Violence in the Media & the Affects on Society

Written by georgiana r. frayer-luna
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Violence in the Media & the Affects on Society
Long-term affects of media violence concern researchers. (FPG/Retrofile/Getty Images)

The National Center for Educational Statistics reports 38 deaths in a 12 month period in 2008-2009, 1.2 million non-fatal acts of violence, and that 8 per cent of students have been threatened or injured by a weapon in school-related violence. Researchers acknowledge the effects of media violence on children and young adults and express concern about long-term effects of violence in mass media

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Media Violence

Note what is involved when research addresses media violence. In their research investigating violence and media influence, Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Huesmann, Johnson, Linz, Malamuth and Wartella "use the term violence to refer to the more extreme forms of physical aggression that have a significant risk of seriously injuring their victims." Most research in the area of violence and media influence has concentrated on passive involvement such as viewing television, movies and film. Anderson et al., express growing concern and encourage further research in the area of interactive violence such as video games.

School-related Violence

Review the statistics reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics. These statistics underline the basis for concern that violence portrayed in media is influencing behaviour in school. This organisation reports that during 2007-2008, individuals between the ages of 5-18 years committed or were victims of homicide. The suicide count for 2007 for this same age group is 1,231. In addition, the statistics indicate that between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, there were 38 deaths associated with school and that 1.2 million students were afflicted with acts like simple assault, theft and other acts of violence that did not result in a fatality. In addition, 8 per cent of students in school reported that they were threatened or injured with a gun, knife or club on school property.

Short-term vs. Long-term Effects

Consider that researchers like Anderson et al., evaluate media influence in immediate or short-term effects and effects that are residual or long-term. Short-term effects result in triggering any tendency for aggression already present and the natural tendency to copy behaviour. Short-term effects also include stimulating psychological responses like fight-or-flight. Long-term effects causing concern are those that relate to learning behaviours and violent-laden norms. Another long-term effect of media violence is reducing individual concern about violence in general or desensitising.

Compelling Literature

Analyse the compelling literature that no longer questions the behavioural influence of violence in media. For example, in an article about clinical interventions in media violence and its impact on young people, Eugene V. Beresin, M.D. says, "the research literature is quite compelling that children's exposure to media violence plays an important role in the aetiology (cause) of violent behaviour." Also, Anderson et al., state that "influences that promote aggressive behaviour in young children can contribute to increasingly aggressive and ultimately violent behaviour many years later."

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