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Is Violence in the Media Controversial? Essay

Do you have a particular song or movie that you just really love. If you do, have you ever considered the kind of music you listen to or the movies you watch influence the decisions you make about almost everything. This may be really obvious, but a lot of people underestimate it: It’s the power of the media. Media is very powerful and extremely influential. And as teenagers, our minds are a lot more absorbent to the things we see and hear around us. That’s why I think media should be censored. Probably the most common example of the influence of media on teenagers is the Columbine shooting. Public controversy about violent content in the media has a long history that extends as far back as the first decade of the twentieth century in the United States.

The earliest controversies revolved around depictions of criminality in the movies, and the very first case of movie censorship occurred in 1908, when the police in Chicago refused to provide a permit for the public display of the movie The James Boys in Missouri. Authorities objected to the content of the film because it focused on violent law-breaking (Hoberman, 1998). The scientific study of the effects of media violence may not extend as far back as 1908, but it was only a few years later that media violence became a focus of the first major investigation of the content and effects of movies. Violence in the media has become a contradictory topic. While some individuals believe that media violence places society in danger of chaos, others find that violence in the movies and on television has no negative effect on societal communities. Research has shown that there are pros and cons to having violence displayed in the Violence in the Media 3

media. The study of media sources (particularly violence in video games, television, and movies) with real-world aggression and violence over time. There doesn’t seem to be many positive aspects to violent television shows or movies, but there’s at least one advantage to watching violence, such as catharsis. There will always be the debate over why some people react with violence after watching violent media and some do not, but the fact remains that there are few good reasons to see so much violence in such explicit detail. Many social scientists support the correlation however; some scholars argue that media research has methodological problems and that findings are exaggerated (Ferguson & Kilburn, 2009; Freedman, 2002; Pinker 2002; Savage, 2004).

Measuring aggression and its causes has always been an important focus for social psychologists, partly because excessive aggression isn’t tolerated in our society, and overly aggressive individuals often find themselves in jail because of their behavior. The first experiments on the impact of media violence on human behavior were conducted by psychologists and sociologists who applied theories of social learning and modelling behavior i.e. they thought that people saw violent behavior on TV and copied it. The more violent behavior they saw, especially violence that went unpunished, the more likely they were to behave in a violent manner themselves. Since the 1960s and Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiments, there have been many studies by social psychologists attempting to establish a causal relationship between media violence and aggressive behavior.

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Complaints about the possible harmful effects of mass media appear throughout history; even Plato was concerned about the effects of plays on youth. Various media/genres, including dime novels, comic books,jazz,rock and roll, role playing/computer games,television,movies,internet (by computer or cell phone) and many others have attracted speculation that consumers of such media may become more aggressive, rebellious or immoral. This has led some scholars to conclude statements made by some researchers merely fit into a cycle of media-based moral panics.

Several scholars (e.g. Freedman, 2002; Olson, 2004; Savage, 2004) have pointed out that as media content has increased in violence in the past few decades, violent crimes among youth have declined rapidly. Although most scholars caution that this decline cannot be attributed to a causal effect, they conclude that this observation argues against causal harmful effects for media violence. A recent long-term outcome study of youth found no long-term relationship between playing violent video games or watching violent television and youth violence or bullying.

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Pro: Catharsis Theory
The catharsis theory implies that daily interactions cause individuals to accumulate frustrations. These frustrations could lead to the individual committing violent acts if not released by other means. According to this theory, watching others engage in violent acts on television or in the movies relieves the individual of daily frustrations, and creates a society filled with less violence. In essence, the catharsis theory deems media violence as a positive attribute because an individual can release tension without physically harming another individual.

Con: Violent Thoughts
Researchers have undertaken studies that support the idea of media violence initiating violent thoughts in children and adults. According to the theory of observational learning, children learn through example. As such, kids who unable to decipher the difference between reality and fantasy will imitate behavior viewed on television. If not corrected, these children have the potential to exhibit violent as children and throughout their adult lives. From the perspective, violence in the media initiates violent thoughts that individuals eventually carry out.

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Pro: Reinforcement Theory
The reinforcement theory holds that media violence reinforces prior beliefs about violence in society. When speaking of media portrayals, the reinforcement theory indicates that violent acts seen in the media occur in society when aggressive behavior already surrounds the viewer. Individuals who learned that violence is wrong will not be influenced by the media to commit such acts. In fact, people whose believe violence to be bad will use such behavior in the media to strengthen their opposition.

Con: Justifiable Violence
Regardless of an individual’s beliefs about violence, The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) holds that aggressive behavior in the media presents the idea of violence being a justifiable solution to societal problems. According to CMPA, many television shows with a protagonist through violent acts. While good ruling over evil is a positive concept, some television shows and cinemas do not demonstrate the human consequences of violent acts. Failure to exhibit such consequences informs the viewing audience that violence is the only justifiable means of solving a problem and aggressive behavior has no consequences associated with it—a concept that is certainly untrue in society. On top of all that, seeing these themes at such a young age helps desensitize him to it when it occurs in reality.

In an ideal world, all there would be more child appropriate television, and parents may do more to shield their kids from the guns and explosions that is today’s media. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, so I think the media should set their violent content to “low”, not “overkill”. Also, not only is their proof that the lack of non-violent television is getting to our kids, but the media has, (whether intentionally or not), shown in a sense, what the violence on television has done to children. The Effect of Violence in the Media on Children Television, movies, and video games are a big part of children’s lives in today’s technologically advanced society. However, there is a big controversy questioning the effects of these media outlets on children. Much of society claims to have proof for the belief that media violence affects children negatively.

However, I am skeptical of the evidence that is stated to prove that claim. I feel that society has placed the blame on these mediums for the violent acts, however serious or trivial, that children commit way too easily, before they even begin to examine the parenting of today’s society. National Association for the Education of Young Children supports the reinstitution of FCC standards establishing limits on violent depictions during hours children are likely to watch television. Standards would also control the degree to which violence is depicted so as to be perceived by children as a normal and acceptable response to problems, as equated with power, as leading to reward or glorification of the perpetrator. An additional strategy would be to develop a parental guidance rating system for network.

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There are many issues surrounding this age-old debate and the perceived effects of violence in the media. Over the past fifty years various studies have both proved and disproved the links between violence in the media and aggression in real life. But somehow the same questions keep coming up: Who is responsible for the violent content in the media? The arguments on each side of the debate are very powerful, and draw on years of discussion, and anxiety about the effects media violence might be having on our society as a whole. Parents need to be aware that much of what children watch on television is not specifically intended for children.

It has been estimated that only 10% of children’s viewing time is spent watching children’s television; the other 90% is spent watching programs designed for adults. Parents can assist children in finding alternatives to viewing adult television. You need to sift through the research material and have a look at the different views of parents, psychologists, academics, audiences and media producers. Check who has authored any given report, and how that might affect their conclusions e.g. are they affiliated to a religious group, or an industry association? The irony at the heart of the Violence in The Media debate is that a lot of the media coverage of this topic which condemns violence, actually incorporates violence and is designed to stimulate violent reactions.

1. Savage, J., & Yancey, C. (2008). The Effects of Media Violence on Criminal Aggression; A Meta-Analysis,” Criminal Justice and Behavior. : Sage. 2. Berkowitz, L. (1965). “Some Aspects of Observed Aggression”. Journal of
personality and social psychology 12 (3): 359–369 3. Bender, H.E., and Kambam P., Pozios V. (2013). Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing. 4. Brown, Governor of California Supreme Court of the United States (personal communication, June 27, 2011) Entertainment Merchants Association. 5. Freedman, Jonathan L. (2002). Media violence and its effect on aggression: Assessing the scientific evidence. Toronto 6. Ferguson, C. J.; Kilburn, J. (2009). “The Public Health Risks of Media Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review”. The Journal of Pediatrics 154 (5): 759–763 7. Singer, D., & Singer, J. (1984). TV violence: What’s all the fuss about? Television & Children, 7(2), 30-41.

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