Media Violence Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1665 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Children

Media Violence



For more than thirty years, an intense debate has raged in American society regarding the negative effects of violence on children through such mediums as television, film, literature and other mass media sources. Many researchers, in fact a good percentage of them, state without hesitation that violence in the media negatively affects the development of young children, especially in the way that they interact with their peers and with society as a whole. Others continue to argue that violence in the media does not negatively affect young children, at least not to the point of creating and manifesting violence in their personal lives. Overall, research conducted within the last ten years has come to the conclusion that repeated exposure to high levels of media violence "induces children and adolescents to settle their interpersonal problems with violence" and while under the control of the power of the media, "children at younger and younger ages are using violence as a first, rather than a last, resort to solve conflicts in their lives" (Singer, 805).

Leonard D. Eron, one of the most prominent American authorities on the media and its effect on children, sums up the problem as such:

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There can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime and violence in society. Television violence, along with violent video games and films, affects youngsters of all ages and at all socio-economic levels. The effect is not limited to children who are already disposed to being aggressive and is not restricted to the United States" (Cline, Croft and Courrier, 362).

Term Paper on Media Violence Violence in the Media and Assignment

Despite Eron's research claims that media violence negatively affects young children and adolescents, other research conveys the exact opposite. According to Michael Males, the vast amount of complaints against media violence "are misdirected" and that research into the effects of media violence "is unreliable and proves only a minimal relationship between media violence and real-life aggression." Males supports his argument to a great extent by pointing out that youth violence has much more to do with the general violent tendencies of American society. According to the American Humane Association, "One million American children are violently injured, sexually abused or neglected every year by million children are raped every year..." facts which Males purports "have been roundly ignored by the same media outlets that never seem to be short of space to berate violent rap lyrics."

In addition, columnist Carl T. Rowe writes that he is "appalled that (politicians) are spreading the nonsensical notion that Americans will... stop beating, raping and injuring their children and others if we simply censor what is shown on television and other media," meaning that those who express concerns over media violence are using the media as a scapegoat for the overall problem of violence in America (Berkowitz, 101).

The amount of violent activity that a child watches on television or in a movie has certainly increased since the 1970's, due to the overwhelming number of programs that require the use of violence in order to relate a story, such as TV shows based on law enforcement and criminal activity. Thus, the amount of violent activity that a child watches and absorbs through television, movies, video games and magazines, leads to four measurable consequences. First, children who watch violence on television or movies on DVD for long periods of time (i.e. 4 or 5 hours a day), are more likely to use violence to solve their personal problems, due to believing that violence is an acceptable and reasonable method for conflict resolution. Second, when a child watches violent programming, he/she is desensitized towards violence, or in other words, the child does not react normally when confronted with violent actions, such as on the playground or in school. Third, watching excessive amounts of violence may result in a child thinking that the world about him is naturally inclined towards violence, meaning that certain programs might lead a child to believe that the violent he/she sees is normal activity on the part of those committing the violence. Fourth, watching too much violent programming has been shown to lead to violence in real life, especially if the child is under the age of ten and has experienced violence at home (Berkowitz and Rawlings, 350).

Of course, the frequency of violence in the mass media is closely related to how much or how often a child watches violent programming on television or on DVD's and video games. For example, on television, the frequency of violent programs is quite high, for between 8 PM and 11PM on weekdays, whether through standard network stations or cable stations, at least 50% of the programs available for viewing contain some form of violent activity. In addition, the severity of this violent programming as it relates to affecting a young child sitting for hours in front of the television is also quite high. As Judith Lightner relates, television and other mediums "have changed the very nature of childhood and have eradicated many of the traditional barriers that protected children from the harsh facts of adult life." Thus, the severity of the problem is closely linked to the fact that children in America, perhaps since the late 1950's, "have been exposed to a world of violence, sex, commercialism and betrayal far beyond their emotional capabilities" (256).

One very important area of this on-going debate over the effects of media violence on children centers on conflict resolution and the consequences of violent activity. Leonard Eron notes that studies from the past have determined that aggression "is a characteristic that develops early in life and is resistant to change," a fact supported by a study conducted in 1992 which found that "not only children who were aggressive to begin with, but all children were made more aggressive to exposure to television violence." Also, additional research studies have shown that "aggression as a way of handling conflict is a stable characteristic and once established in a child is very difficult to modify" (Cline, Croft and Courrier, 364). Thus, as a result of watching too much violence in the mass media, a good percentage of children solve their personal conflicts with friends and classmates through violence instead of finding a more peaceful way to end such conflicts.

The consequences of violence should be rather clear cut to most intelligent persons, but in the eyes of a child who watches hours upon hours of violent programming on television or in the movies, it may become evident that violence does not result in punishment for such crimes as murder, rape, theft and carjacking. The main problem here is that the stories which children watch on television that feature violent activities do not always end with the criminal receiving his/her appropriate punishment. Thus, the child may come away believing that violence can lead to good things. A prime example can be found in the Columbine High School incident in 1999 in which two teenage boys killed thirteen students with semi-automatic weapons. The perpetrators of this crime, at least according to some sources, "were addicted to violent television programs and movies and thus acted out their aggressions on innocent persons, thinking that violence was the way to solve their problems" (Lightner, 257).

The sources consulted for this paper range from highly-detailed studies which heavily support the suggestion that media violence negatively affects children to those that do not agree with the overall consensus that children are adversely affected by violence in the media. Leonard Berkowitz, writing in "Situational Influences of Reactions to Observed Violence," tends to support the view that media violence is only part of the overall problem in America; his colleague Edward Rawlings agrees, stating that "violence in the mass media… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Media Violence" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Media Violence.  (2007, February 10).  Retrieved January 16, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Media Violence."  10 February 2007.  Web.  16 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Media Violence."  February 10, 2007.  Accessed January 16, 2021.