Research Paper On Does Violence In The Media Contribute To Violent Behavior In Children?
Education of children and adolescents is one of the main challenges of modern society. Education is a purposeful development of the growing human being as a unique individuality, ensuring the growth and improvement of the moral and creative abilities. Child-rearing is basically influenced by family and the environment in which a child appears to be, also the school, and the media. All these factors contribute to the development and improvement of the moral and creative abilities of the younger generation. And the special place among these factors that influence on the formation of the value system of children and adolescents occupies the media.
Recently, violence and aggressiveness of the younger generation is increasingly becoming the subject of different psychological researches. And from the news, we can constantly see quite creepy stories from the life of schoolchildren that are usually involved in beatings, humiliation, abuse of animals, and other forms of violent behavior. However, some researchers believe, that even preschool children often behave unreasonably aggressive. Someone of the researchers believe that violence among children and their overall aggressiveness has recently increased significantly, but some of them think that this issue was at all times, that the people referred to the problem easier. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. The recent decades, can be characterized by some new factors that contribute to the general neuroticism of children and their violent aggressive behaviors.(Baron&Richardson 1994)
Today it is not a secret that the media, that is represented by television, radio, cinema, and press, have a huge impact force. For a child, they can be dangerous, because an average child has no ability to criticize the fact that he is shown. External impressions fall on children uncontrollably and without any interferences. Children see the scenes where violence is the main element, though it is not only shown, but also glorified.
That is why it is so important to select the TV programs carefully, when we are speaking about children. They simply can not be left alone in front of TV screens, because you can’t predict what TV channel will show next, there are episodes, that may cause frightening and confusion. And this is why the topic of my research paper is so important and valuable.
In the twentieth century the sources of media occupied a special position in the life of every citizen, including children. Among the long-established sources of media, that are newspapers and radio, TV and Internet became two major sources of media. TV and Internet changed the lives of people in the way that today we can not imagine our lives without their existence. Both traditional and new sources of information promote certain values which are able to form the appropriate settings. In this connection, it should be noted that the media can generate both positive and negative effects on young people. Thus, the media has two sides of influence, just as the two sides of the coin.
In regard to the positive sides of media it has to be mentioned, that the media keeps abreast of all of the events, the media raises a common culture, including political culture of the population; serves for mutual informing of the authorities and of the population; relieves social tensions.
But the negative sides, that are the major focus of my research, appear to be terrifying, and sometimes are able to cause very negative consequences. Media is a big source of vulgar information. In modern series, movies, and even in cartoons there are a lot of episodes that are full of violence. Adult subculture displaces children's subculture. The number and quality of programs for adolescents decreases.
In order to answer the question, if violence in the media contribute to violent behavior in children, it is necessary to understand what violence in regard to psychology is. Barbara Krahe in her work «The Social Psychology of Aggression» notes that in the academic field there is no unity in finding appropriate definition of the term «violence» and the term «aggression.» (Krahe 2001)
Robert Baron and Daniel Richardson propose to use the terms violence and aggression to describe any kind of behavior that is aimed at harming or insulting other living beings who seek to avoid such-treatment.(Baron&Richardson 1994)
Some of the scientists believe that the aggressiveness of man and his propensity for aggressive behavior can be significantly determined by the peculiarities of his individual development. The emergence of aggressive behavior can be result of many different factors, including age, individual characteristics, external physical and social conditions. For example, the reasons of the aggression and tendency to violence may be found in external circumstances, such as noise, heat, overcrowding, environmental issues, weather conditions, and so on. But the decisive role in the formation of aggressive behavior of the person, according to most researchers of this issue plays a direct social environment of the individual, the social conditions of human development.(Baron&Richardson 1994)
However, one of the most debated issues is the influence of media on aggressive and violent behavior of the individual. In public discussions, manifestations of aggression and violence among youth is commonly referred to media, as one of the factors that is clearly increasing level of violent behavior of young people.
On various TV channels and in various television shows there is a large number of aggressive episodes, that are often about to have extremely violent nature, easily available for young viewers. The same can be said about the home video, movies, comic books and computer games, which are very popular among the youth. In addition, regularly reported alarming data about the average number of hours spent by children and adolescents per week surfing the Internet, and watching TV. These observations lead to the conclusion that the broadcasting of violence in the media leads to an overall increase of aggressive behavior in society, but the researches show that children are getting affected much more seriously than grownups.(Baron&Richardson 1994)
The scientists believe that the impact of media images on aggressiveness of children can be manifested in two ways. Specifically, when children demonstrate the behavior, which is a direct imitation of the observed behavior. And in a more general form, observation of a particular type of aggression and violence leads to an increased probability of violent reactions, that are implemented in life taking one of the different shapes.
The results of direct imitation or copy of violent behavior by children, quite regularly appear in the crime reports. Barbara Krahe emphasizes that both intentional and accidental murders were the result of children copying scenes observed by them on the TV screen.(Krahe 2001)
F. Rice emphasizes that violence in the media makes children to form the aggressive behavior of two types: an imitation of what they saw or acceptance of such behavior as the one that is positively perceived by society. In addition, it was found that there are some individual differences in susceptibility to the image of violence in the media, especially when we are talking about children, affected by the following factors: gender characteristics, cognitive maturity and family socialization. Boys are usually affected more than girls, when violence is shown; more developed in terms of the cognitive effects among children are exposed to a lesser extent; children who watched and experienced the violence in the family, are more susceptible to the violence that is represented in the media, reinforcing aggressive behavior.(Rice 1975)
Barbara Krahe notes that at the age of 8-12 years occurs sensitive period special commitment to the effects of television images of violence. After this period, similar scenes apparently no longer exert an additional aggregate influence. It is argued that the perception of television violence during this sensitive period effects on the formation of aggressive scenarios, as children include media portrayal of violence in cognitive repertoires, guiding their aggressive behavior. As soon as the development of the script, it becomes secured by real implementation and repetition and does not necessarily require for any additional incoming media information to be stored. (Krahe 2001)
Observations of portrayed in the media scenes of violence can weaken the existing audience "bans" on aggressive behavior, as aggression seems like an ordinary common feature of social interactions. Image of aggressive behavior is widely spread in the media, moreover it is the minority of cases, when it is shown that violence causes pain to the victim and causes harm, as a result it undermines the perception of violence as anti-social and harmful acts. (Krahe 2001)
It is very usually stressed that the United States mass media, highlighting the issue of violence, the majority of media show the brutality with which the participants of violent acts treated each other. There are a lot of situations revealed, that are connected to the facts when mass media abuse their right for freedom of speech: by savoring some of the brutal details of criminal violence; by the description of technology of the murder; by fanning feelings of fear, helplessness; cynical, blasphemous writing style. It was established, that the young viewer who has repeatedly observed portrayed in the media scenes of violence, is inclined to form addictive trigger defense mechanisms of the psyche, develop reactions to avoid such information, forgetting this information by the mechanism of repression. As a result of these psychological mechanisms at both the individual and personal, and socio-psychological levels occurs desensitization to brutality and violence, as well as the adoption of new forms of aggressive violent behavior with the mechanism of social learning. (Krahe 2001)
In addition to the transfer of ideas about the essence of the world, TV can teach impressionable young people in how to act in this threatening environment. This conclusion were made in 1969 by the US National Commission to investigate the causes and prevention of violence. As noted by experts of the Commission, the main characters of television films often succeed when attacking someone, rather than when not attacking. Violence is often depicted as one of the acceptable means to achieve the desired goals. And some children learn this lesson by heart.(Huesmann&Eron 1986)
This conclusion by the Commission on violence is confirmed by numerous and detailed studies. Leonard Eron and Rowell Huesmann made a research that appears to be one of the best evidences of long-term effects of massive impact of violence shown on television. The scientists made a great project, when they gathered information about daily behavior of third-graders living in the District of Columbia, New York, interviewing the children themselves and also their parents. Then began the constant monitoring of children's behavior, which lasted until they become adults. The main indicator of the usual aggressiveness of each test was the opinion about him or her by the classmates. In the context of the topic, it is especially important that researchers have found out, how children like to watch TV programs with scenes of violence, the results have shown that children easily become addicted to the content that includes any scenes of violence.(Huesmann&Eron 1986)
Eron and Huesmann made a lot of important researches regarding the issue of how media contributes to violent behavior in children, and as a result were able to prove, with some exceptions, the hypothesis, that In the United States, Poland, Finland, as well as in Israel the children living in urban areas, and having early habits associated with watching TV shows, predicted aggressive behavior, even when the original aggression was statistically controlled.(Huesmann&Eron 1986)
Some scientists distinguish two main methods to mitigate the adverse effects of media violence, which can be and in limited volume has already been used to counteract the pernicious influence of media violence. These two methods are critical vision and media initiatives. The critical vision assumes that the audience has learned to understand exactly how the violence is portrayed in the mass media. Important skill here is to have the ability to distinguish the image of the real and fictional, to determine the unrealistic violence in which the victim receives no pain, and no damage too, the development of alternative methods of resolution to the violent methods. As role models, showing an example of a critical attitude towards depicted in the media violence may be a joint viewing of programs adults and children.(Huesmann&Eron 1986)
A second approach that is called to reduce the negative impact of the media regards media industry itself. It seems necessary to attract media attention to the social and psychological effects of violence broadcast and aggressive behavior in a newspaper criminal chronicle, as well as to organize a series of publications devoted to criminological and criminal victimological prevention of domestic violence.(Huesmann&Eron 1986)
Media initiatives can take the form of their own will to take responsibility for the Voluntary Control of violence portrayed on the screen, which means to make a change in the relevant programs and test programs on the content of the scenes of violence. Furthermore, it can be made a special media production, that will have to inform the audience about the negative impact of certain types of violence.(Smith 1989)
Television, cartoons, comics, and Internet can have a big impact on the child, but its main landmark is still family relations. Role models whose influence is spread far beyond childhood are parents. If parents own aggression, which has other reasons to be turning against children, they become the victims of conflicts, which have nothing to do with it. As much as possible, parents should set an example for children, showing a reasonable and positive way out of the conflict. Otherwise, the child becomes a victim or starts to understand violence as one of the possible means of conflict resolution and in the future uses this violence to resolve issues that appear in life.(Smith 1989)
Baron, R., & Richardson, D. (1994). Human aggression. New York: Plenum Press.
Huesmann, L., & Eron, L. (1986). Television and the aggressive child. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Krahé, B. (2001). The social psychology of aggression. Hove, East Sussex [England]: Psychology Press.
Rice, F. (1975). The adolescent: development, relationships and culture. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Smith, L. (1989). Domestic violence. London: H.M.S.O.
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