressive. Lastly, researchers argue that engaging in forms of media violence such as watching violent dramas, and playing violent video games help people relieve themselves of aggressive feeling and causes them to have emotionally stable states (Signorielli 16).
The rating systems of media violence are another issue which over the years is becoming less trustworthy. Through verifiable evidence, it has been proved that PG-13 movies make more money than R-rated films. Motion Picture Association of America coincidentally is rating shows PG-13 that would have one point been rated R to increase profits and rental sales. Hinson acknowledges that eighty-two percent of Americans thinks that the continuous success of R-rated movies contradicts this statistics. He argues that people like violence in art, although deplore violence in real life and it is the reason why violent movies make money. It has not been proved that media violence ultimately causes people to commit violent acts of their own, and hence, the subject of media violence has become a touch subject and highly controversial. Arvidson highlights that most people know instinctively that media violence is not what exactly causes people to become violent, and it is more complicated than that, and it is an issue of concern (Arvidsorn 25).
Figuring what causes violent tendencies in people is difficult and defining whether or not media violence precipitates more violence cannot be explained in black and white terms. Arvidson in her article demonstrates that there are more approaches and answers to the question of media violence linked to violent acts in children, all which contradicts one another and none of which is entirely accurate. Some of the medical experts believe they have a professional and moral obligation to point out if there is a relation between media violence and violence and explain that parents have to be extremely aware of this relationship. Some psychological experts oppose this and contend that the link between media violence and violent and aggressive acts by individuals is not clear at all and that these claims are unfounded (Arvidsorn 32).
In conclusion, although media violence may never be found to be explicitly connected to people violent acts in the society, it still plays some role. Violence in movies, newspapers, television, video games and other forms of media may affect violence in reality, and we should ensure that our society does not become frenzied and collapsed altogether. The way to do this is not to control the violence observed in the media since it can create more problems but rather let children explore, guide them and point out right from wrong. To conclude, violence is realism that should not be ignored and in the case of media violence, ignorance is no bliss. Information is vital and with this knowledge of media violence and its effects on real-life violence, we should be able to dispel violence from our society.
Anderson, D. R., Huston, A. C., Schmitt, K. L., Linebarger, D. L., & Wright, J. C. IV.
Academic Achievement. Monographs Of The Society For Research In Child Development, 2001.Print.
Arvidsorn, Cheryl. "Statement Linking Media Violence to Violence in Kids Draws----------- Criticism." The Well-Crafted Argument: A Guide and Reader. Eds. Fred D. ----------- White and Simone J. Billings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.Print.
Hinson, H.. In defense of violence: Why movie murder and mayhem may not be so bad. In P. Keough (Ed.), Flesh and Blood: The national society of film critics on sex, violence and censorship.2006.Print.
Signorielli, Nancy. Violence in the Media: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Print.
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