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Literature review on media violence and aggressive behavior

Recent research has shown that exposure to media violence causes both children and adults to behave in a much more aggressive manner, affecting them in years to come. Levels of violence are increased as children/young people grow up and become adults.

In the recent past, experiments carried out have revealed that exposure to media violence is attributed to major health problems among individuals including children for instance blood pressure and increased heartbeat (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). As a result, scientists have been making an effort to come up with ideas as to how exposure to media violence and aggression are interrelated outside the laboratories (Centerwall, 1992).

This study aims to investigate the impact of being exposed to media violence, which also leads to aggressive behavior in individual.


Literature Review

There have been a number of debates brought forth as to whether or not being exposed to media violence leads to increased levels of violent and aggressive behaviors amongst young people and some adults as well (Greenfield, 1984). Despite media violence being hard to define, some experts have perceived violence to be an act or a threat to injure or even kill someone regardless of whichever method might be used to accomplish the task (Barlow & Hill, 1995). Exposure to media violence has been most effective where the protagonists in the particular film or program carry out such acts.

In addition, there is a risk involved when people are not in a position to differentiate how and when being exposed to media violence leads to levels of aggressive behavior in individuals (Johnson, 2002). When children as well as young adults are exposed to media violence through computer screens, video games or televisions, their emotions, thoughts and behaviors are immediately affected and aroused. However, majority of experts agree that there exists a relationship between subsequent aggressive behavior and exposure to media violence (MTSB, 1998). In a few experiments carried out, it has been observed that approximately 5.7% of those who are exposed to television for less than an hour per day were involved in violent acts resulting in serious injuries (Jonathan, 2002). Also revealed was the fact that those children and young adults exposed to violent programs and/or video games exhibited some form of aggressive feelings, behaviors and thoughts in the course of time.

Despite numerous debates as concerns the connection between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior, there are those experts who have disagreed about how they are interrelated (Gunter, 1985). While one group argues that the resulting aggressive behavior is psychological caused by how individuals learn, others argue that the aggressive behavior is as a result of physiological effects (Strasburger, 1997). Moreover, there are those who still believe that once exposed to violence in the media, one is led to strike out as observed in media images where the villain and hero seek out revenge without there being consequences (Douglas, 2003).

Impact of Exposure to Media Violence

Exposure to media violence has had a major impact on children, young adults as well as a number of adults, contributing to the few cases associated with violent crime within the society (Strasburger, 1997). The proverbial saying that states that a person is what he/she watches has proven true in the recent past with majority of individuals being exposed to high levels of violence. It has been observed that even when other factors for instance academic skills are put into consideration and are associated with emotional problems or exposed to community violence, media violence usually results in predictions of violence and aggressive behaviors in future (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

According to recent research studies carried out, children learn through imitation, observation as well as making perceived behaviors their own, thus are greatly influenced by the media (Anderson & Dill, 2000). Exposure to violence in media has contributed to numerous mental health and physical problems for young people, children and a few adults within the community. These problems include depression, desensitization to violence, nightmares, aggressive behavior as well as being unable to sleep properly during the night (Bushman & Huesmann, 2000). The fear of falling victim to violent crimes has resulted in many young people and adults to carry weapons such as guns and knives with an aim of protecting themselves fro these vices. In the end, these individuals find themselves involved in violent crimes and end up being jailed or fined for their crimes (Gunter, 1985).

Video games and the internet also expose children and young adults to violent crimes and this has revealed the negative side of modern day technology within the community. Repetition of playing these games and the time spent playing them increases chances of violent aggressive behavior later on in the children’s lives (Barlow & Hill, 1995). Experimental studies carried out have shown that approximately 22% of adolescents who play violet video games engage in violent behavior in the course of their lives as compared to 14% who are exposed to other vices such as smoking tobacco (Douglas, 2003). Another impact of exposure to media violence has been interpersonal violence amongst urban youths. This has resulted in approximately 33% cases of injury with violence (Johnson, 2002).

Exposure to media violence is a major factor contributing to aggressive behavior as well as violence amongst children and young adults and this should pose a serious concern for the society. In this study, investigation as to the impact of being exposed to media violence leading to aggressive behavior was carried out.


The main objective of this research is to investigate the impact of media violence on aggression. This chapter will include methods of data collection, target population, data procedure and methods used to collect data as well as the research design.

Research Design

The research design used in this study was that of random sampling. The use of interviews and questionnaires was also implemented as these forms of data collection were perceived as most effective in acquiring the information needed for the research study.

Target Population, Sample size and Procedure

The research study was carried out in a high school setting where five respondents were picked randomly to carry out the investigation as concerns the impact of media violence on aggressive behavior. Included in this research were three high school students, a teacher, and a parent. The respondents would cover every area of observation as concerns impact of media violence on aggressive behavior.

The sample size chosen for this particular research study was that of five respondents randomly chosen by the researcher. They were interviewed and given questionnaires to fill in leading to the results of the research study. A letter was first written and given to the school principal informing him of the intention to carry out the study in his school. Another one was also written to the parent involved in the study.


In this chapter, the data collected was qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed and presented in the form of tables, percentages and charts. Results of the data collected indicating the impact of media violence on aggressive behavior is also presented.

Data Presentation

An experiment was carried out to investigate the impact of media violence on aggressive behavior among the respondents. They were exposed to a film containing a certain degree of violence and interviewed as to their responses towards the film. The results are as follows:

Table 1: Perception as concerns the degree of violence depicted in the film clip

Not at all






Figure A

Perception of degree of Violence

Not at all






From the table and figure above, it was observed that on being exposed to the film clip, majority of the respondents, approximately 60% perceived the clip to be of a violent nature. Upon being interviewed, they suggested that such exposures over a long period could possibly result in aggressive behavior among children as well as young adults in future (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

Another experiment was conducted to investigate whether or not the respondents committed to memory the violent scenes they observed from the film clip. This was also to investigate whether or not exposure to media violence is imbedded psychologically, driving an individual to desire to engage in violent behavior after a period of time. The results were as follows.

Table 2: Commitment of media violence to memory

Respondents’ Aggression Scores

Commitment to Memory






Before exposure






After exposure






Figure B

From the table and figure above, the results observed indicated that majority of the respondents developed a certain degree of aggressive behavior after being exposed to the violent film clip as compared to their state before the exposure. Approximately 33% was recorded as being the highest aggression score among the respondents (Jonathan, 2002). This shows that exposure to media violence is attributed to aggressive behavior in individuals.


A research was carried out to investigate the impact of media violence on aggressive behavior and results obtained in the end. According to these results, it was concluded that long-term exposure to media violence creates the desire to act out or engage in violent/aggressive behaviors amongst children and young adults.

However, there are a number of recommendations that can be put into consideration in order to try n curb the rising menace of violence in the society. For instance, schools, parents and the community as a whole should be encouraged to educate children on media literacy in order to be able to protect them against health effects associated with exposure to media violence (Douglas, 2003). Clinicians and pediatricians should be more aware of the high level of influence the ever-expanding choice of entertainment media is having on the mental and physical health of children and young adults. In addition, playing video games or watching programs related to violence should be regulated and restricted to age limited areas or appropriate age groups (MTSB, 1998).

In this way, exposure to media violence will be controlled and will not have such a great impact on aggressive behavior of children and individuals as compared to its current impact.

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