Media Violence And Its Effects On Children

Media Violence And Its Effects On Children Introduction Communications technology is expanding through the entire global community (Dyson 2). Children everywhere are being born into a world of images and messages, which are largely separated from their home, school and spiritual lives (Dyson 2). In society today storytellers are seldom parents, grandparents, teachers or the clergy; instead they are the handful of distant forces with something to sell (Dyson 2). What is unique about the media industry is that in global and corporate domination they have become part of our culture as well as our identity (Dyson 3). Social scientists and child advocates have been exploring the effects of media for decades, yet it is only recently that the concern has generated a public debate (Bok 3). Historical Disagreements concerning the effect of violence revealed in works of art and entertainment have resonated over the centuries (Bok 41).

We must ask ourselves whether or not our versions of entertainment exhibits anymore violence then past forms of recreation, for example gladiatorial games or public hangings (Bok 23). Plato viewed human life as a pilgrimage from the appearance to reality (Bok 41). He also believed that a piece of art had to be strictly censored when they depicted any form of evil and cruelty (Bok 41). When an artist imitated what was bad, they add to the sum of badness in the world (Bok 41). Both Plato and Aristotle pointed out, we as humans do find delight in representations of objects and emotions that would consider different from real life; most of us agree with Aristotle in refusing to believe that they are corrupt (Bok 41).

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The Romans remain the prototype for violent entertainment at its most extreme (Bok 17). It was a culture, which sanctioned tradition, foreign conquest was a domestic culture, and weapons were easily available (Bok 17). The treatment of newborns and slaves within the home extended to crucifixions and other brutal punishments (Bok 17). Though on a whole the Romans did not criticize their choice of entertainment, one philosopher, Seneca, did. To exhibit the slaughter of eighteen elephants in the Circus, pitting criminals against them in a mimic battle [and] thought it a notable kind of spectacle to kill human beings after a new fashion.

Do they fight to the death? That is not enough! Are they torn to pieces? That is not Enough! Let them be crushed by animals of monstrous Bulk! (Bok 18) Such entertainment was so popular that most military encampments had their own amphitheaters, and hundreds of others were built for the public around the Empire (Bok 19). No people before or after were so centred around displays of mortal combat as did the Romans (Bok 15). The only difference between today’s society and that of the one during the last two centuries B.C., other than the degree of violence, is the openness of debates (Bok 20). Our institutions allow for open discussion and debate that the Romans were unable to have (Bok 20). People during all periods of time have derived some sort of sensual, aesthetic and even at time erotic thrills from viewing violent act (Bok 28). It would be unfair to conclude that in today’s society such spectators and consumers of media are guided by no other motive (Bok 28).

Extreme Acts in Recent History Though there has always been crime and violence never has there been such extreme acts, as the few which have been committed in the recent years. One very well known instance was the brutal death of James Bulger a British toddler. The movie Child’s Play 3 was under debate when two ten-year old boys tormented and murdered the child (Bok 38). The Film was then criticized when Suzanne Capper was kidnapped, tortured and set on fire as the group of young acquaintances chanted: I’m Chucky. Wanna play? (Bok 38).

Another even more recent and closer incident was the Columbine massacre. There is a striking similarity between the US incident and the actions which were occurring in Kosovo at the time (Rosenblatt 1999). A tribe of haters is Serbia and an ad hoc tribe of haters in Colorado (Rosenblatt 1999). In both of these cases the individuals discover self-worth by hating an enemy (Rosenblatt 1999). Another similarity is the built up anger for such a long period of time and then a final explosion in murderous fury (Rosenblatt 1999). After such an event there is always an increase in certain emotions within the community.

For example fewer teens feel safe in schools today (33%) than shortly after the Columbine killings (42%) (Morse 2000). Nearly one third of all teens say they have witnessed a violent act at school (Morse 2000). Television We as Canadian live in a nation where almost all households have at least one television set (Ledingham 1993). Not only is the amount of television being viewed an issue but the content and the lack of parental overview also play an extreme role (Dyson 11). After finishing grade 12 the average child will have spent between 3,000 to 4,000 hours watching broadcast television alone than in the classroom (Dyson 11). What is even more astonishing that it is estimated that they will have witnessed 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence by the time they leave elementary school (Dyson 11).

As technology improves and the amount of violent entertainment increases, images becoming more graphic and results in a more realistic portray of violence (Bok 25). Television viewing affects children of different ages in different ways (Ledingham 1993). While a children my spend many hours in front of a television set at an early age the programming has little effect (Ledingham 1993). At the age of two a child will imitate the actions of the live model, example a parent more than a model on television (Ledingham 1993). However by the age of three the child will begin to imitate the t.v. characters (Ledingham 1993). The attitudes toward television drastically change over a child’s life (Ledingham 1993).

When researching the effects of television various points need to be taken into consideration, certain issues effect people in different ways, for example pornography (Dyson 3). However, most parents do not realize that whether aggression is presented in a realistic way or in a cartoon, it makes no difference to a child who has a difficult time differentiating between the two (Ledingham 1993). Exposure to violence is not believed to increase aggression, but being aggressive increases preference for violent television (Ledingham 1993). Children observe what is considered novel aggressive behavior and learn vicariously that aggressive acts are rewarded (Ledingham 1993). The more the child can relate to the characters in the program the more likely they will be to emulate the characters actions (Ledingham 1993). Not only do the actions of a child reflect the programs viewed but watching a violent program causes desensitization (Ledingham 1993).

There is a widespread agreement that television habits can be harmful (Bok 54). Psychologically speaking the effects can be devastating. A 1 …


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