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Youth violence is problem that is very apparent in society today and too often the media is blamed as the source of that problem. Whether it is in schools, playgrounds, or living rooms across America children are displaying violent tendencies while interacting with their peers. In some cases the violence reaches extreme levels of tragedy and destruction. Senseless tragedies, such as the Columbine High School shooting, as well as many other school shootings that have occurred across the nation have been said to be the result of over-exposure to violent media. Many believe that these recent horrific displays of violence have been a result of the increasing amount of hostility that the media portrays to children through television, movies, music, and video games. It would be a mistake not to believe that outlets such as these do have an effect on children, but it would be a greater mistake to lay the blame for child violence on the media alone. The blame should not fall on the media when it is society itself that is portrayed through its outlets. When the emphasis lies heavily on one aspect of a larger problem, other contributing aspects are ignored. The motivation for violence by youth in society does not stem primarily from media but from the environment the children grow up in. American society must take a strong look at the problem of youth violence and truly see that the problem is not the television in the living room, but possibly the environment of that living room.
Over the last decade the effects of media violence have been scrutinized and numerous case studies have been done to pinpoint these effects. However, no concrete evidence has been concluded from these scores of studies that have been able to do so. Author Richard Rhodes examined studies done by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Mental Health only to find that, “[…] no direct, casual link between exposure to mock violence has ever been demonstrated, and the few claims of modest correlation have been contradicted by other findings, sometimes in the same studies” (181). Rhodes is not alone in his deductions. The problem with the research studies done is the approach the researchers take in their studies. Many researchers attempt to take on a biological approach towards a psychological problem. This weakens the validity of any findings because the human subjects involved are susceptible and are already the result of to too many variables. Race, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds are just a few of these variables. Girls for example watch an equivalent amount of television as young boys, but they are not nearly as aggressive as young boys (Males). Too many of the case studies done do not give evidence of a connection or pinpoint the effects, long or short term, of the impact of media violence on youth.
It appears that the environments that children grow up in today are conducive for violence to become prevalent in their lives. The media is a reflection of society, and for some that reflection is not as pretty as one could hope for. The atmosphere in which many children grow up in, force them to suppress a lot of hardships and angry feelings, which will linger in them. Alexandra Marks describes what could and does happen to these feelings, “There’s a huge correlation between the levels of violence that we tolerate as a society within a family, and how it spills out to the rest of the community” (Marks). Children grow up in places that have real life violence all across the country. It is not just in the inner cities or low income areas either. Physical and mental abuses take place in homes and schools everyday and compel children with fragile minds to react. Mark Males also brings to light a 1993 report done by Childhelp USA stating, “Eighty-four percent of prison inmates were abused as children” (Males 2). Such prevalent social problems deserve much more attention than an episode of Power Rangers or the new Spiderman movie.
Sadly people in position to make a difference overlook such issues. Instead of passing legislatives laws to improve social conditions politicians rally for censorship of the media and go about various ways of brushing aside the issues at hand. Mike Males sums it up, “[…] media and legislative attention are rare, irreplaceable sources. Every minute devoted to thrashing over issues like violence in the media is one lost to addressing the accumulating social problems that are much more crucial contributors to violence in the real world” (3). The pro-censorship argument is deeply embedded in the idea that the media and the youth violence are connected in a fashion such that the latter is a result of the former. The connection between the two is complex because the media is not fully responsible for social violence. It is not likely that a man who is a law-abiding citizen will wake up and become killer after watching a horror movie. Critics of the media will make the argument that even though the media does not directly influence violence it does add fuel to the on going fire that is the problem of aggression in our society.
The legal action being taken by the government in regards to censorship are borderline unethical. For example, in Chicago the public libraries were required to install software that banned the public from accessing certain web sites because they portrayed violence. Richard Boire describes the way in which censoring the media in this situation violates the Constitution,
Banning access to certain information in public libraries violates the Constitution in at least two ways. First, restricting expression based on its content is a glaring violation of the First Amendment. The ban violates the First Amendment right to expression of those people whose Websites are barred from such important venues as the nation’s public libraries. Second, the ban violates the rights of citizens who are denied access to the suppressed information. The Supreme Court has held that the right to receive ideas is protected by the First Amendment (Boire).
It is hypocritical for America to use such rights as these as a foundation and then aim to infringed upon them by censoring the media. The government should not be in the business of policing the minds of Americans, rather they should recognize that unlimited access to information and freedom of expression are imperative for a healthy, functional democracy.
The case that pro-censors make is for the eventual regulation of the media and what it depicts to America’s youth. Ray Surette reminds us that, “[…] we were a violent nation before we had mass media, and there is no evidence that the removal of violent media would make us nonviolent” (3). The problem of violence in the eyes of the censors has a lot to do with the media and the way it illustrates violence as a sensible and acceptable alterative in the fantasy world that it creates. This “fake” world though has adverse affects on the children who watch it and conclude that it is suitable to bring the violence that occurs on the television into the world they live in. The media has been portraying violence as an accepted alternative for some time and now generations are becoming desensitized to violence in the real world. Before death and murder were acts that frightened and caused society to mourn, but now with death and murder a staple of any child’s nightly entertainment they are learning to treat such things as death and violence in a new light. Florence Loyie writes, “There is a generation of people out there who have been so emotionally desensitized by media violence they have learned to associate human death and suffering with pleasure” (Loyie 1). She also goes on to say, “Parents need to remember that up until about the age of seven, children have enormous difficulty telling the differences between fantasy and reality” (Loyie 2). Children need to be taught at a young age to deal with their emotions, otherwise they will have difficulty functioning in society in their future years. It is the duty of the parent to regulate their own child’s exposure to the media and to educate them on right and wrong, real and fake.
The true tragedy of this issue is that violence is real; and children are exposed to real life horrors everyday. Surette explains that we cannot attempt to reduce an aspect of violence is our violent society and expect to have dramatic results. “Youth violence will not be seriously reduced without violence in other aspects of our culture being addressed” (10). The violence we see today is a product of the culture America has developed in the past five decades. If we desire to change that culture we have to take on all of the facets of its personality. “We must everything we can, such as economic inequalities, the gun culture, and the glamorization of violence […] we must work to modify the individual, family, and neighborhood factors that violently predispose youth” (10).
The argument over whether the media is to blame for youth violence is one that resembles many facing society; it has many sides and deep beliefs. The side that supports the censorship of the media is passionate for its cause but struggles to find any conclusive evidence to support its ideas. It is for this reason that one should not place the blame of youth aggression on the media alone. By doing this society is using it as scapegoat for the real problem that is to hard to look face to face with. Taking away violent video games, harsh music lyrics, horror movies, and graphic television shows will not rid violence from society. All of those media outlets are reflections of how we live as a society and until we change the way in which our society operates violence will be prevalent and growing among our youths. It is not easy to examine oneself and admit to being a part of the problem, but if society can humble itself and look within, rather than out, for answers, a real solution will surface. Take away the media all together; however, until society can find an answer that is not a scapegoat, violence will continue to plague the nation.
Youth violence essay
ENG102- Professor High
WP-3- Visual Argument Essay
Gangs in the United States
In the past thirty years, gang activity and violence among youth has grown exponentially in the United States. Effort have been made to keep kids off the streets around the around the gangs, but these gangs have found their way into schools and communities across the country. It is our job as American citizens to do more to keep kids safe; away from the violence, drugs, and crime that result from gang activity.
Most street gangs that the youth are being recruited by started in urban areas where poverty and poor living conditions were present. However, this has changed in more recent times. Gang activity is popping up in all environments. There is gang presence in all fifty states in urban, suburban, and even the most rural communities (Tsou). These gangs will stop at nothing to get the money they desire. When these kids are recruited, they see that there is money coming in, so they see it as an opportunity to help their struggling families. The gangs offer them protection and money, which is an offer many of these kids are willing to take. Unfortunately these incentives are not guarantees. These children end up being forced to commit every type of crime out there and are often caught in the middle of these violent activities. Once in the gangs, even if the kids want to get out, they can’t. If they do leave, both the kids and their families instantly become targets of the gang they were affiliated with (Sex, Money, Murder). This causes them to not leave the gangs and eventually, they end up in prison, addicted to drugs, severely injured, or even dead (Gangs). There will always be violence in our society, but it is up to us to keep kids out of the line of fire.
When choosing a topic, I wanted to find something that I knew would appeal to the emotion of any person that isn’t completely heartless. Everyday innocent kids and families are affected by these gang activities across the countries. Even if someone hasn’t been directly affected by this, they will feel for those families that have. The audience this is targeted for are the people that don’t see this violence every day. I believe that those who live in places where youth and gang violence is an issue already know what the root causes of these activities are. However, those outside the circle of violence might be less aware of the causes.
Because it is such an issue these days, it wasn’t difficult to find visual items that portrayed the point I was trying to get across. The first picture is that of a little girl standing next to a picture of her sixteen year old brother, Derrion Albert. He was killed due to a gang related act (Fraser). The picture could bring a tear to anyone’s eye. The second graphic does a great job at saying what happens and why it happens with just a few words. It is a good outline for those that want to help, because it shows them exactly what needs to be taken care of in order to slow down the violence. An even better thing is the fact that the design was created by a girl that goes to a school where this gang violence is quite prevalent. The other part of my visual argument is the quote by politician, Matt Gonzales. In his statement, he says that because these kids do not have the opportunities and resources as others, they resort to these gang related activities. It is up to society to assist these kids and their families to get them out of the situation where they feel obligated to start their criminal acts. To make it more visual, I bolded the words: youth violence, opportunities, society, and failed. I felt like these words themselves could get the point across that we aren’t doing our job to bring up the rest of society and not just worry about our own well-being.
Like I said before, I knew this topic could use pathos to get to the heart of those who come across this site. I believe that if someone took note to what was said, even without the visual aide, people would start thinking more about gang activity and society. However, when they first see the pictures and the quotes, it will hit them even harder. The picture of the little girl says it all. She isn’t crying, but just standing there. With a somber look on her face, even that little girl understands that the killings need to stop. It shouldn’t take the death of a little girl’s brother to get people to lend a hand to these people living in areas where violence has taken control.
I chose the quote because I feel like it uses logos to attract the attention of viewers. I made the font all red, because it is the color that is most often associated with evil and violence. I also bolded a few words; which instantly brings up the terms youth violence, opportunity, society, and failed. Based off this typology, I do not think it would take much thinking to put the terms together and realize exactly what is wrong with society at as whole.
Finally, the picture created by the middle school girl, I believe uses ethos, pathos, and logos. Although I did not create the picture myself, I believe everything it says is true. I have not ever been directly affected by gang violence, but I know people who have, and it destroys lives of those affected by it. It is very straight forward by saying what exactly happens as a result of youth involvement and why these kids might get into the situation in the first place. This image also uses three colors: black, white, and red. These make the image seem very serious, because it is a dark subject.
The most difficult part of this process was to find a way to get the point across without being too graphic. A lot of the images and facts out there are pretty gruesome. Even though some people could handle it, I feel like having a picture of a dead body might be prevent people from staying on the page and seeing the message of the visual arguments. I think the way I used typography to make my quote stand out was a unique aspect of mine. When I see quotes that have special effects on them, not just boring text, it seems to stick in my mind better. I figured it must be the same for others as well. After reading the peer reviews I realized I needed to figure out how to make the layout of the site better. It was really bland. That was somewhat an issue of poor project management when coming up on my first draft being due, but I did better for the final draft. I believe the project turned out well, and hopefully others will come across it.
Youth Violence Essay
The author’s comments:
Essay that I had to write in middle school. I was in the top 5 in my grade.
Two words: Youth violence. It’s everywhere! You can’t escape it. Everywhere you look there is a crime occurring people under the age of 18 are in juvenile detention because they make preposterous decisions. Youth violence can ruin your life if you join any gang, commit murder, rob a bank, etc. Clearly, minors are making the wrong decisions by taking part in this. Once you do anything violent related it would be extremely hard to get out.
To begin with, I would like to say a few words about an incident that happened on May 26, 2000. This is an incident that my family would never forget. My dad’s best friend, Barry Grunow was shot and killed one day while he taught Language Arts at a Palm Beach County classroom. A 13 year old, Nathanial Brazil was sent home early that day and came back to school with a gun, while the school was on lockdown. He came up to Barry’s classroom door to talk to his girlfriend. Barry said no and Nathanial shot him. Barry died in his Language Arts classroom at Lake Worth Middle School. He never wanted to kill him, but still, he pulled the trigger. He serves up to 28 years in prison. Nathanial said in an interview that he is very sorry about what took place that day. However, if he never brought a gun to school, none of this would have happened, and I would be able to see him today. That is how violence has affected my life.
There are abundant amounts of reasons on how we can stop youth violence from occurring. Parents need to talk to their kids about youth violence. The majority of teenagers in gangs rarely talk to their parents. If they did, we probably wouldn’t have so many teens in gangs. In addition, the environment that teenagers live in also results in their actions. For example, if you live in a neighborhood where there are gun shots fired every week, then that person might be influenced, and commit crimes now or later on in life.
This is also a reason why we have guidance counselors. If they need someone to talk to there’s always someone there and hopefully it will prevent them from committing a felony or anything worse than that. The media plays a big role also, teens watch violent shows on television and play shooting video games .The parents aren’t monitoring what they are doing with electronic devices. Hopefully, they would realize it and hopefully reconsider what they do before they do it.
Furthermore, I can prevent youth violence by talking to elementary kids and help them fully understand what’s right and wrong, and how youth violence affects people’s lives. By the time they reach 16, they will know not to commit felonies and do the right thing. Kids need to learn this now so later on life they will make the right choices. It is evident that I help the younger kids on making the right choices because we want every child and teen to make the right choices.
To recapitulate, youth violence is on every corner of every street in every country! There are many ways to prevent youth violence, but teens keep ignoring the opportunities that can help them prevent doing absurd things later on in life. If they take the chance to listen, maybe just maybe, the number of the prisoners in juvenile detention would be much less. One day my dream that all violence will go away and there will finally be peace on Earth. This will only happen if teens do one thing and that is to… DO THE RIGHT THING!
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Essay on Youth Violence and Media
There has been a lot of research conducted on the notions that violence portrayed in media – such as television, video, film, music, newspapers and books – can have adverse effects on the children viewing it. Many people have suggested that media has allowed violence to become so prevalent in our societies. It has also been suggested that media has been responsible in making the children violent as well. Statistics have shown that an average person watches as much as 7 hours of television every day. It does not come as any surprise that a child between the age of two and five watches approximately 28 hours of television ever week (Johnson, 1990: Hoffman, 1990). Another thing that comes to mind is that there has been a lot of allowance of violence in the media ever since broadcasting was deregulated in 1980. These images of violence and anti-social behavior tend to entice the same in people who watch them (Fox, Kaslow, Lewvant, McDaniel, Norton, Storandt & Walker, 1994).
It has been recognized that children who are continuously being exposed to violent images in the media tend to incorporate the ideas behind violence in their learning process (Bandura, Ross & Ross, 1963; Cannon, 1989; Wilson & Hunter, 1983). The phenomenon of violence is also very complex and there are many factors that can or cannot induce violent behavior in a human being. Many people have suggested that the individuals' personalities, their family backgrounds, their cultural, educational, and religious implications, all contribute to acts of violence. It is believed that children learn from things that happen around them and also by observing people who are important to them, e.g. parents, teachers, priests etc. This is because children start to develop a sense of themselves and others and a sense of right and wrong very early (Piaget, 1932; Sullivan, 1953; Winnicott, 1965). Children who are raised in a society where inequality is supported, they find more evidence of selfishness, competition and domination, they are more likely to grow up to be violent people (West, 1993).
From this we can derive the fact that children are more likely to be exposed to violent material in the media if they are not supervised properly and are not guided properly. Many researches have contributed to this as realizations have been made that prolonged exposure to violence and anti-social behavior in the media to children causes them to be more involved in the use of alcohol and drugs (Evans, 1987; McBee, 1982), and cheat more in school, (Greene, 1992; Greene & Saxe, 1991; McBee, 1982). Even though it has been said that there is a very positive relationship between violence in a person and violence that he/she has been exposed to in the media (Freedman, 1984; 1986), there are many other factors that also have to be considered when viewing the exact effect of violence in media on a child or a person. Although almost everyone would agree that children who view violence in media might turn out to be violent in their real lives, this cannot be the only factor that must be considered when drawing such a conclusion.
That is to say that some of the evidence that has been gathered from the laboratory experiments and other correlational research tend to point otherwise. Some of the laboratory findings have suggested that watching violent images on television can increase the probability of subsequent maladaptive behavior (Evans & McCandless, 1978). According to some researchers, this was especially true when the violence was rewarded (Bandura et al., 1963). Andison (1977) found that the effects on aggression by viewing violence on television are not necessarily more in children as compared to the adult viewers. This research, even though inconclusive, also found that the effects of violence in media were slightly stronger on adults than they were on preschool children. These findings are very different from those that have suggested that media can have more effects on children since they are more susceptible in their growing years.
Research that has been conducted in the field and also by correlation also provides some other important perspectives on this issue. These researches show that the images of violence viewed on television can have various different kinds of effects on the viewer and these effects largely depend on the personality of the viewer. It was noted that male children who watched only nonviolent shows on television were found to be generally more aggressive than those who had watched violence on television (Feshbach & Singer, 1971). Findings by Friedrich and Stein (1973), however, have suggested that there exists a complex relationship between interpersonal aggression and the watching of violent television programs. It was also found that people who were high on the aggression list and those who saw violence in the media, took a longer time in coming down from their aggressive state than did high-aggressors who saw neutral or nonviolent images. On the other hand, those who were low on aggression and who saw nonviolent images became more aggressive than those who saw violence on television. This means that even those images that were nonviolent evoked an aggressive response under certain conditions (Gadow Sprafkin. 1989). The programs that were used to determine this included Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (Coates, Pusser & Goodman, 1976).
These findings have made many researchers question the true nature of violence in the media and how it can or cannot affect the child in various ways. Some studies have also suggested that it is not the nature of the programs but the number of hours that a child spends in front of the television that is the cause of the adverse effects. This is so according to Belson (1978), who believes that aggression could be derived from watching violent television as often as it could be derived from watching nonviolent images.
The research on children has been restricted to because of many factors. It is believed that children are a special audience (Dorr, 1986). They are generally considered to be more vulnerable to the exposure of various contents on television, more than adults are known to be affected. This is because the minds of children are in a stage of cognitive immaturity and the cognitive pathways in their minds can easily be shaped by various media that are fed into it. It has been found that television is a particularly attractive thing for the children and the children tend to view television more than they indulge in other activities. This is why television has an enormous potential of shaping the way a child might think and act. There are many kinds of programs that come on the television and many of them have been specifically designed to mold and nurture the minds of children. Thus it is also very possible that children who view violent images on television can have certain adverse affects on their brains. This can in turn affect their personalities and instill a fascination with violence for the rest of their lives.
As discussed above, there is much disagreement as to exactly how television viewing can or cannot affect the minds of children. One that that is for sure is that children do tend to watch a whole lot of television. Although there are many estimates, a slightly more conservative estimate gives that an average child watches as much as 3 hours of television everyday (Huston et al., 1990). The effects of viewing tend to depend largely on the nature of the programs but this is also debatable since the factors involving individual personalities are also to be considered.
Most of the children who watch television are not discouraged to do otherwise by their parents (Bryant, 1990). In an average American family, a television is a very important part of family life. Families sit together and watch many television shows and most of the times young children are watching television in front of their parents. One study concluded that children watched television with children more than seventy percent of the time (St. Peters, Fitch, Huston, Wright, & Eakins, 1991). It has also been determined that television habits are formed in the early years of a child. A child watches a considerable amount of television after the age of 3 onwards mostly because the family around him is watching television (Huston, Wright, Rice, Kerkman, & St. Peters, 1990). The parents are mostly blamed for not regulating their children's television viewing habits. This has also been found that not many parents put in an effort to regulate their children's television viewing patterns. Children learn by their parents' examples and if the parents watch a lot of television, so do the children. (St. Peters et al.,1991).
The parents also play an integral role in the children's mind about the contents of what they view on television. If the parents also enjoy watching violent images on television, the children are also more likely to like and thus view more violence on television. Many studies have indicated that explaining what the child just saw on television can greatly help resolve many issues in the child's mind and also helps them to make better and informed decisions later on. It is believed that if the parents discuss the ideas behind the aggression shown on television with their children, the violent images tend to have a considerably less affect on the child (Desmond, Singer, & Singer, 1990; Wright, St. Peters, & Huston, 1990). It has also been theorized that television may also affect the whole family as a group, that is, in the way that they spend their time and events together (Bryant, 1990). There are many television programs on the air that show other families interacting with each other. These families have served as role models for many American families all over the nation for many years. It is very likely that your normal average family is akin to these families and takes up and adopts many or some of the patterns that they see being interacted on television. These patterns can be considered as what defines normality for these people.
For the most part, it is very relevant to study the literature that is on the topic of the effects of televised violence on aggression (Geen & Thomas, 1986; Hearold, 1986; Roberts & Maccoby, 1985). The fact that keeps recurring is that it is only the televised viewing that brings about an increased aggressive state but it other factors also have to be considered. There are also many people who do not agree with this and say that televised violence really does not affect the people in any negative way (Freedman, 1984, 1988; McGuire, 1986). Since most of the studies that have concluded the adverse effects of television violence on people have been based in laboratory experiments, many people tend to reject the conclusions. “Critics of laboratory research base their arguments on allegations that such studies represent only analogs of aggressive behavior and not cross-sections of it (e.g., Freedman, 1984). Partly because of such arguments, interest in laboratory experiments began to wane in the 1970s as research on the effects of televised violence became based more and more on studies in natural settings. Some of these studies, usually called field experiments, involved the use of experimental methodology in natural settings. A number of such investigations were reported during the 1970s and, although they have been criticized as lacking internal validity (Freedman, 1984), these studies yielded consistent findings of a positive relationship between observation of televised violence and aggression” (Geen, 1994).
Friedrich-Cofer and Huston (1986) provide a detailed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of these studies. Also, Wood, Wong & Chachere (1991) also reported the results and meta-analysis of 28 filed experiments that were conducted between 1956 and 1988. “The studies included in this analysis were chosen because they investigated the effects of media violence on aggression among children and adolescents during unconstrained social interaction with strangers, classmates, and friends. Wood and her colleagues concluded that media violence does enhance aggression in such settings and that, because all the experiments involved short-term immediate reactions to observed violence, the effects may be due to temporary changes in affect and arousal as well as to long-term processes like modeling” (Geen, 1994).
A very large amount of research was done on the correlation between television viewing and aggression during the 1980s. “One such investigation was the final phase of a longitudinal project begun in the late 1950s by Eron and his associates (Eron, Walder, & Lefkowitz, 1971). The research began with the study of third-grade students in a rural county in upstate New York. Each child’s level of aggressiveness was assessed through ratings made by parents, peers, and the children themselves; each child’s preference for violent television programs was also measured. Measures of the same variables were obtained 10 and 22 years later from many of the same children. The method of cross-lagged panel correlation was used for analysis of the data. The results of the 10-year follow-up (Lefkowitz, Eron, Walder, & Huesmann, 1977) revealed that among boys the amount of televised violence watched during third grade was positively correlated with aggressiveness 10 years later, whereas the correlation between aggressiveness during Grade 3 and the amount of violent television watched a decade later was essentially zero. Following the assumptions of cross-lagged correlation analysis, Eron and his associates inferred a causal relation between observing violence and aggressiveness from these data. For girls, both correlations were not significantly greater than zero. In 1984, Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, and Walder reported the results of the 22-year follow-up. A positive relationship between childhood television viewing and subsequent aggressiveness was again suggested: The seriousness of crimes for which males were convicted by age 30 was significantly correlated with the amount of television that they had watched and their liking for violent programs as 8-year-olds. Again, aggressiveness at age 8 was not related to either overall viewing practices or preference for violent programs at age 30” (Geen, 1994).
Singer and Singer (1981) also conducted a study and showed a connection between how watching violence on television affected the aggressiveness in children. This study was conducted on nursery school age children for 1-year. “At four times during the year, 2-week periods were designated as probes during which parents kept logs of their children’s television viewing. Meanwhile, observers recorded instances of aggressive behavior by the children during school hours. When data were combined across all four probes, aggressive behavior was found to be significantly correlated with the total amount of time spent in watching “action-adventure” programs, all of which manifested high levels of violence. This effect was found for both boys and girls.
The pattern of cross-lagged correlations over the four probe periods led the Singers to conclude that the television viewing was leading to the aggressive behavior over the first two comparisons (i.e., from probe 1 to probe 2 and from probe 2 to probe 3). Over the final comparison (from probe 3 to probe 4), however, the cross-lagged pattern showed that not only was earlier viewing correlated with subsequent aggression, but also that earlier aggression was correlated with subsequent viewing. In other words, by the latter phase of the study a reciprocal effect was being shown. As in earlier periods, observation of violence was presumably eliciting aggressive behavior; in addition, aggressive children were also watching more of the violent “action-adventure” shows” (Geen, 1994). This second finding, that people who are high on the aggressiveness scale might like to watch more violence on television is consistent with the results of the laboratory experiments conducted by Fenigstein (1979). In this experiment, people who had had a history of physical aggression against others tended to select television viewing material that was more violent in nature than compared to those who were not as aggressive. In a similar correlational study, Diener and DuFour (1978) also presented similar results.
Media has always provided children with entertainment and visual imagery and imagination that have worked to enhance their minds and also develop their brains. Media has also helped the children in keeping their fears in check and controlling their anxieties. “Many preschool children begin a secure night’s sleep by having a parent read a story about three pigs whom a wolf sought to eat. The two pigs who quickly built shelters of straw and of wood so that they could play the rest of the day were devoured by the wolf. The third built his house of brick and would go out early in the mornings to obtain food while the wolf was still asleep. He eventually scalded to death and ate the big bad wolf. According to Bettelheim (1975), this story “teaches the nursery age child in a most enjoyable and dramatic form that we must not be lazy and take things easy, for if we do we may perish. Intelligence, planning, and foresight, combined with hard labor, will make us victorious over even our most ferocious enemy–the wolf!” (pp. 41-42). It may at first seem odd that a child would choose to be frightened at bedtime, a time often already characterized by anxiety brought on by darkness and by the prospect of being alone. The fairy tale initially increases that anxiety, then provides a mechanism for relief. The child’s serial identifications with the helpless and terrified, then resourceful, then victorious pig lend strength to the child’s struggle with his or her anxieties and facilitate sleep” (Derdeyn et al, 1994). Thus some researchers stress the fact that violent images in the media are necessary for children since it helps them deal with many things and to motivate the mastery of their own emotions and states of mind.
So what is the conclusion that we come to? Is the violence in media bad for the children, or is some of it necessary? Does viewing violence on television have any adverse affects on the children? Is it the nature of television programming that is more harmful or just watching any kind of television bad? Although many of the laboratory experiments that have been reviewed herein suggest that there is a positive relationship between aggressiveness and television viewing, the research remains inconclusive. But it will not be wrong to face the direction of thought that violence in the media does lead to aggressive behavior, as pointed out by the longitudinal studies that were conducted during the 1980s. “The issue may never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction, and certainly more research, using state-of-the-art methodology, is needed to settle the many remaining problems before conclusive evidence may be forthcoming. Even so, at the present time we do appear to have a fairly large amount of what Cook and his colleagues (1983) have called “circumstantial evidence” for a hypothesis that observation of violence on television produces some increase in aggressiveness of the viewers” (Geen, 1994)
Various scholars and researchers have tried to explain the relationship between television violence and aggression in different ways. “Until recently, such explanations were based on theoretical concepts that were popular during the 1960s, such as disinhibition, arousal, and activation of conditioned responses. During the 1980s, two new theoretical explanations emerged, both of which are based on more recent cognitive models of behavior” (Geen, 1994).
So far, the evidence that has been collected from various types of studies, including laboratory experiments, field experiments, longitudinal studies, and archival studies, are in favor of the notion that viewing violence on television does have adverse affects on the aggressiveness of the subjects who are watching the programs. These studies have focused on children, adolescents and young adults, and a wide range of constrained and unconstrained behaviors. Even though there might be many limitations to these studies due to the large number of population and the small number of sample, the results from so many researchers have seemed to point to the same direction. “Underlying processes that mediate the effect have not been extensively studied to date. However, some promising developments in theory are taking place, involving the development of models derived from affective, cognitive, and motivational psychology. The debate over the consequences of television violence for aggression is by no means over, and future studies of the problem will benefit from both the large literature on the subject and the emergence of the new theoretical approaches” (Geen, 1994).
A comprehensive literature review has been presented herein that has purported the role that media can play in the aggressiveness of the viewers. It can be concluded that even though media can play a big role in the way a person grows up to react in a negative way, it is not the only factor that is to be taken in consideration. “But to the extent to which the media can influence behavior and facilitate the expression of violence in certain individuals, it is important that carefully designed interventions be implemented. This is particularly the case since the media can also have clear educational influences in teaching a prosocial message and the complexity of human motivation as shown in our analysis” (Herron et al, 1998) of the various literature presented above. Television is a very popular media and it is expected that people, especially children, will continue to watch television and their lives will continue to be affected by the various programs and shows that they watch. It is very important today, for all the parents, teachers, and model citizens, to get involved and try to make the affects of media as non-violent on our children as possible.
All the parents must monitor the television watching activities of their children. The parents must make sure that they sit and watch television with their children and keep explaining to them what is going on. The children need to know how the violent images shown on television are not real and that they should not try to emulate what they see on television. Parents should not use television as a 'babysitter' and must make the television viewing experience a family affair with the children. “It is our contention that the abdication of parental responsibilities and the erosion of the family are major contributors to the increasing number and the severity of the societal problems we face, including our subject, violent behavior” (Herron et al, 1998).
The teachers in schools must also actively participate in educating the children about what they see on television. “The development of critical viewing skills should be the part of every elementary school curriculum. Curricula for the development of critical viewing skills already exists and has been shown to be effective (e.g., Singer, Singer & Zuckerman, 1981). Teaching children how to watch television more productively is extremely important because the use of educational television and other media appears to be growing in all educational levels” (Herron et al, 1998).
Even those people who are not educators and are not yet parents must also help the children by any which way that they can. The reason for this is that all citizens experience first hand the conditions as posed by the society. The children of today are going to grow up to form the societies of tomorrow. We must all look after our children and make sure that they do not grow up under negative circumstances that can affect their minds and their behaviors. “Our concerns about violence should not only include the need to monitor the kinds of programs our children watch but to advocate an understanding of the personal, family and societal issues which cause violence and determine what role television can play in reaching that understanding” (Herron et al, 1998).
This means that everybody in the community must become involved if we are all to minimize the affects of violence in media on our children. There is a large chance that the violence in the media can propagate the interface and can directly, or indirectly, affect the viewers, especially children. At the same time, however, the same media can also be used to negate the harmful affects. There should be more awareness shows on television that teach children the hazards of violence and these must try to grab their attention without the use of violence or other objectionable material. “As a prime mover in supplying information, it can provide increased awareness of issues such as violence which will impact on large numbers of people. It is our hope that many will seek solutions to such problems by becoming more sophisticated users of what is available to them in the media. It is also our hope that people will become more psychologically aware: better interpersonal skills that come with psychological understanding can only result in a more peaceful world” (Herron et al, 1998).
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