While negative effects of TV violence have been repeatedly studied by conservative groups, there are still some sources that cite positive effects of TV violence. These sources also question the conclusiveness of studies that claim to link childhood aggression to violent TV images. There are three main points to explore regarding the effects of TV violence.
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1. The Need for Emotional Release
New Scientist magazine stated in 2007 that the average child in the United States will witness 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on TV before entering elementary school.
Other sources state that simulated violence has no deleterious effect on children, or perhaps that there are some "good effects" of TV violence. Richard Rhodes, author of "The Media-Violence Myth" published in Rolling Stone magazine (November 23, 2000), states "Mock violence can and does satisfy the considerable need to experience strong emotion that people, including children, build up from hour to hour and day to day."
2. Anti-TV Violence Statistics Are Unconvincing
Based on the research of Rhodes as well as Jib Fowles ("The Case for Television Violence," 1999) and other cited sources, the Free Expression Policy Project website states that results from nearly 300 laboratory experiments, field studies, and other studies were "inconsistent" as regards TV violence leading to childhood aggression. Not only was the laboratory unable to prove TV violence caused aggression, but it was noted that some innocent TV fare such as "Sesame Street" and "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" provoked more aggressive behaviour in certain youths.
The same website quoted research from Jeffrey Goldstein ("Why We Watch: The Attractions of Violent Entertainment," 1998) and Henry Jenkins ("Lessons From Littleton: What Congress Doesn't Want to Hear About Youth and Media," Harper's, August 1999) which stated that "violent images and ideas come in too many different styles and contexts for researchers to be able to make meaningful generalisation about effects."
3. Anti-Hero Identification and Vicarious Hunger
Some experts go further and suggest TV violence and other forms of simulated aggression can be beneficial under some circumstances. Gerard Jones ("Violent Media is Good for Kids," 2000) said that "Identification with a rebellious, even destructive, hero helps children learn to push back against a modern culture that cultivates fear and teaches dependency."
Psychologist Melanie Moore concurred that viewing TV violence is a part of growing up for most children. "Fear, greed, power-hunger, rage," she wrote, "are aspects of ourselves that we try not to experience in our lives but often want, even need, to experience vicariously through stories of others."
One indisputable fact about TV violence is that it brings in unusually high Nielsen ratings. TV shows such as "CSI" that depict graphic violence are among the top-rated TV shows of the week, sometimes pulling in as many as 31 million viewers.
Richard Rhodes in "The Media-Violence Myth" points out that there is an "ongoing turf war" between the entertainment industry and traditional institutions, which is responsible for the widespread criticism of TV violence.
In order to be fair on this issue and not take sides in such a debate, you would have to compare TV violence with children's literature, which has oftentimes featured extreme acts of violence in order to scare children. Any sort of violence for the sake of entertainment, for better or worse, has been a part of human culture for thousands of years.
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