Media Violence and Juveniles
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Violence in media abounds in myriad ways. This emanates from the fact that different types of media exist; thus, different ways that they avail violence to the consumers. The most notable media that promote violence according to Croteau & Hoynes (2003) include television, video games, movies, Rock n Roll music, novels and even plays. Media violence is usually measured in relation to the violence in the real world and, this has been supported by various scholars. However, conflicting arguments abound as to whether violence in the media is what promotes violence in the real world and to juveniles as a whole. Some quarters believe that the media does not contribute to juvenile violence as the violence in the real world is what is reflected on the media. On the other hand, proponents consider the media as playing a critical role in the increase of violent behavior in juveniles. They advance four reasons in order to support their claims. Firstly, proponents indicate that violence in the media contributes to fierce behavior among juveniles because children’s brain is at a tender age that cannot clearly distinguish the reality and fantasy. Proponents also indicate that television viewing has a great impact on the arousal levels of children, they store the scripts from movies in their memories and practice them later and lastly, most learning in children emanates from what they have observed taking place.
This essay explores the different types of media and how they depict violence, and how these impulsive trends contribute to violent behavior in juveniles.
Firstly, it is essential to explore the various forms of media and how they avail violence to children. Nowadays, many families in the United States and around the world have access to cable television. Thus, this means that children have access to movies of their choice as well; therefore, they spend most of their time at home when adults are away for work. Research by Gentile (2003) confirms that many children enjoy watching horror movies, which they are not allowed to. This is primarily blamed on parents who facilitate their children to watch movies that are R-rated. Besides movies, Croteau & Hoynes (2003) indicate that video games of various forms also perpetuate violent behavior in juveniles. Video games are usually purchased over the counter while others come on board in phones. Siegel (2011) indicates that, since children spent most of their time playing such video games, what they experience becomes part of them as it sticks in their brains and they tend to practice what they are accustomed to in their daily routines. Another form of media that promotes violence is Rock n Roll music. Particularly, the metal form of Rock n Roll is considered to promote violence, which originates from the violent nature of the beats in the music. Lastly, novels and plays also abound as media that promote violent behavior amongst children. It should be noted that plays and novels also have age restrictions or limits. However, some parents allow their children to read novels that are not meant for their age group. Additionally, some parents also attend some plays that depict violence in the company of their children (Potter, 2003). These abound the various ways through which juveniles are exposed to violence from the media.
How Violence in Media Contributes to Violent Behavior in Juveniles
Amazing facts abound regarding violent behavior in juveniles. Research by Potter (2003) asserts that there has been a notable increase in violent behavior in juveniles since the discovery of the television. Gentile (2003) opines that, violence was at an all time low in the early 19th century. However, the trend started to change since the discovery of television in 1960s. Thus, the media can be blamed for the increasing of violent crimes in juveniles from that period because it seemed to influence most of the youth’s at that time.
From a psychological view, violence in media contributes to fierce behavior in juveniles as children are usually still to young to judge the fantasy and reality. Thus, the use of monsters and other stunts in movies abounds as a challenge to children who end up considering these monsters and the stunts they see as been epic, which motivates them to try it either on their friends or other members of the society. This form of violence should be blamed on the media because if the children did not have access to media that depict violence, they could not try to practice it in the real world.
Another factor that indicates fierce behavior in juveniles emanates from violence in media is the fact that children learn from what they observe. Psychological research on this matter by Croteau & Hoynes (2003) affirms that children between the age of six and fourteen learn a great deal from what goes on around their surrounding. Thus, it is common knowledge that some parents are too busy that they fail to find time to spend with their children. In order to escape from the guilt of not spending time with their children, they opt to buy them games and lure them with videos and other forms of media that will distract their attention. What these parents fail to note is that these forms of media play a critical role in shaping their children’s behavior. Notably, some cartoons shown on television also perpetuate violent behavior and what parents fail to note is that it is critical for some movies or video games to be played under an adult’s supervision. Supervision is vital as it helps in clarifying the children what is taking place and it facilitates them to note the difference between reality and fantasy. Thus, when children play or encounter violence in media, they learn from it and copy what takes place in these media. Consequently, it shapes their behavior, which leads to juvenile delinquency (Gentile, 2003).
Another way that media violence contributes to violent behavior in juveniles is through the provision of aggressive scripts. Potter (2003) asserts that the continuous exposure to aggressive scripts leads to a change of attitude, which emanates from the fact that children have high retention rate of information. This theory also has some psychological connection, which derives from the fact that the brain has a higher rate of retaining information when one is still a child. Thus, aggressive scripts can be blamed for the increase in violence in juveniles because children subscribe a lot to peer groups whom might want to simulate what they watch in movies. The simulation of the aggressive scripts is what leads to juvenile delinquency as the children end up doing what they consider as cool while at the same time landing themselves in trouble with the law or society.
Also, violence in mass media is indicated to be acceptable. This especially applies to heroes in movies, televisions and video games who fight fora certain cause. This usually send distorted message to children who also want to be heroes. Thus, children will engage in violent behavior in order to be considered as heroes. According to Siegel (2011), this is again blamed on parents and the mass media. This is because parents do not spend time with their children and educate them regarding the true definition of heroism and how they can achieve that status in society. Thus, when children learn from the mass media, they end up with a misconstrued definition of heroism and tend to copy what they see in movies and how heroes are allowed to be violent. However, it should also be noted that environmental factors also contribute significantly to violent behavior in juveniles. This has a connection with the mass media and leads to the fact that regions or areas that experience a lot of violence usually have a lot of cruelty shown in the mass media. Thus, children develop while accustomed to violence, which influences their behavior (Gentile, 2003).
In conclusion, media violence abounds in myriad ways. Televisions, video games, movies, novels and plays contribute to violence in juveniles. Many factors abound as an indication of media violence promoting violence in juveniles. These include the fact that children tend to learn from what they observe. This emanates from a psychological theory that indicates children learn best from their surrounding and people that take care of them. Secondly, media violence contributes to violent behavior in juveniles through the failure of children to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Children have a different interpretation of scenes from movies; thus, adults are encouraged to supervise their children when they are playing video games or watching movies as they influence their brains a great deal. The aspect of heroism from the media also contributes to the violent behavior in juveniles. Many media tend to depict the notion that heroes are allowed to be violent. This mainly depicts in many video games, movies and television shows where the hero takes care of villains through violence. This is a misconstrued reality because in the real world, there are mechanisms and laws set that indicate how criminals should be apprehended. Violence prone areas also contribute to fierce behavior in juveniles as children always see what is taking place in television; thus, their violent behavior.
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