Advocacy Letter - Media Violence

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Emily Jane Jose
1417 Inuit Trail, Mississauga
Ontario L5N 7R9
(647-970-2362)

The Honourable Leslie Hugo Von Schober
Member of the Provincial Parliament
Ontario, Canada

Dear MPP,
I am writing to you regarding the need for a specific policy or measure on media violence. Exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, represents a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents. Reported shootings in schools around the world are very alarming and should prompt us to action. Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behaviour, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. American children between 8 and 18 years of age spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes each day using entertainment media (television, commercial or self-recorded video, movies, video games, print, radio, recorded music, computers, and the Internet). Children between 0 and 6 years of age spend an average of almost 2 hours each day using screen media (television, movies, computers) (Rideout, VJ et al, 2003). Televisions are also commonly present in bedrooms, with 19% of infants, 29% of 2- to 3-year-olds, 43% of 4- to 6-year-olds, and 68% of children 8 years and older having a television in their bedrooms. The effects of having a television in a child's bedroom are only beginning to be studied, but the early indications are alarming. Children with a television in their bedroom increase their television-viewing time by approximately 1 hour per day (Roberts, DF et al, 2005). Their risk of obesity increases 31%, and their risk of smoking doubles. In addition, if children have a television in their bedroom, parents are less able to monitor what is seen; parents are less able to have consistent rules for children's media use; children participate in fewer alternative activities such as reading, hobbies, and games; and children perform more poorly in school (Borzekowski, DL et al, 2005). A large proportion of children's media exposure includes acts of violence that are witnessed or “virtually perpetrated” (in the form of video games) by young people. By 18 years of age, the average young person will have viewed an estimated 200000 acts of violence on television alone (Huston, AC et al, 1992).The National Television Violence study evaluated almost 10000 hours of broadcast programming from 1995 through 1997 and revealed that 61% of the programming portrayed interpersonal violence, much of it in an entertaining or glamorized manner. The highest proportion of violence was found in children's shows. Of all animated feature films produced in the United States between 1937 and 1999, 100% portrayed violence, and the amount of violence with intent to injure has increased through the years. In a study of the top-rated PG-13 films of 1999–2000, 90% contained violence, half of it of lethal magnitude. An estimated 12% of 22 million 10- to 14-year-olds saw 40 of the most violent movies in 2003. More than 80% of the violence portrayed in contemporary music videos is perpetrated by attractive protagonists against a disproportionate number of women and blacks. Similarly, teenagers' music has become more violent, especially rap music.  And, as teenagers increasingly use the Internet, they are exposed to violence there as well; a survey of more than 1500 10- to 15-year-olds revealed that 38% had been exposed to violent scenes on the Internet. Video games also are filled with violence. A recent analysis of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings of video games revealed that more than half of all games are rated as containing violence, including more than 90% of games rated as appropriate for children 10 years or older (E10+ and T ratings).(Ybarra ML et al, 2008). Prolonged exposure to such media portrayals results in increased acceptance of violence as an appropriate means of solving problems and achieving one's goals. American media, in...
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