Violence in the Media
The role of the media in passing information to the public cannot be overemphasized. As a source of entertainment, the media is playing a key role in reshaping the values, beliefs and behaviors of members of different societies. One of the attributes of the media is its wide scope, ranging from TV shows, sports, computer games, comedies, movies and interactive platforms through the social media. A big concern about the media is the violent content it carries, which in the end influences the behavior of mostly children and youths in the society. According to a survey carried in Common Sense Media, 90 per cent of movies, 68 percent of computer games and 60% of TV programs had violent messages (Huesmann & Taylor, 2006). Social scientists view media violence as a social ethical dilemma since heavy exposure to such content adversely affects the behavior of consumers (Scheier & Carver, 1996). This raises the need for authorities to regulate the amount of media violence people feed on daily.
Past media violence events
TV programs bare a great blame of perpetuating media violence among teenagers (Kirsh, 2006). In most violent movies, vicious characters always succeed forcing viewers to identify with such personalities and emulating their means to success. For example, Seung-Hui Cho shot Emily Hilscher and Ryan Clark, students at Virginia Tech campus students in Blacksburg in 2007. Chuo later committed subsequent crimes in what was described as achieving a target similar to video games missions. The shooting took place in hostels, with police investigations establishing no rivalry link between Chuo and his targets. However, final reports revealed that Chuo was an addict of violent video games and had enrolled for Tae Kwon Do.
In another case, carried by the Prime-Time Society Devin Moore, aged eighteen landed in jail after shooting three police officers and escaping with their car. Final investigations showed Moore had spent hours playing grand theft auto video games. Thus, the exposure to virtual violence motivated the boy to commit the crime. In essence, media violence corrupts the minds of young people, as they are unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality and adopt immoral behaviors (Huesmann & Taylor, 2006).
Effects of media violence
Heavy consumption of violent media content has short and long-term effects to victims. Huesmann (2009) notes that short-term effects include mimicry, priming and arousal processes. Priming activates the brain, linking it to a previously observed action. For example, children admire owning a riffle upon watching movies with heavy gunfire despite the consequences of owning it. Priming leads to arousal, which makes the brain take part in a negative action, recorded from a different platform Huesmann & Taylor, 2006). At arousal stage, one is exited and gets emotional response, resulting into short-term effects. The final stage is mimicry, where a child imitates whatever behavior they may have watched in the media. They may portray this through rude language and unnecessary absenteeism from classes. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, America has witnessed an upsurge in criminal trends since 1960 with the advancement in technology. With these tech-developments, virtual crime is made to appear real in movies to woo audience and affect them negatively (Kirsh, 2006).
Psychological concepts associated with media violence
Social psychology is an important branch of science when understanding human behavior. For example, it emphasizes on observation or social learning, which behavior that one acquires by imitating others (Scheier & Carver, 1996). In most movies, crime and aggressiveness is a major tool of resolving conflicts and achieving success. Youths and children draw motivation from these media stars and tend to solve real life problems using movie scenarios (Gentile, 2003). Psychologists affirm that observation and imitation largely influence the behavior of human beings.
The second concept is social cognition is the ability to act depending on the situations you confront in life (Scheier & Carver, 1996). People therefore classify themselves in specific social groups where they are psychologically comfortable. For instance, as a Chinese, Chuo believed in aggressive ways of solving problems in the society, including shooting of three students as a way of revenge. The last concept that drives human behavior is self-esteem. When one is confident, they have higher degree of passion to complete a task than demoralized individuals do. While the result could be either way, it is worth noting that the initiation was because of self-esteem. Self-esteem dominates when a person imitates another one they admire.
Huesmann (2009) holds that media violence creates uninhabitable learning environment for learners, who get overwhelmed by the urge to behave like certain media personalities, thus leading to poor concentration in school. Huesmann further opines that excess exposure to violent media content makes people less sensitive to human emotions and sufferings (2009). In his 2009 survey, Huesmann observes that violent media content results into immediate effects. This opinion however carries limitations since human behavior develops after a period. Moreover, not everyone who consumes violent media content develops aggressive behavior. This is to say that the media only activates to commit a premeditated act.
Firstly, there is need for public awareness on the negative effects of media violence. This will ensure that every parent bares the responsibility of protecting his or her children against media violence at all times. Of great concern has been the more time children are spending watching violent media content as compared to school time. Secondly, the government should actively play its role of regulating violent media content. This should include a ban on misleading ads and inclusion of age restrictions in programs that carry aggressive content. Thirdly, movie and filmmakers should consider other ways of resolving conflicts in their productions apart from violence. They should consider portraying violence as unacceptable immoral behavior, which should be shunned away to minimize mimicry among kids (Gentile, 2003). Lastly, schools and colleges should tailor their curriculum to teach learners on the negative effects of media violence. This would enhance public awareness and sensitization against heavy consumption of aggressive media content.
In general, media violence has enormous impact on the society especially the young population. Therefore, there is urgent need to limit and regulate the access and exposure to such content. Psychological perceptions further affect the behavior of people as most youths who commit felonies have a history of addiction to aggressive media programs. Research has proved that mimicry, priming and arousal are the main short-term effects of this exposure. Most children engage in criminal activities because of media personalities equally employ crime to solve problems (Kirsh, 2006). Children identify with stars that succeed in movies regardless of the means they employ to hit their targets in life. In dealing with media violence, public awareness cannot be overemphasized. This education is necessary because some children have become victims out of ignorance or lack of accurate information about media violence (Gentile, 2003). Above all, there should be regulation of violent media content to viewers at all times.
Gentile, D. A. (2003). Media violence and children: A complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Huesmann, R. (2009). The impact of electronic media violence: scientific theory and research. Journal of adolescent health. 41 (1): 6-13
Kirsh, S. J. (2006). Children, adolescents, and media violence: A critical look at the research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Huesmann, R., & Taylor, L. D. (2006). THE ROLE OF MEDIA VIOLENCE IN VIOLENT BEHAVIOR. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 393-415. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/235236455?accountid=1611
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1996). Psycological resources matter, no matter how you say it or frame it. Counseling Psychologist, 24(4), 736. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/203270107?accountid=1611