Media Violence

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"Children are among the greatest of imitators…"

The debate over media violence has eluded definitive answers for more then three decades. At first glance, the debate is dominated by one question. Whether or not media violence causes real life violence and whether or not it has a negative effect of the modern day Canadian family. Closer examination reveals a political battle. On one hand, there are those who blame media violence for societal violence and want to censor violent content to protect our children. On the other hand, there are those who see regulation as a slippery slope to censorship or a smoke screen hiding the basic causes of violence in society.

One thing is certain: the issue of media violence is not going away. Increasingly, the debate is focusing on the "culture" of violence, and on the normalization of aggression and the lack of empathy in our society.

Study after study has shown that viewing encourages aggression and desensitization in children. The debate is over. Media violence causes violence among those who are exposed to it. This essay describes how the depiction of violence is evolving in a number of media formats. It analyzes how, and why, violence is used by entertainment and information industries. It offers an overview of research findings, an outline of government responses to the issue and a look at some of the key arguments in the debate. It also explores the role of media education can play in helping young people put media violence into perspective.

So lets start with this basic argument; violent media is a contributing factor to youth violence in our society. It is not the only factor. But this paper is after all about the media and it is not within our scope or purpose to explore in depth the other reasons kids resort to violence. We are going to talk about violence in the media and what we have learned about its effect on our Canadian children. There have been many studies and a survey showing that media violence does have an impact on children and in effect alters the state of the Modern Day Canadian family.

What We Know

The debate is over. Forty years of research conclude that repeated exposure to high levels of media violence teaches children and adolescence to settle there differences with violence. Locked in professional journals are thousands of articles documenting the negative effect of media particularly media violence on our nation's youth. Children who are heavy viewer of television are more aggressive and more pessimistic, weigh more are less imaginative less empathic and less capable then there lighter viewing counter parts (Levine, 1996). Canada has become one of the most violent nations in the industrialized world. The roots of violence in our society are complex. Our society is well informed about the damages caused by poverty, child abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse, but we must also consider the role played by the images our children see on the small screen during the three and a half hours of daily viewing. There is major gap that exists between research findings and what the public knows about the harmful effects of media violence on children. Media Violence has become a powerful source of behaviours, attitudes and values. In many homes it threatens the traditional trio of socialization- family, school and church. Violence by teenagers, and even preteens, exploded into public awareness recently as a result of shootings in the United States. As shocking as they are, such incidents are just the tip of an iceberg that includes the murders of about 3,500 youths between 15 and 19 years old every year (Dyson, 1999). More than 150,000 arrests of adolescents for violent crimes occur each year (Dyson, 1999). Hundreds of studies have linked exposure to media violence to violent real-life behavior in adolescents. The Effects of Television on Children

Research has given us some important information on how children of different ages respond to...
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