Does Media Violence Cause Aggression in Children?

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Does Media Violence Cause Aggression in Children?
Amber Holmberg
Psych 204-01
March 23, 2011

The debate whether violence in the media increases aggression in children has been going on for decades. There have been hundreds of studies, experiments and articles supporting and opposing both sides of the argument. This essay is going to examine an article supporting and an article opposing the debate. The articles include “The Influence of Media Violence in Youth” which supports media violence causing aggression through the use of evidence that includes short and long term effects of media violence, theories as to why media violence causes aggression, factors that influence aggression and ways to counteract the negative effects (Anderson et al., 2003.) The second article “Effect of Television Violence on Aggressiveness” opposes that media violence causes aggression and uses evidence that laboratory settings are not consistent with real life settings, studies come to inconsistent results and there could be third and confounding variables (Freedman, 1984.) “The Influence of Media Violence in Youth” examines the long and short term effects violence in the media has on children, how media violence can produce aggression in children, how media is most influential and who is the most susceptible to aggression, how accessible and widespread media violence is and lastly ways to counteract the negative effects media violence has on people (Anderson, Berkowitz, Donnerstein, Edward, Huesmann, Johnson, James, Linz, Daniel, Malamuth & Wartella, 2003.) There are four general observations made in the article based on all the research done (Anderson et al., 2003.) Firstly there is a positive correlation on the moderate direct effect of media violence on aggressive behaviour. Secondly following more extensive research and taking into account larger samples derived from a greater diversity of methods, samples and media genres the results become more consistent that media violence causes aggression. Thirdly the majority of children who display aggressive behaviour caused by the portrayal of violence in the media show aggressive behaviours in adulthood even without media violence being consumed. Lastly children of non typical high aggressive behaviours show more aggressive behaviours in the long and short term after watching violence in the media (Anderson et al., 2003.) The short term effects include an increase of violence in children, adolescents and adults in both physical and verbal aggression as well as in aggressive thoughts and emotions. The long term effects are derived from very few longitudinal studies, but all have consistent findings. These include repeated exposure to violence in the media in childhood continue throughout adulthood, in adulthood there is an increased probability of physical aggression including physical assaults, spousal abuse and other crimes. Unfortunately in order to discover if there is an increase of aggression such as homicide, aggravated assault and forced rape, which are rare offences, due to violence in the media more longitudinal studies with larger samples are needed (Anderson et al., 2003.)

There are many theories as to why media in the violence causes aggression including physiologically explanations, observation learning and desensitization. In the short term media violence causes an increase in aggression by stimulating aggressive thoughts, increasing physiological arousal and initiating the tendency to imitate others behaviours especially in children. In the long term media violence causes an increase in aggression through the ability to access scripts and schemas portrayed in the media. These scripts and schemas provide encouragement and support towards the beliefs and attitudes that violence portrayed in the media is approved (Anderson et al., 2003.) Lastly the normal reaction to violence in humans is to have a negative emotional response. Desensitization is when one is unresponsive to...
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