Does Mass Media Play a Role Causing our Children to be Aggressive and Violent?
By: Sze Lam (Grace)
For: Prof. Leslie Ehrlich
Date: Nov. 17, 2011
In our society today, mass media plays a big part in our everyday lives and we are bombarded by it constantly. Concentrating on the area of mass media violence and examining the various mediums such as television, movies, and the video game industry. Does the mass media have a lasting effects on causing violence in our children and as well if it plays an influence in causing them to be violent as adults. I will be describing the different theories used by the experts in explaining that the mass media does cause children to be violent. I will present my point of view with my own experiences and observations because I believe it does play a part.
What is Mass Media?
Mass media is any medium designed to communicate messages to a mass audience (Webber & Ravelli, 2010). The main devices used in our society today are the television, satellite radio, Internet, cell phones, and text messaging. Our technology has advanced over the years and mass media today is far more effective in spreading its message globally then ever. Our generations in society today such as the gen-x and gen-y are far too reliant on these devices. I believe that technology has made our daily lives more efficient but at what cost, it has so many harmful ramifications when it is used in a non-constructive way. One incidence that proves how dangerous the mass media can be is the Columbine High School massacre. It was the fourth deadliest school massacre in the United States. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on April 20th, 1999, went to their school and went on a shooting rampage. Killing 12 students, one teacher, and injuring many others and then committed suicide later on. Based on analysis and research it is believed that their actions are linked to the desensitization theory, due to their constant exposure to violent images and fantasy role- playing in video games. They were both obsessed with the video games ‘Doom’ and ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ before the time of the shooting occurred. According to psychiatrist, Jerald Block, by them playing these games was an output for their excess anger and aggressiveness, but then became unleashed into the real world when their computer use became restricted. As well, television played a part in their violent ways, they were fans of the movie ‘Natural Born Killers and it showed evidence of it in their home videos and journals because the films acronym NBK was used as a code. Some critics disagree and says there is no link between the two, but FBI investigators and psychiatrists concluded that Harris was a clinical psychopath, and Klebold was depressive (Wikipedia, 2010). I have to disagree and believe that the mass media does play an important role in causing violent events like this to occur. There maybe many compounding factors involved causing people to be violent but this incident shows us it can happen. Considering all the research conducted and evidence gathered, they all have similar results which points to media violence is the cause. It is found that Harris and Klebold lacked empathy, which is one characteristic found in studies based on the effects of violent video games has on our children in society (J.B. Funk et. al, 2004).
Mass Media Play a Huge Role in our Society
How does mass media play such a huge role in our society? Here are some statistics, according to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian spends 22.7 hours in front of the television every week. Health Canada projects television viewing time is 2.5 hours per day at the age of 5 and average of 4 hours per day by age 12. New numbers do show that teens and children age 2 to 11 viewing hours have decreased from 20.3 and 22 hours, for teens and children respectively, in 1986, to 17.1 and 17.7 hours in 1994. To the...
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