Violence in Media By Gareth Steinke
Introduction In this essay I am going to be researching and writing about three questions based around media. I am going to be going into depth using primary and secondary research to get the roots of how violence in the media effects young people and if media is really to blame for causing people to become violent. The three questions that I will base my research off will be ''How do role models have an effect on children?'', ''What influence do cartoons have on children?'' and ''Why are video games the main blame for making people violent?''. I will be answering these with opinions and research from online sources and also primary research from people that have filled in questionnaires on what they believe to be personal opinions. I will try to ask a variety of people so that I get a better range of answers.
With the rise in violent crimes being committed by adults and even children, people have been looking for answers for the cause to the recent rise in these crimes and what causes children and adults to commit these acts. For a long time now people have been looking to blame something so that they may prevent this from happening in future cases and their perceptions and ideas have strayed across a number of different sources looking for a suitable answer. One of these answers that have been uncovered is based around violence in media and because of this media now gets a lot of attention when people search for the reason a person has committed a crime. An example of this is from an article about a man called Adam Lanza who went on a gun spree, the first thing the article describes is that Adam Lanza was obsessed with weapons and violent video games. ''Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza was 'obsessed' with weapons and violent video games such as call of duty'' (Hartley-parkinson.R, 2013). This article clearly states that games are the most likely cause for his shooting. It can be argued though that this person would of done this without the influence of video games. Crimes have been committed throughout time even before media had a massive influence on people and violence has been around for as long as history has been recorded. A news article explains that a skull that is estimated to be 150,000 to 200,00 years old has to possibly of being hit by a projectile suggesting violence dating back to this far. ''The individual, who lived 150,000-200,000 years ago, suffered blunt force trauma to the right temple - possibly from being hit with a projectile'' (Paul Rincon, 2011) This article proves that violence has existed between people a long time before a person could watch a movie, TV show or even play a game. It is not to say though that even though this has happened before these exist, media could still give encouragement to cause certain people so commit violent acts in their own personal life.
The first question I asked myself is what if people are affected at an early age from exposure to violence from media and then I went on to think most children today are continually exposed to TV watching cartoons and other shows. This is where I came up with my first starting point for linking violence in media to how people behave ‘‘what influence do cartoons have on children?’’ As I said before children are exposed to cartoons and other shows almost everyday while growing up but what about violent cartoons and how could these affect children and change the way they perceive the world. In an online article it is stated from a study ''this study revealed that early childhood exposure to TV violence predicted aggressive behavior for both males and females in adulthood'' (Huesmann, 2003) From this study it is said that children exposed to violence do show additional violence in later stages of life but this could be said that it depends on the persons qualities.
What influence do cartoons have on children? There are many cartoons that people do not see as aggressive but in realism they can show violent sides where most of the characters get hurt and even attack each other. Take roadrunner for example, this shows a coyote chasing a roadrunner and setting up a number of traps to capture it. Each episode the coyote fails to capture the roadrunner but ends up getting hurt every episode by devices that would kill him in reality. This could give children a false sense of reality when it comes to committing real life acts and could change the way they perceive life and death itself. A news article that straightforward backs up that cartoons can make children more aggressive is one from the daily mail. This states ‘’children copied and identified with fantasy characters just as much as they would with screen actors.’’ (Clark, L, 2009) This statement basically says that children will imitate what they see on TV and if they see a cartoon character they like commit an act of violence then they are very likely to copy this. This can be argued against though since there are near to no cases of children committing crimes based off a cartoon and even so, some of the violence is almost impossible to repeat that is shown. Although sometimes cartoons are to blame for acts of violence in social areas this has not been proven to be true and still is unresolved.
Cartoons can have more than one effect on children when they are watching them because of the confusing acts the characters sometimes commit and because of this they could perceive the world as a dangerous place. This could change the children’s perceptive and even personality. ‘‘Children’s TV shows contain about 20 violent acts each hour and also that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a mean and dangerous place.’’ (American Psychological Association, 1999) This could even cause children to fear certain aspects of life and limit them in certain areas later on in there life.
Due to not enough evidence and not very many cases of cartoons pushing people to make violent decisions. It can be argued that cartoons have near to no effect on children at all because they don’t fully understand what they watch and see it as mindless humor. This could be proven wrong though with further and more detailed research that is acquired. ‘’Broadcasters believe that there is not enough evidence to prove that TV violence is harmful.’’ (American Psychological Association, 1999). General research was done round a local area in Ellesmere Port to see what people thought of the idea that cartoons can encourage young children to act more violent in their later life, the answers that I received from people varied but after looking through them something stood out. Most people thought that certain cartoons were violent and should have an age limit on them depending on what is show during the airing. This might be a common view on cartoons but there is no real evidence that this does have an effect on people in their later life.
How do role models have an effect on children? Another big influence on children and young adults is role models. Almost everyone has a role model and follows them to some extent. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on how the role model acts and what they influence on other people. Take Justin Bieber for example, he was discovered in 2008 at the age of 14 and released his first song inspiring thousands of fans across the world to follow him mostly consisting of young females. During his recent tour in Sweden police found drugs and a stung gun on one of his Tour buses after smelling cannabis. ''Drugs and a stun gun were found on Justin Bieber's tour bus used after Swedish police raided the vehicle (Blistein J, 2013). Even though the singers tour bus has been found with drugs stashed away in it because of the singers fame and popularity it is most likely he will get away with it.
The fact that celebrities can get away with this when they are looked up to by so many people can influence young people that follow their acts and even copy them. An example of a bad role model is in this article ''the role of drug addict was a part she learned from having observed her mother'' (Aguirre Abby, 2008). In this article it tells of a young girl called Roxanne Adorno that learned the role of becoming a drug addict from observing her mother when she was only 17. This shows that role models have a huge effect on young peoples lives and can change the way they perceive the world and inhabit it from just a young age. People that come into contact with young children or are seen often by them should take into consideration that they could have huge effects with their actions and could change the way society works itself by encouraging young children everyday. On the other hand not all people have a negative outcome on children when preforming their jobs such as a career or parenting. Take teachers for example they take time out of their own lives to educate children so that they may have a future in later life. Doctors as well do the same to help those in need to make sure others have a change in their time of need. ''A doctor is being hailed a hero after he saved the life of a dancer who collapsed on stage at a recent theater performance.'' (Rachel Quigley, 2012). This alone should be advertised more to improve how young children see the world and can even change how they see and value life.
It is not entirely the role models fault in the first place but the people who make him or her famous. Media has a big part on this reporting on stories that may not be base for children to hear and if a bad story can make the person infamous and rarely cause others to follow in their footsteps. It should be controlled what young children see and if more control is shown like this it will change how they view life when they grow older.
Why are video games the main blame for making people violent? Now there is certain type of media that gets huge blame towards encouraging and even causing people to become more violent. This media is video games and they have been around for about 50 years now from their early stages to their more advanced form today. There are many reasons why this type of media is to blame but there is also a lot of evidence that goes against these reasons so the debate on what sides beliefs are true still rages on today. The first side in this debate is the people who blame video game violence for most of today's violence with guns and other methods, it is believed that this ideology only exists because of news articles reporting on this matter linking video games to shootings and other devastating crimes.
Most newspapers report on shootings in high detail on what the person that committed this act did moments before and other violent history that they have gone through. When this happens sometimes the article mentions violent games that the person has played and this is where the game starts to get a bad reputation. ''Sandy Hook Shooter Linked to Violent 'Call of Duty' Games, Sparking Debate'' (Jordan Zakarin, 2012). ''CBS News correspondent Bob Orr Reports that Adam Lanza was motivated by violent video games'' (Ryan Jaslow, 2013) From these articles is it clear that influence can be spread from media to put pressure on video games being violent and causing people to become more violent after watching them.
On the other hand though there is evidence that since the upcoming on violent video games crime has dropped because it gives people a new out put to release stress and gives people a reason not to go out and commit crimes in a society. Video games give people an opportunity to shoot away their anger in a war against a common enemy or even fly a space ship through space leaving the earth behind and in some cases grow their own garden making it home to animals and plants. This raises the question that is video game violence truly linked to a rise in aggression with certain people. A theory is that some people play video games in preparation to go out and act on their urges but this means that before they even get their hands on the video game they are going to use their mind is already twisted in this foul way before video games come into motivation but because media sees these two events as so close together they believe it to be a motivation to the crime. After research around Ellesmere Port asking a mix of people two out of every three people thought that video games did not have an effect on people.
It can be easily be proven from sources as well that video games are helpful to society rather than negative. People including young children mainly get in trouble when they are bored and this happened a lot before video games were there to be a filler in most people lives during the in between moments. ''I know that when I was a kid, I pretty much only got in to trouble when I was bored. I was usually bored because my mom was making me go outside instead of playing video games'' (Zack Ames, 2013). A study in the New York Times demonstrated a sharp rise in violent video games sales over a period time and at the same time there was no rise in in violent youth crime and maybe even a decrease in it. ''the rise in sales of violent videogames does not cause a spike in the rates of violent youth crime'' (John Walker, 2013).
Over all from the primary and secondary research that was done it appears that media can have some minimum effects on young children but it should not be to blame for an increase in violence in children. There should be more parental control over what their child sees and it should be encouraged for normal everyday people that help the public in beneficial ways to be show as role models more than always focusing on the terrible aspects of life in media. Video games should not be held accountable as statistics show that since the release of violent video games violent crime has decreased since the need for people to try and pass the time outside bored can now spend time taking their frustrations out in a fantasy world. The thing that should be held accountable for violence in children is the role models that they see and grow up following their lifestyle and adopting their views on life.
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Rachel Quigley, 2012. Doctor saves life of dancer, 22, after he collapses on stage during theater show. [Online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2138382/Doctor-saves-life-dancer-22-collapses-stage-theater-show.html [Accessed 29.04.2013] Jordan Zakarin, 2012. Sandy Hook Shooter Linked to Violent 'Call of Duty' Games, Sparking Debate. [Online] Available at: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sandy-hook-shooter-linked-violent-404576 [Accessed 29.04.2013] Ryan Jaslow, 2013. Violent video games and mass violence: A complex link. [Online] Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57569948/violent-video-games-and-mass-violence-a-complex-link/ [Accessed 29.04.2013] Zack Ames, 2013. 8 Ways Video Games Have Saved Our Society. [Online] Available at: http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/8-ways-video-games-have-saved-our-society [Accessed 29.04.2013] John Walker, 2013. Study Finds Violent Games Reduce Violence. [Online] Available at: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/14/study-finds-violent-games-reduce-violence-hmmmm/ [Accessed 29.04.2013]