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The debates about the violence in mass media are being held for few decades, but there is still no definite answer. The main question is the influence of violence on people through the mass media: television, cinema, video games and even literature is just full of violent elements. The problem of media violence is not going away, focusing on the “culture of violence”, whether this is a normal part of our life, or it’s what causes more aggression in our society.
During the day people spend a lot of time in the internet, near the TV screens, playing video games, so the result of this on people is evident – mass media really has a great influence on us. Every day on TV we see images of violence: death, injury, pain, sufferings, misery, wars and conflicts – it is just impossible to name everything. Daily news shows us wars and conflicts from all over the world. Films, both for adults and children, also are full of violence : fighting, murders, abuse and so on. Even books and magazines doesn’t stay apart, the same situation is with the internet.
That is why so many people, like scientists and just ordinary people who are not indifferent, raise the question: if media violence affect people behavior and can cause the increase of violence in real-life?
There are 2 points of view: some people blame media for too much violence and want to censor violent content to protect people, and especially children from its influence. Another people think that mass media just reflects the real life as it is, and that doesn’t cause violence in society.
Another important aspect of this problem is the influence of violence in media on children, as children are very sensitive and very susceptible to this violence. Now, when children have an unlimited access to various forms of media, there is a great concern for how they perceive and think about the violence they see, read or hear.
Some experts, like professor L. Rowell Huesmann from the University of Michigan, argue “that exposure to media violence causes children to behave more aggressively and affects them as adults years later.” Others, like Jonathan Freedman from the University of Toronto says that “the scientific evidence simply does not show that watching violence either produces violence in people, or desensitizes them to it.” (L. R. Huesmann, Laramie D Taylor)
During the last 50 years there were a lot of special researches concerning the influence of media on children. They show that American children between 6 and 18 years of age spend from 2 to 6 hours each day using different kinds of media: television, video, movies, video games, radio, music, computer and the Internet. (James Steyer)
This is more time than they spend on any other activity, so most of the information they perceive during the day is from mass media. A large proportion of this media acts of violence in different forms. It has been estimated that by age 18, the average young person will have viewed 200 000 acts of violence on television alone. (L. R. Huesmann, Laramie D Taylor)
Prolonged access to such media shows results in increased acceptance of violence as an appropriate means of solving problems and achieving one’s goals, and that television, movies, and music videos normalize using weapons and show them as a source of personal power. (J. L.Freedman).
Research has associated violence in media with a variety of physical and mental health problems with children and adults: aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances. More than 3500 research studies have examined the connection between media violence and violent behavior, and practically 80% of them showed a real connection. (L. R. Huesmann, Laramie D Taylor)
So should children be exposed to the media because of violence? And how can we protect children from violence showed in the media? Should the violence in media be censored or left free?
A lot of journalists speak about the protection of the right to free speech. Joanne Cantor argues: “Censorship is not the answer, but the right to free speech is aggressively used to protect commercial interests at the same time that the free speech rights of child advocates are stifled”. (Joanne Cantor, 2002)
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression lists a number of reasons to protect media violence as a form of “free expression”:
censorship isn’t likely to solve the problems of violence in society
decision about what is “acceptable” or not is always a subjective opinion
each person can choose what to see or to hear, can choose the appropriate for him variant of media information
a lot of books and films with elements of violence existed in the past and now are considered to be a good classics.
A lot of free expression defenders say that that mass media is only one of a number of variables that effect people behavior. Psychologist Melanie Moore says: “Fear, greed, power-hunger, rage: these are aspects that we try not to experience in our lives but often want, even need, to experience vicariously through stories of others. Children need violent entertainment in order to explore the inescapable feelings that they’ve been taught to deny, and to reintegrate those feelings into a more whole, more complex, more resilient selfhood.” (J. Steyer)
Another people say that violence in media is only a method of artistic expression and a mean of showing the life as it is.
Researchers R. Hodge and D. Tripp, for example, argue that: “Media violence is qualitatively different from real violence: it is a natural signifier of conflict and difference, and without representations of conflict, art of the past and present would be seriously impoverished.” (D. Grossman, G. Degaetano)
But still most people agree that today we have too much violence in the mass media. It can’t help influencing us anyway, because at list it makes us understand that the life is not so good as we want and that the world around us is just so cruel. Violence in media makes people feel disappointed and not optimistic.
Television, movies, and video games are full of acts of violence , deaths, crimes. When a child sees a violent act, he thinks it a game and may try to react it in real life. According to recent research at the University of Wake Forest, which results are presented at the conference Academy of Pediatrics, the frequency of viewing violence on television is directly related to the number of fights and other forms of destructive behavior. The results of this study are consistent with previous numerous studies of Dr. Durante, who found a significant correlation between the violence depicted and the real violence among children and adolescents.
Even if some people don’t believe in the results of research, in my opinion even the risk of that violence in media and real life aggression are connected is enough to convince public and government to take necessary actions, as this question is a public issue. And so the state and public organizations intervention is of great importance as concerns the censorship.
Anyway media constructs reality, and influences our views on race, gender, politics, and body image, in not good way of course.
In my view, today, it seems appropriate to conduct new studies that demonstrate the influence of violence on human psyche, especially on children and adolescents, taking into account the impacts of all the kinds of media. These findings should be communicated to the public in order to protect the younger generation of excessive and unjustified demonstrations of cruelty.
In this regard, so relevant is the question raised by Plato in the IV century BC: “How can we so easily assume that children are listened to and perceived the soul of what horrible myths invented by just anyone and for the most part contrary to the truths that are we believe should be with them when they grow up? “.
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