Violence portrayed in the media has set certain expectations for audiences when they watch action films and believe conflict is necessary. But how much violence is too much violence, and can media violence be argued as good or bad for kids? Some people believe that media violence increases the possibility of actual violence in society while other people might say that media has little impact on our lives. According to Urban Dictionary, violence in media is described as “an extreme form of aggression that is produced due to constant exposure to aggressive and violent behavior in mass media, resulting in human suffering … atmosphere of anxiety, fear, and mistrust.” It is true that a person cannot be turned into a murderer just by playing video games; however, heavy exposure to violent media can be a risk factor for violent behavior. For example, children who are exposed to abuse, aggression and conflict are more likely to be influenced by violent media and behave aggressively.
To start with, media brings negative influences on youth to some extent. The way media presents violence has captured the interest of so many children because they think it is “fun” and “interesting” not realizing the psychological harm violence is doing to them. They take media violence as pleasure and end up mimicking the actions learned through media to the point they cannot separate reality versus fiction. In the article “When Life Imitates Video” the author argues “video kill games” can lead to violent behavior, he compares the influence of video games and other violent acts in to real life. He points out the impact of media violence in the real world when he compares the two boys and their knowledge of using a gun. This is evident when he says,”In the Colorado massacre, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris used pistol-grip shotguns, as in some video arcade games” (Leo 68). Through this, the author makes a key point about how hard it is to ignore the violence factor that goes on in society and the adverse effects of violent media exposure. In addition to that, Leo states, “the schoolboy shooter in Paducah, Ky, showed the effects of video game lessons in killing. Carneal coolly shot nine times hitting eight people, five of them in the head or neck” (Leo 69). Again with this evidence, Leo is making his audience be more aware and see the connections between these shootings and showing us how violence can have an impact on people’s lives. He uses these scenarios in order to express his point of view of the influences media has on aggressiveness and violent behavior. Furthermore, Leo introduces David Grossman a retired Army officer who makes a comparison between military strategies and video games. Grossman explains that “Shooting games in which the target is a man shaped outline, the Army found, made recruits more willing to ‘make a killing a reflex action'”(Leo 69). Grossman explains that violent media has a huge contribution to a child’s psychological development and overall upbringing to an extent because it shapes their ability to make decisions and how they choose to react in certain situations. In my opinion, Leo’s article shows us the impact of heavy exposure of violence in a child’s behavior and the negative effects associated with violent media. In addition, his way of presenting violent media tells us that violent video games and other media sources make children think it is okay to be violent and ruthless just like the way video games present a character.
Furthermore, violent media affects children’s ability to make good judgments and be able to critically think. Teenagers often have a rebellious mindset which makes it easier for them to connect with the violent media content and their lack of judgment leads to poor decision-making. The American Psychological Association urges that “viewing violence increases viewers’ tendencies for becoming involved with or exposing themselves to violence.” This statement helps readers understand that with children, especially those who are in their early development stages are more likely to be exposed to violent content through inappropriate music, movies, and television shows. This can affect their way of thinking and overall view of their surroundings. Also, The American Psychological Association states that “the conclusion drawn on the basis of over 30 years of research and a sizeable number of experimental and field investigations.. Is viewing mass media violence leads to increases in aggressive attitudes, values… and personality, including criminal behavior.” (The American Psychological Association 76) this statement clarifies that possessing violent media turns a person to be more aggressive and causes long lasting effects on a person’s behavior and personality. The American Psychological Association has given a few suggestion on how parents can help children to avoid the exposure of violence by stating this “request the television and film industry to reduce direct violence…”( The American Psychological Association 77). Today, Americans own at least one television in their household. This gives them unlimited access to violent media which could be a potential harm to many youngsters. With the youth being revealed to such things at this young age, they have already made up their minds that it is a common trend of society to praise violent media .
Additionally, Researchers have found that the more a person gets exposed to violent media the most likely that person will act aggressively. In the article “Screen Violence and Youth Behavior” the authors reviewed numerous meta-analyses and other experimental studies that emphasized on video games and its relation to increased aggressive behavior and thoughts. “Exposure to violence in media does not solely affect aggressive behavior. Although most research has focused on the effects of media violence on aggression, researchers have recently examined other outcomes of, for example, violent video game play. Violence in games is often heavily associated with other game mechanics and themes that can lead to harmful effects.” (Anderson et al.). This evidence helps readers understand that when people are faced with difficult circumstances, they are more than likely to use violence as a solution without even thinking of the potential harm it does to oneself and other.
However, not everyone sees violent media as a problem in the society. For example, Gerard Jones in his article about “Violent Media is Good for kids,” discusses positive aspects of media violence . He highlights the positive influence of exposure to violent media on children. The purpose of this article is to show the audience that violent media is not necessarily harmful, rather it helps children in various ways. Jones attempts to connect to his audience on a personal level by providing real-life stories on this subject and creating a connection between the author and the reader. His use of personal experience, idolizes violent media as a way of shaping children’s attitude and perception of life in a positive manner. Jones strategically uses the story of his son over his point of positive impact of violent media. He states, “I have watched my son living the same story – transforming himself…In the first grade, his friends started climbing tree at school. But he was afraid… I took my cue from his own fantasies and read him old Tarzan comics… For two weeks he lived in them. Then he put them aside. And he climbed the tree.”(Jones 65). By highlighting the power of comic books and storytelling and all of the positive impact, Jones is giving examples through his personal stories and getting the readers to be emotionally charged. Even though Jones uses several examples to show the positive side of violence in media, but because he realizes that it can also be harmful, he states “I’m not going to argue that violent entertainment is harmless.” (Jones 67). From this statement it is clear that Jones has doubts and in fact he also feels that in some way violent media can have a negative impact in people’s lives. He states his opinions without any actual facts and support which makes his arguments ineffective. Even though he expresses his point of view through personal connection and emotional aspect he fails to use logical reasoning. Without any experiments done and the lack of support to his argument makes a reader think ” is it okay to believe violent media is helping kids?”
In conclusion, Violence is a staple of American entertainment and disturbing social issue that Americans have struggled with, for many years with little success. As the American society is advancing, more technology is being introduced, and almost everyone has access to some sort of media which often contains violent content. As society moves forward, we can take suggestions from the American psychological Association to encourage parents to monitor and supervise their children and make them aware of how to deal with media violence. Also, parents should take responsible actions towards limiting heavy exposure of violence, especially for the younger kids by implementing restrictions to their exposure of media in general because the number one influence on kids’ media consumption comes from how their parents think and act regarding media.