Influence of Media on the Youth

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VOL. 4, NO. 3, DECEMBER 2003
Copyright © 2003 American Psychological Society
Summary—Research on violent television and films, video
games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior
in both immediate and long-term contexts. The effects
appear larger for milder than for more severe forms of aggression, but the effects on severe forms of violence are also substantial (

.13 to .32) when compared with effects of other
violence risk factors or medical effects deemed important by the medical community (e.g., effect of aspirin on heart attacks). The research base is large; diverse in methods, samples, and media genres; and consistent in overall findings. The evidence is clearest within the most extensively researched domain, television and film violence. The growing body of video-game research

yields essentially the same conclusions.
Short-term exposure increases the likelihood of physically
and verbally aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, and
aggressive emotions. Recent large-scale longitudinal studies provide converging evidence linking frequent exposure to violent media in childhood with aggression later in life, including
physical assaults and spouse abuse. Because extremely
violent criminal behaviors (e.g., forcible rape, aggravated assault, homicide) are rare, new longitudinal studies with
larger samples are needed to estimate accurately how much
habitual childhood exposure to media violence increases the
risk for extreme violence.
Well-supported theory delineates why and when exposure
to media violence increases aggression and violence. Media
violence produces short-term increases by priming existing
aggressive scripts and cognitions, increasing physiological
arousal, and triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors. Media violence produces long-term effects
via several types of learning...
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