Teenagers' violence is one of the biggest problems facing our society in the new millennium. There are many reasons behind and many people blame that it is mostly due to the overload of violent mass media. Many researches have been done on this topic trying to answer this question. Contributing factors to the problem include violent television programs, movies, comics and online video games [Chilton: 1999]. A recent research done by four national American health organizations namely American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has also already concluded that there exist a direct link between violence in media and violence on teenagers (Vermaakgeweld lei tot meer aggressie: 2000). In this paper, the emphasis will fall on violent online games, as a form of electronic mass media, and the influence on teenagers.
Definition of Media Violence
It is hard to measure and define media violence, though many researches had been done on this. There exist variations between people, as what one person considers violent content, another may not. In addition, how one is affected by violent content will also vary from different people. Some experts who track violence in television programming, such as George Gerbner of Temple University, define violence as the act (or threat) of injuring or killing someone, independent of the method used or the surrounding context (Research on the Effects of Media Violence: No Date). Media violence is then defined as distributing ideas about any action which intrudes painfully or harmfully into the physical, psychological or social wellbeing of people or groups though the means of media. Online games, as a form of electronic mass media, it is postulated that these games invite players to engage viscerally with the action, to disengage the critical faculties and to take pleasure in the substitute experiences of unjustified violence. In spite of that violence depicted in film, television and computer games is not necessarily the same as violence in real life, it may reach large numbers of people, whereas real violence may not (Defining media violence: No Date).
Research done on Online Games
Brent de Waal, a student at the Simon-Fraser University Media Laboratory, studied the physiological effect of video games on the human. De Waal sat a group of ten sixteen year olds in front of several violent video games and measured their physiological responses. He monitored galvanic skin response that is the amount of electrical activity on the skin, and also players' heart rates. De Waal found galvanic skin responses and heart rates in the subjects rose differently, depending on the content of the game. Accordingly there was a difference between whether the game they were playing was violent or nonviolent in terms of their amount of activation [Clements: 1995].
According to another research there are three factors that are strong predictors of whether young people will be influenced by media violence [Tepperman: No Date]:
1. Identifying with one of the characters. The response will depend on which character the player identifies with. It can postulate that since aggressors in the media are usually male and females are usually victims, boys will be more likely to respond with aggression and girls with fear. Studies indicate that after playing violent video games boys ten to feel satisfied but on the other hand girls feel less comfortable and are less likely to play again.
2. Interpreting what they see as realistic and relevant to their own lives. What is suggested with this statement is that media violence is more likely to have a strong effect on teenagers who are exposed to violence in their lives. Furthermore, media violence will also have a strong effect on young teenagers. The reason being that they lack the real life experiences to judge whether something they see on...
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Defining media violence
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