The Violent Connection Between Reality and Media
Many years ago, I posed the question, does reality affect media or does the media affect reality? After a short discussion with my social science instructor, I came to the conclusion that the answer is indisputably both. The problem was, I didn't know how the two interacted with each other and to what extent is their influence had the world. I did some looking digging for a solution, and it seems that science doesn’t have an exact conclusion. That is to say, there are many answers that are all pieces of the puzzle and there are still pieces missing. For simplicity's sake,I have chosento study the relationship betweenexposure to violence in any type of media and delinquency in American youth. For the my own sake I will focus on four key points; defining violent media; desensitization; violent crimes committed by youth; and exposure time & media regulations.
The most important part of my researchis defining what violent media is and what forms it comes in. However, I have found no complete classification as the term is believed to be self-explanatory. Still to explain violent media, people should understand what a media means. Media is the plural of medium and is any means of communication to the general public with text, graphics, sound, or other means, though the social use and can alsobe defined as “the means of communication that reach large numbers of people, such as television, newspapers, and radio” (William Collins Sons & Co.). By this perceptive, everything from books with aggressive arguments and cartoons fighting, to video games in which the characters commit genocide, to even news reports over violent crimes are all considered violent media. Although theses may seem to have different amounts of relevance it is my understanding that there is a progression for the audience from less graphic to more graphic forms of violent media. To guide and protect and inform the audience, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rate the content in video games and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rate the content of television and movies. These organizations, and more, work classify and choose age suitability for most of violent media. Still, they fail to prevent the desensitization of violent media.
Desensitization is a process to which a person becomes less reactive to a trigger or stimulus in their environment. Behavioral psychology, aka Behaviorism, practices exposure therapy is used to desensitize an overactive stimulus in order to create an appropriate response but not all desensitization is good. Violent Children, a non-fiction book about youthdelinquency stated“Media violence has also been shown to desensitize humans to violence.”(43). However the passage does not say how people are desensitized. But there is a case study that had an audience viewed “slasher” films then asked to comment on a video recording of a rape trial (Violent Children 44). Unsurprisingly the audience showed “less sympathy” to the rape “victims” and had decreased anxiety over the rape trial to that of the controlgroup. I can translate this in two ways, either they were not having sympathy guilt, assuming guilt because of sympatric feeling, or they believed that the defendant was innocent to the court and that the “victim” was lying, neither of which I find harmful to the justice system. Getting back to the point, the majority of desensitized youth is caused by media and has a positive correlation with the amount of expositor to said media but the effect on society is still not fully known. The feared effect is an increase in violent crimes committed by youth.
Today adolescent/youth violent crimes are a major concern for most of the western world. “Homicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 . . .” (Violent Children 11) but at the same time overall violent crimes committed by adolescence is “. . .far less dramatic . . . than the news clips on evening television . . .” (Violent Children 21) and is decreasing. It is also true that “. . . violence on television and in video games increases the risk of violent behavior on the viewer . . .” (Media Violence 24) but that does not always lead to violent crimes, just behavior or activites. The actual amount of violent crimes by adolescence is less than 1% of all crimes committed and the most common crimes committed by youth is stealing and shoplifting, or non-violent crimes. Violent media may increase the risk of violent crimes, but it is unknown if the future criminals exposed themselves to violent media because they are naturally violent or became violent because of an expose of violent media. The end result is that youth who are exposed to violent media are at risk to be violent themselves but how they are violent is varied from throwing a fit to committing a mass killing. Protective measures and bureaucracies to prevent violent crimes by youth are available to the public by the federal government.
The ESRB and MPAA set easy to follow guild lines for parents and guardians to follow to protect their children and teenagers from the harmful effects of media violence. A rating system based on age is used for movies, television, and video games by saidorganizations. The ESRB and MPAA know that exposure to violent media has a powerful influence on the behavior of youth and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggests that a maximum of two hours a day should be set for both television and video games but are only set as guidelines for parents and guardians. This is widely known in North America but is rarely followed. 86% of American households subscribe to a cable or satellite television (Media Violence 105), and most people don't pay for anything that they rarely use and that means that people are getting more exposure than necessary.Short term studies show that overexposure to violent media makes people more likely to get into a physical confrontation. Long term studies show a rapid increase in delinquency of children exposed to violent media. To put it nicely, violent media affect you whether you want to admit it or not.
In conclusion, the effects on society are still being discovered. Part of the reason is that violence as always been a part of human storytelling and culture. Humans are violent creatures and thus we do violent things. Violent media is nothing new to us but is still gaining popularity. If we can limit violent media it may or may not help stable society. That is to say we should be concerned about violent media, but the greater concern is violence itself. Trying to stop a possible cause of a violence is all well and good but why not use media to make counter violent media and educate the audience on how violence is harmful and has lasting effects. Violent media is very entertaining and it's audience does not want it to go away, however we should be aware that it will always have an impacted on our lives so they we can control that impacted more.
American Academy of Family Physicians.Violent Childeren. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detoit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Text.
Taylor, L. Rowell Huesmann and Laramie D. Kowalki, Kathiann M.Media Violence. Detorit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Text.
William Collins Sons & Co.Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009.
Hopf, W. H., Huber, G. L., & Weiß, R. H. (2008). Media violence and youth violence: A 2-year longitudinal study. Journal Of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, And Applications, 20(3), 79-96.
Rahé, B., Möller, I., Huesmann, L., Kirwil, L., Felber, J., & Berger, A. (2011). Desensitization to media violence: Links with habitual media violence exposure, aggressive cognitions, and aggressive behavior. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 100(4), 630-646.
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