Media Violence And Its Impact On Children Psychology Essay
The depiction of violence by the media leads to the development of aggressive behavior and attitudes among children. Proponents of media argue that it is beneficial to children. Wilson (2008) asserts that media such as video games can help children and youths to improve their cognitive ability. Since most of the video games require a combination of high hand-eye coordination and quick responses, proponents argue that media increase the cognitive ability of children. However, this is not true of all media. The APA (2007) asserts that a large percentage of the violence depicted on television is in a way that augments its risk of damaging impact on children who view these programs. Consequently, children who view these television programs develop aggressive behavior and attitudes. Wilson (2008) asserts that the
violence depicted in the media such as television contributes to aggressive behavior and attitudes through imitation or social learning. Since children are able to learn at school or at home by imitating their teachers or parents, they are also able to learn aggressive behavior and attitude through the violence depicted in media. Children exposed to the violence exposed in media therefore tend to imitate the televised actions and words from a young age. However, proponents of media argue that the impact of media violence is negligible because children are aware that it is wrong to imitate things that are harmful. Nonetheless, at a young age, many children lack the cognitive ability to differentiate between what is real and what is unreal. If children watch violent television programs where violence is often repeated without being punished, they have a high chance of imitating what they watch in the programs. The APA (2007) asserts that several violent programs do not show any realistic harm being felt by actors. Since the violence in the media goes unpunished, children may think that it is normal for one to be violent. Even if some of the youths can differentiate between what is harmful and what is not, some still proceed to be violent. According to Savage (2008) , more than 98% of U.S. pediatricians believed that extreme violence in media negatively affected childhood aggression. In 2006, the observations of the pediatricians were proved right when Devin Moore, an 18 year old adolescent, shot two policemen after stealing a gun of one of them. The Moore killings were later blamed on the fact that he was an addict of “Grand Theft
Auto,” a kind of violent video game. Savage (2008) asserts that the relationship between the violent game and the real actions of Moore was logical—in the game, the players kill police officers after stealing cars. This is what happened in the case of Moore. Since Moore had no previous criminal record, one can conclude that his violent behavior towards the police was a result of playing the violent addictive game of “Grand Theft Auto.”
Similarly, watching violent programs on media teaches children that it is normal to solve problems through violent means. In several of the programs shown in media, violence is a common occurrence. Both sets of actors, the villains and the heroes, commit violent acts. However, media apologists would argue that since the villains are always defeated, children learn that violence does not pay. Advocates of media argue that children are more likely want to identify with the heroes and the heroines in the television programs. Consequently, advocates of media conclude that such children are unlikely to develop aggressive and violent behavior. However, this is not always the case. The violence shown in movies and media is portrayed as a means of resolving conflict. Apart from being inconsequential, the violence shown by the media is portrayed as being efficient (Strasburger, Wilson, & Jordan, 2009). Heroes in most of the violent television programs and films receive rewards for their violent behavior: defeating the villains. Since the heroes use violence as a way of defeating the “bad guys,” children may develop the thinking that aggression is the only sure way of solving the myriad problems in the society. Conversely, this is not always the case. There
are several non-violent means of solving problems, for example, negotiations. Since children believe that violence is the only way of solving problems or getting what they want, the non-violent means of solving problems or getting what one wants may be ignored. This may in turn lead to a rise in aggressive behavior in children. In a study, Daly and Perez (2009) established that the utilization of physical force was the prevalent type of aggression exhibited by children. The authors contend that if a child needed an object being used by a colleague, he or she would push the other child. Instead of borrowing or patiently waiting to use play items, Daly and Perez (2009) observed that children resorted to using physical force. The authors ascribe this violent behavior to watching violent television programs. By watching media that is filled with violence, children conclude that being aggressive can be rewarding to them. According to Savage (2008) , children who watch their favorite characters on media achieving what they want by using force are more likely to imitate this behavior in real life. This explains why some children in Daly’s and Perez’s 2009 study were willing to use force to get what their colleagues had. However, it is sad that media violence may affect children in the future.
Children exposed to violent media may mature into violent youths and adults. Bushman and Anderson (2008) assert that since children acquire attitudes regarding violence at an early age, it becomes difficult to modify these attitudes. The result is that media violence contributes to a society that is violent. However, media violence only contributes to a small percentage of the violence in the society. Strasburger, Wilson, and Jordan (2009) contend that 10% of violence in real life is caused by watching violent programs in the media. Although this is a small percentage, it is significant given the fact that it is something that can be controlled. Apart from contributing to violent attitudes and behavior in children, violent media leads to desensitization.
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