Connections between violence in media and real violence

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Increased prevalence of violent scenes in television shows, movies, and computer games has raised questions as to whether it could be a contributing factor in the multiplying cases of physical aggressiveness in the society. Various scholars and psychologists have researched to establish whether there is a connection between media and real acts of violence. A consensus of studies indicates that continued exposure to violent imagery could be a risk factor for real-life violence. In other words, this understanding contends that not all individuals who are exposed to rough scenes through the media will demonstrate physical aggressiveness to other people in society. However, the theory purports that increased exposure to violent imagery could increase the possibility of forceful personality on people. Despite the negative aspects of media violence, other people have also identified some benefits associated with children watching such scenes. There is limited evidence to support a substantial connection between media violence and aggressive behavior of people apart from an increased chance of violent acts due to excessive exposure to violent scenes.

Technological developments have increased the global influence of media on people of different cultural placements. Children, adolescents, and adults have been exposed to a variety of media content including those featuring violent scenes. Violent imagery has been prevalent in television shows, movies, as well as video games that involve fighting and shooting. Krahe noted that video games lead to aggressive cognition and influence the behavior of individuals in the end (354). Whenever there is a significant film shooting or launching of media content that involves violence, critics tend to ask questions as to whether these scenes provoke violence in the society. However, violent media content has been attributed to increased chances of aggressive behavior amongst overly exposed individuals in the community.

Different scholars have conducted various studies with the objective of identifying the possible effects of violence in television shows. Findings by Huesmann and Eron indicate that it increases the possibility of real-life violence and aggressive behavior towards other people with a short-term perspective (259). Further, regular watching of violent media content tends to raise the risk of violent acts against other people in the end. However, these findings prompt for questions such as whether there would be any correlation between television shows featuring violent imagery that is usually purported to cause social violence, and on the other hand, literary works such as the casting spells of Harry Porter create wizards in real life situations. Are fantasy scenes presented in literary actions any different from those in television shows, movies, and video games? Although this perspective has its adherents, it is worthwhile to consider the fact that millions of people are exposed to violent imagery on a daily basis, but just a few that exhibit extreme behavioral characteristics. Such reasoning would mean that other factors could contribute to social violence apart from the media. As such, violent media content is considered to increase the chances of outrageous behavior, but not directly linked as a causal factor.

Research findings on the possible effects of violent video games on children and youths have also indicated that there is an increased risk of aggressive behavior in such individuals. Besides, some games mainly involve fighting, shootings, and other forms of violence. Extended exposure to such imagery tends to instill antisocial characters amongst children and youths as well. Conclusive findings by Krahe indicate that violent computer games pose a threat to the public and especially the young generation (355). The consistency of the evidence from different studies has also demonstrated that violent scenes in films, televisions, and on computer games have negative implications on psychological aspects of an individual. For example, exposure to extreme imagery might manipulate the emotions, thoughts, and attitudes of individuals, thus increasing their aggressiveness, especially the young ones.

Increased cases of violence in the society have raised concerns about the role of media in promoting unethical behaviors in the community. Are the recent school shootings and extreme immorality amongst young people linked with exposure to media violence? Despite the fact that this notion might hold in some circumstances, there is limited evidence in its support. However, lack of supportive evidence may not necessarily mean that this theory does not hold. Preferably, media violence would only be viewed as a risk factor that may replicate in real-life settings. The findings from different studies to establish the connection between media violence and real acts of physical aggressiveness have also found behavioral changes due to increased exposure to such media. In essence, habitual viewing of violent imagery may transform the behavioral characteristics of an individual on a short-term basis. According to study results by Pozios, Kambam, and Bender, exposure to media violence could lead to desensitization, aggression, and lack of sympathy (2). These effects are mainly attributed to children who are still in their psychological development stages in life (Huesmann & Eron 76). Owing to this reason, it is clear that these findings support the position that violence in media is a risk factor for real-life acts of violence rather than a causal factor since not all are involved in social disorder as a result of continued exposure to these media.

Apart from the negative attributions of violence in media, other people have also argued that it might be beneficial to children. Notably, media violence has mainly been related to adverse behavioral changes on children and youths. Is media violence suitable for children? One of the arguments is that the love for fantasy violence does not indoctrinate children, but instead provide them with skills they desperately need for their safety and survival. Moreover, violent media also enable children to withstand the pressures of the world, trust their emotions, and become hardened against various challenges that they might face in future. Owing to this reason, it is evident that scary films allow children to develop psychologically and come up with ways of dealing with challenges in their life.

Based on evidence gathered by various researchers, it is apparent that media violence is a risk factor for actual violence in the society. However, a clear connection exists between what people see on screens and the way they act in real life. For that reason, it is important to strategize on practical means of mitigating the effect, especially on the younger generation to safeguard the futurity of the society. For example, it would be important to prevent children from watching violent shows on televisions and movies. The reason for this argumentation is that extensive exposure to such imagery ought to corrode their morality, increase their aggressiveness, and promote violence in future. Hence, it would be essential to prevent this exposure at an early stage to minimize the potential implications. Supervising children and the young individuals while they play violent video games would also be essential to limit their time of exposure. By doing so, people would significantly minimize the risk and prevalence of social violence due to increased exposure to violent imagery.

All in all, it is clear that technological developments have enabled global influence of media, especially for entertainment purposes. Violent scenes have also been featured increasingly in films, television shows, and computer games to attract a diverse audience. However, it is noticeable that excessive exposure to this violent imagery has had its implications for the society, by negatively influencing the behavioral characteristics of individuals. Results from a variety of studies indicate that there is a connection between media violence and real-life acts of physical aggressiveness. Although media lack substantiality as a causal factor, it maintains and supports the position that excessive exposure to violent scenes on the screens can contribute to aggressive behavior among certain individuals in the society. Apart from the adverse effects of violence in media, children also have the likelihood of acquiring essential skills and emotional strength that are necessary to deal with life challenges in future. However, the negative implications of media violence seem to outweigh the advantages associated with their consumption. Effective methods of minimizing the adverse effects have also been provided such as preventing children from watching violent scenes on television shows, movies, and videos. By doing so, it would help reduce the vulnerability of the young generation to the risk factor that would otherwise negatively influence their social behavior.

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  1. Huesmann, L. Rowell, and Leonard D. Eron. Television and the Aggressive Child: A cross-national comparison. Routledge, 2013.
  2. Krahé, Barbara. “Violent video games and aggression.” The Oxford handbook of media psychology, 2013, pp. 352-372.
  3. Pozios, Vasilis K., Praveen R. Kambam, and H. Eric Bender. Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing? New York Times. 2013.
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