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Does Violence in the Media Create Violent Hostile Children?

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Autor:   •  February 2, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,694 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,096 Views

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It was only eight years ago when the unthinkable became reality. Two teenagers, by the name of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The two murdered thirteen and wounded twenty-three others before they turned the guns on themselves (Shin, 2006). "How is it that these boys were able to do what they assume it was the influence of the video game Doom. The two boys spend most or their time playing it and were even able to create their own versions of it. They even created a website where others could play their new game. Was this the source of the Columbine massacre? In order to answer this question, one must take a look at today's society. As technology continues to improve, people are becoming more and more dependent on the media as the main source of knowledge. Although everyone is affected by the media, it has been proven that children are targeted the most. According to the parents in the Media in the Home 2000 study, children spend 6 and one-half hours with media each and every day (Children," 2002). Everything from television, to video games, to movies, and to music impacts the children's lives everyday. The violent media, with its negative images and lyrics, appears in our everyday lives delivering wrongful messages to our youth; therefore, it influences them to act out what they see on television and hear on the radio.

Over the years, entertainment has truly evolved. Yes, violence has always played a role in entertainment, but in recent years, it is noticeable that media violence has not changed. In other words, the entertainment industry sees more violence as a means of making more money. Not only has violence increased in quantity, but in quality as well. It has become more graphic, more sexual, and more sadistic ("Violence," 2006). Television shows, movies, and video games have become know for emphasizing slow-motion bullets towards people's chests and dead bodies surrounded by pools of blood. Then, song lyrics constantly advertise shootouts by opposing gangs. "The media offers entertainment, culture, news, sports, and education. It is an important part of our lives and has much to teach; however, some of what is teaches may not be what our children need to learn" (Understanding," 2004). Violent crimes have increased by more than 560% since 1960. This increase can be accredited to the increase of violence in the media and entertainment (Smithouser & Waliszewski, 2001).

Of all the sources of media, television is the number one source that impacts children's lives. By the time a child turns 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed, on average, 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders, o the television ("Children," 2002). I found from a survey of twelve that 91% of children watched some sort of violence as a child. Of that 91%, 25% reported that they watched a lot of violence as a child. In a recent interview, police offer Vernon Bass says that of the number of troublemakers that he sees on a regular basis, they spend at least 90-95% of their time watching television. It is nearly impossible for teenagers to bypass violence because 61% of television programs contain some form of violence. Then, of that 61%, 41% of those violent scenes contain humor. So, not only is a violent message being sent, but it also makes violence seem humorous, as if it is a joke ("Children," 2002). Violent television shows are aimed at teenagers and younger children. The more violent cartoons and programs tend to be aired around the time most children will be arriving home from school (Chidley, 1996). Children who watch significant amounts of violent television are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, attitudes and values ("Children," 2002). Studies show that children who watched many hours of violence on television when they were in elementary school tended to show w higher level of aggressive behavior when they become teenagers. Psychologists L. Rowell Huesman and Leonard Eron also found that children who were entertained by a large amount of television violence at a young age were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults ("Violence," 2006). Out of the students survey for this project, only one person had either been arrested or served jail time.

The amount of violence a child is exposed to differs between ages. It is obviously that a young child may be susceptible to violent entertainment, but due to their short attention span, they will not focus on it very long. On the other hand, the older a person gets, the longer he or she will pay attention and will also be able to understand what is happening. Infants can pay attention to an operating television set for short periods of time, but the attention demands a great effort and infants are usually more interested in their own activities. Even when they do pay attention to the television, infants likely miss most of what adults consider to be program content. Children do not become full-fledged "viewers" until around the age of two-and-a half. As toddlers, they begin to pay more attention to the television set when it is on, and they develop a limited ability to extract meaning from television content. They are likely to imitate what they see and hear on television (Smithouser & Waliszewski, 2001). Elementary school age children develop the attention span and cognitive ability to follow plots and to recognize motivations and consequences to characters' actions. During adolescence, the middle school to high school years, children become capable of high levels of abstract thought and reasoning. Even though they have these skills, they rarely use them when watching television, continuing to invest little mental effort. They watch less television then they did when they were younger, and watch less with their families. They tend to develop a preference for music videos and horror movies. Adolescents in middle school and high school are much more likely than younger children to doubt the reality of television content and much less likely to identify with television characters. The small percentages of those who continue to believe in the reality of television and to identify with its violent heroes are the ones likely to be more aggressive, especially if they continue to fantasize about aggressive-heroic themes (Josephson, 1995).

Just as television has a major impact on the lives of children, music does as well. Although there ware motivational, calm, and peaceful songs, it has been proven by record sales that violence is the number one seller. The biggest "black sheep" of the music industry has been rap artist Eminem. His songs Kim and Kill You graphically depict him murdering his wife and describe how he plans to murder


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