Combating the Effects Media Violence on Children
“You better run for your life if you can, little girl, hide your head in the sand little girl, catch you with another man, that’s the end’a little girl. I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man…” Most of us would be shocked by these words, but these are actually the lyrics for Run for Your Life by the Beatles. Other songs like Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks (All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run faster than my bullet) and Offspring’s Beheaded (Chop off her head, she falls to the floor) have similarly violent lyrics. So the question arises “Does such media violence really have an effect on society, especially upon the youth?” The effects of media violence have been a hotly debated topic over the past several years, and such events as the shootings at Columbine, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado, have left many with the opinion that media violence is to blame for the increased violence we see among our youth. Much research has been and continues to be done on the effects of media violence on youth, with most experts agreeing that media violence does indeed play a role in the rise we see in underage, violent crimes. In order to curb these obviously negative effects, both the media and parents need to actively strive to protect children from these harmful influences. First, a realistic definition of media violence needs to be established. Media violence encompasses so much more than violence presented in a television program. The term media refers to all substantive forms of communication such as radio, music, music videos, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Today, all of these forms of media contain varying degrees of violent content. In fact, according to Media Violence (2001) today’s mass media programming contains an alarming percentage of violent content. One study reported in Pediatrics analyzing music videos found that “Violent videos showed a mean of six acts of violence per 2-3 minute long segment – a total of 462 shootings, stabbings, punchings, and kickings in the 76 videos analyzed.” Much of the violence in music is “largely directed against women and blacks,” (Media Violence, 2001). This statement in the article Media Violence (2001) is also supported by the above study in Pediatrics (Rich et al., 1998) which revealed that “[blacks] were victims in 41 percent of music video violence”, and “White women comprised the largest group of music video victims.” As would be suspected, media violence through music is not the only or even the worst source of media violence. “Almost 90 percent of movies contain violent content” (Bleakly et al., 2012). Violent incidents in movies have increased in number of incidents per movie as well as in intensity. Not only are the number of violent occurrences and the nature of the crimes escalating per movie, but also the reason behind the violence is changing. Crime is characterized as a form of comedic element and is portrayed as “justifiable.” Such portrayals of violence can be seen in movies such as Pulp Fiction in which “the audience lost touch with the seriousness of the crimes,” and when interviewed in the exit polls “felt that the villains were ‘somewhat justified’ in their murderous acts” (Rolfe, 1997). Television is also saturated with violence. Again, according to one study (the National Television Violence Study) evaluating over 10,000 hours of broadcasting, 61 percent of programming contained interpersonal violence. Sadly, much of this violence was portrayed in an “entertaining or glamorized manner.” The same violent trends can be seen in news broadcasts each day. These news reports often emphasize and amplify violent news stories.(Halloran, 1978) This disproportionate reporting of negative events makes the world seem as though violent events and actions are much more common than they actually are. Many ask “How does all of this...
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