Media Violence Teenage

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1st Jan 1970 Media Reference this

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Media Violence Alone Does Not Induce Teenage Violence

For years current media has been blamed for the criminal and antisocial actions of teenagers. As Oliver stone said “society makes the media a scapegoat for the reason violence is such a big part of today”. Many anti-media parties have tried to make barriers in art and censor the creativity of movie makers, artists, and etcetera in the quest to reduce violence in our society. What they have no remorse towards is depriving society of freedom of expression. Even if they managed to exclude violence from the media human nature will always cause some of us to be violent, and our crimes will be presented on the news. There is no way that can be censored or prevented. “Artists do not invent human nature but merely hold it up to a mirror” (Shakespeare). Media violence on its own has no effect on teenagers’ violent behavior. Many other factors can contribute to a teenager being violent or anti-social.

“…boys watch and play more football than girls do, and it’s not because the media influences them to, it is because of personality characteristics” (Jonathan Freedman professor of psychology at the University of Toronto). Personal inclination is a big factor in the behavior of teenagers. Just as some adults enjoy the opera and others enjoy rock concerts, some teenagers enjoy in indulging in violent entertainment while others enjoy educational and/or non-violent entertainment. This is something we have no control over. “Yet as with human infants, we can never know the outcome of the nascent, and so both must be protected and nurtured, precisely for society’s sake.” (Oliver Stone). Correlation studies state that adolescents who indulge in violent TV programs tend to be more violent, and ones who don’t tend to be calmer…“it could just as reasonably be argued that viewing violent television programs is caused by the child’s preexisting tendency to be aggressive” (Scott Barbour). The type of entertainment an adolescent enjoys is not something that can be controlled. Teenagers are also human and just like other humans have different personalities, and enjoy indulging in things that others might find repulsive.

“Blaming media violence as the cause of real-world violence among teenagers is irresponsible” (Scott Barbour). What the government and anti-media campaigns should be concerned and focused on are the real factors that contribute to this issue. Another one of the factors that are responsible for teenage violence is parental guiding. It affects the way children social skills develop and they way they will act once they’re old enough to be responsible for their own actions. Once a teenager, a person’s personality has developed and has a set of morals and values. A TV show or movie will not affect the way a teenager acts or thinks if they have had the adequate parental guiding, and have been raised in a loving, caring, responsible, non-violent environment. As stated in BRAIN DEFECTS SEEN IN THOSE WHO REPEAT VIOLENT ACTS by: Harold M. Schmeck Jr. Dr. Wolfgang of the University of Pennsylvania, a sociologist and criminologist, said the clearest single predictor of chronic criminality among the youths whose records he studied was that the individual had himself been the victim of violence…and an unstable home life. An example of this is the case of the couple Ben Darras’ (18) and Sarah Edmonson’s (19) 1995 crime spree. This was purportedly induced by Oliver stone’s 1994 film Natural Born Killers. The public made this inconclusive accusation despite the troubled past of both of the offenders. “Ben and Sarah are deeply disturbed youths with histories of drug and/or alcohol abuse and psychiatric treatment. Ben’s alcoholic father divorced his mother twice, then committed suicide…Sarah carried a gun because she feared that Ben would attack her” (Oliver Stone). Obviously, there were many factors inducing their criminal behavior further more complicated than just watching a movie and doing what you have just seen. Many cases like this one have been pointing fingers at movies for the actions of disturbed youths, doing so is a ridiculous attempt to find a quick answer to an excessively complicated matter.

Media violence can result in the release of tension for some adolescents. Just as yoga and fantasies such as dreams can serve as a release of built up tension and stress, violent “television fantasies” can also do the same for boys from low socioeconomic backgrounds. According to Seymour Feshbach a highly respected psychologist, these fantasies “supplement a person’s own imagination, and help him discharge pent-up aggression in the same way that dreams and other products of the imagination can do”. As noted in Media Violence Does Not Cause Youth Violence by Richard Rhodes. Seymour Feshbach ran a test on the homes of four boys, and 400 boys in three private boarding schools for six weeks. Half of the boys only viewed programs with excessively violent content and the other half viewed only non-aggressive programs. The aggression level of the boys was judged before and after the controlled viewing period. “No behavioral differences were reported for the adolescents in the private schools. Among the poorer, semi delinquent youths, those who had been watching the more violent shows were calmer than their peers on the blander viewing diet.” (Fowles summarizes Feshbach’s findings). This clearly shows that in some cases a productive method of releasing tension and anger is through indulging in violent television. This is obviously a better method than committing acts of violence which are thought to be induced by television itself.

Laboratory testing is done to prove that media violence is the cause of teenage aggression but, there is no doubt that the results of the testing are questionable. “The most recent and comprehensive meta-analysis of media violence was conducted by Paik and Comstock (1994), who examined effect sizes from 217 empirical studies on media violence and aggressive and violent behavior published between 1957 and 1990. The analysis indicates clearly that brief exposure to violent dramatic presentations on television or in films causes short-term increases in the aggressive behavior of youths, including physically aggressive behavior.” This type of testing is unconvincing. Two adults testing two teenagers in a laboratory setting cannot be compared to the actions a teenager will take in the real world after watching a violent film or TV show. Their actions in the testing setting may be influenced by the adult researchers. “Even quite young children are good at working out what adults want them to do, or will let them get away with.” (Kevin Durkin associate of psychology). Furthermore, “an important general finding from these experimental studies is that not all youths seem to be affected equally by media violence. Effects seem to be strongest on youths who are predisposed to be aggressive for some reason or who have been aroused or provoked” (Berkowitz, 1993; Bushman, 1995; Geen & O’Neal, 1969). Just as a teenager will lie about doing their homework to please their parent, they can just as well act in the manner they are expected to act in order to please the researchers. “In addition, participants may react differently in the laboratory when they realize that their expressions of aggression will not be punished” (Gunter, 1983)

The theory of media violence alone being responsible for teenage violence is not credible nor is it convincing. Next time you blame a movie or TV show for the actions of a teenager solely on its content ask yourself, after watching that did I want to go out and commit a violent and vicious crime? The answer for most of us would be no, so what makes you think that a teenager will react differently?

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