The Effects of Media Violence on Children
Acts of minors killing minors across our nation are sadly becoming trendy and familiar. School shootings are tragic, and yet that is all that is said about them. It seems as though words of action to stop such tragedies are just that. Educated experts study reasons why such crimes take place, but the findings are rarely put into action. The violence and content that the media of the United States displays to children causes hidden, irreversible damage that most deny. What it would take to minimize the spread of school shootings is simple, and the results would surprise American society. The content of movies, music, and other forms of entertainment has a serious effect on children because media inadvertently trains their minds for violence, which needs to be stopped.
Almost two years have passed since the most brutal and televised school shooting occurred in Colorado at Columbine High School. Dozens of threats and killings have occurred since then, and yet no action to prevent such out brakes has been taken. The great majority of people in this country are concerned and responsible adults who want a safe environment for themselves and their children. Even though adults and the majority of society are “concerned,” it seems this problem is expanding and getting out of control (Charry 1998In extremely recent current events of this past week, the spreading trend has come to pass yet again. In the suburb of Santee, California, a 15-year-old high school freshman shot and killed two classmates and wounded 13 others. The shooter, Charles “Andy” Williams, smiled as he reloaded the revolver with only revenge on his mind. Hopefully, this event, among several others, will spark the call for more gun control for the sake of the children and future generations. Because of the right to bear arms, it is possible for anyone old enough to walk to have access to destructive weapons. Andy had access in his own home with plenty of ammunition. The result is a breeder of violence has been released to the rest of America’s children (“Tragedy at Santee” 2001).
“Threats of school violence surfaced in New Mexico in the wake of recent school shootings in other parts of the country” (“Several New Mexico Schools Threatened With Violence,” 2001). Personally, my heart breaks with the news that the schools my friends and family work and learn in are filled with the fear of being killed. The article I read from a New Mexico news station where bomb threats and weapon reports in schools across our state alone proved the ripple effect that televised violence causes. “Elementary students were even affected Wednesday when a man left a message on the answering machine at El Dorado Elementary saying he was going to blow up the school” (“Several New Mexico Schools Threatened With Violence,” 2001). Statements like that create the fear in me, as well as others, that my younger brothers and their generation have to fear simply getting an education that could cost them their lives. “It scares me to death that I’m sending my child to a school… and in light of getting an education, I may end up burying her” (Donohue 1999).
Video games and media violence may not appear to teach children to kill on the surface, but because of the way a mind develops, media is the leading cause. Media violence is being presented as entertainment for children, and the hidden consequence of this fact is the catastrophic result of death. Soldiers have to be trained to kill, and in several ways, this training is similar to the way a child’s mind is trained to kill through media violence. The training methods that the military uses, such as classical conditioning, brutalization, and operant conditioning, are the same methods media train children beginning as young as 18 months. These training aspects are where solutions to preventing and reversing can begin.
You should be aware that kids this age (under 6) are particularly scared of things that change suddenly from the ordinary to the grotesque. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have found that preschoolers are far more disturbed by the transformation into the Incredible Hulk than by the movie Jaws (Levine 1996).
Brutalization involves the taking away of individuality and goes the most unnoticed. As Infants mimic what is on television, mentally and physically, they begin to become unable to separate fantasy and reality. When a child is exposed to bloodshed on television, on video games, and in song lyrics, violence is embraced and to them, soon becomes real. Classical conditioning teaches children to correlate violence with gratification, death related to comedy, and human agony with laughter. I see something wrong with this picture and wonder how this all came to be. Operant conditioning prepares children in a way that even though they may be fearful, they still do exactly what they have been conditioned to do. In all reality, this is precisely how the media prepares a child’s mentality to be a trained assassin right in front of our very eyes (Grossman 2000).
Several precautions exist currently to help with the media violence issue, and there are various more things that can still be done. Parental advisory labels, television rating systems, movie ratings, and video game content labels are fluent and abundant. Unfortunately, several items of restricted material are in the hands of an underage possessor due to the lack of enforcement. I doubt that various people take this issue seriously, and the majority of parents are not involved in a child’s life enough to know the type of content their child is being exposed to. Parents and adults who own weapons that a child at any age can have access to are just begging for some type of disastrous accident to occur. Future generations need more enforcement and protection from media violence.
The content of television is becoming increasingly vulgar and makes me wonder if all of it is even necessary. Murder, rape, sex, profanity, and crimes of all varieties as well as abuse, are displayed on television, in movies, and in music just for the purpose of entertainment. The media would help the violence explosion by editing content in the things children are the main supporters of. The damage that violent and vulgar content executes on children should not be ignored or denied, for one life is too many to lose because of violence.
Media and its content, along with the American people, can help to exterminate and replenish the damage violence has positioned in our nation’s children. Making the growing generations less traumatized should be a goal for all of the United States. Content of entertainment that inadvertently harms the minds of children is training them for violence and needs to be put to a halt.
Charry, Dana and Ellen Charry (1956). The Crisis of Violence. The Christian Century Journal. 115, 20.
Donohue, Elizabeth, Vincent Schiraldi, and Jason Zindenberg. (1978) School house hype: kids real risks. The Education Digest. 64, 6.
Gardels, Nathan. (2007) Does rock wreck families New Perspectives Quarterly. 15, 3. Grossman, Dave. (1995) Teaching Kids To Kill. National Forum: Phi Kappa Phi Journal. 80, 4 Kaminer, Wendy. (1978) Toxic Media. American Prospect. 11, 22
Levine, Madeline.(2008) Handling the ‘boo tube’. Diss. New York, N.Y. Parents. 71.
Lynch, Patrick G. (2001) A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: what we know about the role of the media in state politics. Perspectives on Political Science. 29, 2.
Napier, Kristine M.(1991) Antidotes to pop culture poison. Policy Review Journal 86. Shapiro, Joseph P (1979) Teenage Wasteland. U.S. News and World Reports 119
Several New Mexico Schools Threatened With Violence. Editorial. Eyewitness News Channel 4. 8 Mar. 2001.
“Tragedy at Santee.” House Editorial. The Washington Times. 7 Mar. 2001.
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Retrieve and read the following article, “Understanding Causality in the Effects of Media Violence,” from the Excelsior Library and write a response to the questions below in 250 words.
What did you read in the article that you can connect to your life or work?
What do you think about the conclusions drawn here? Do you agree or disagree, and why?
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