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The topic focus is exposure to mass media violence (television, video gaming, movies, etcâ€¦) and how this affects children and teen’s behavior. For many years the topic of mass media violence and the vast amount of exposure that children and teens are subjected to has led to numerous discussions and allegedly a significant amount of research that has shown exposure to violence is causation for aggressive and/or violent behavior in children and teens. Research has shown that as technology has advanced and censorship has decreased, children and teens are being exposed to aggression and violence more than ever, and this exposure leads to desensitization and a strong, positive, correlation that children and teens are exhibiting aggressive and/or violent behaviors after being exposed to aggressive or violent situations. Some research has declared that children and teens who have been subjected to media violence have committed criminal acts as adults.
When you were a child, do you remember waking up early on Saturday mornings anxious to spend several hours sitting in front of the television watching cartoons? Did you ever stop and think that those fun Saturday shows could have been damaging to your psychological well-being? Yes, observing Fred Flintstone hitting Barney Rubble with a club, according to some research results that will follow, can be damaging to a person’s psychological health. Depending on the research that you read will determine the level of risk involved in being exposed to mass media violence. As censorship decreases and technology increases there is a high probability that the consumer, a large percentage being children and teens, is becoming more likely to be exposed to aggression and violence through mass media. The term mass media includes television programming, video games, music lyrics, sports, and anything that portrays acts of aggression or violence that may be mass produced.
Although numerous reports try to link media violence as causation for aggressive and violent behaviors there is no scientific study that shows more than a correlation between the two. Not all agree that a correlation even exist. Some feel that the lack of proper caregiving and education is to blame.
Video gaming was introduced in the early 70s with a game called Pong (Gentile & Anderson, 2003) that simply consisted of lines at each end of the screen, and a dot that bounced back and forth across the screen. The object of the game was played in the same manner as a tennis match. This was the birth of video gaming, an industry that is now worth billions. Gentile and Anderson (2003) say that, the gaming industry is raking in billions of dollars per year (Cohen, 2000). The PlayStation video game console, which began as a side project at Sony, now represents $6 billion of the company’s $20 billion in annual sales” (Cohen, 2000 cited in Gentile & Anderson, 2003, p.132). Since the early 70s, playing video games has become one for the favorite pastimes for teens and children. Gentile and Anderson, (2003) say that, “Video games have become one of the dominant entertainment media for children in a very short time. In the mid-1980s, children averaged about four hours a week playing video games, including time spent playing at home and in arcades” (Harris & ‘Williams, 1985 cited in Gentile & Anderson, 2003, p.132). Not only are these games played by a large percentage of children and teens, but moreover, “Many of the most popular games feature graphic depictions of weapons, street fighting, armed conflict, carnage, and death”(“BJA,” 2008, p. 1).
Researcher Erik Erikson developed eight stages of development. Erikson’s fifth stage of development is Identity vs. Role Confusion which occurs during the ages of 13 to 15 years of age (McLeod, 2008). During this stage Erikson asserts, according to McLeod (2008), “Is a major stage in development where the child has to learn the roles he will occupy as an adult” (para. 25). Mass media violence such as gaming, sports, television, etc., seem to target a vulnerable audience such as children and teens; both who often tend to exhibit risky behaviors due to immaturity that can possibly pose a problem for continued aggressive and violent behaviors as an adult.
Video Games – Did They Begin at Brookhaven? (1981). Retrieved from http://www.osti.gov/accomplishments/videogame.html
This informational article discusses the beginning of video gaming. A man by the name of William Higinbotham likely developed the first video game in the late 1950s (“osti.gov,” 1981). The game was later known as “Pong” that most of us enjoyed on our Atari game set. This is a simple game of two lines and a dot that bounced back and forth. The objective was not to let the dot get passed the line. The game had the same objective as a tennis game except it was played on a video screen. Higinbotham developed the game in a lab at Brookhaven National Laboratory (“osti.gov,” 1981). The article provides information on how the game was developed and how analog computers were used. There were minimal flaws in early production, but overall, the game worked very well and became a huge success (1981). The article provides convincing information as to the first ever video game.
Since the 1950s, it is no surprise that technology has advanced and video games have gone through some extreme changes. These games have become more realistic and life like and it was inevitable that displays of aggression and violet portrayals would soon enter into the picture and that would target and negatively affect some of the child and teen population.
Ivory, J. (2008). The games, they are a changin’: Technological advancements in video games and implications for effects on youth. In P. Jamieson, & D. Romer (Eds.), The Changing Portrayal of Adolescents in the Media since 1950 (pp. 215-375). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/179143/The_games_they_are_a_changin_Technological_advancements_in_video_games_and_implications_for_effects_on_youth
The information in this book chapter focuses on the changes that have occurred since William Higinbotham first invented the infamous Pong game. This chapter reviews early research released by the Kaiser Family Foundation who examined early video gaming and how much time children spent playing games. Initially children played the games only an hour or two weekly; older children seemed to play games longer. Dated research in 2007 by Kaiser Family Foundation, found that a large percentage of children and teens tend to play video games greater than 14 hours per week (Ivory, 2008). This book chapter also discusses how children and teens are “groomed” from an early age to engage in gaming. Information is also provided that explains how advertisers target children and teens when producing such games. It is also discussed how violent video gaming can have negative psychological effects on teens and children. Ivory provides resources and references as to the research in this chapter. Ivory seems to provide valid information on how the gaming industry has advanced and the negative effects that can be placed on children and teens.
It seems that people who produce violent video gaming and other forms of media violence seem to have a good understanding of the stages of development that children go through. Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget coined several stages that children progress through in life. At certain stages, children are very vulnerable and may not be able to differentiate between fiction, fantasy, and reality.
McLeod, S. (2008). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
This informational article provides information and the concept of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development. The particular stages that were analyzed for the purpose of the mass media violence topic are Erikson’s stage 4 and 5 – Industry (competence) vs. Inferiority (6 – 12 years) and Identity vs. Role Confusion (13 – 18 years) which seems to be ages that are more prone to play video games (McLeod, 2008). Information is provided details how children and teens are vulnerable and still display some risky behaviors during these stages of life. Industry (competence) vs. Inferiority stage shows that children are still learning vital life skills that are important to carry them in future stages of life (2008). Identity vs. Role Confusion, according to this theory, which occurs from early to late teen years shows that teens are somewhat confused and are looking ahead to what they have to accomplish success in life; this can be easily disrupted. The concepts of Erikson’s theory show that childhood and early teen years are crucial times in their life and can be easily altered (2008).
Albert Bandura conducted a study called the Bobo doll experiment where groups of children were exposed to an adult displaying aggressive type behavior toward a blow-up type doll that is obviously a child’s toy. When the children were placed into the room with the doll, a significant percentage, according to Bandura’s results, modeled the behavior that was witnessed (Bandura & Ross, 1961).
Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 63, 575-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0045925
In this experimental design the researchers, Bandura and Ross, used more than a total of 70 participants which were preschool aged children that consisted of both boys and girls. There were a total of three groups with one being a control group. Bandura’s hypothesis was, if children observed violence, children would then model or repeat what was witnessed. The experimental groups witnessed the adult role model (a female) showing aggressive behavior towards a blow up doll, likely a child’s punching bag type toy, coined with the name Bobo doll. After the act, all of the children were placed in the room with the doll and other toys. The experimenters then observed the participants for aggressive type behavior. The results determined that the children who witnessed the act displayed more aggression than the control group. The concept seems to show that viewing aggression provokes arousal. The experiment seems valid but would likely not be passed by the board today for ethical reasons. Most of the research that has been performed regarding mass media violence and aggression now has mainly consisted of interviews and self-report questionnaires.
Marketing techniques and strategies by companies is said to target children and teens to purchase violent video games. The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is currently rated as PG TV which means parental guidance; however, even with a PG rating, professional wrestling still exposes the watcher to aggressive and violent acts. Over 50% of World Wrestling Entertainment’s target audience is under the age of 35 years (Oz, 2012). Not only sports programming but television also uses methods of targeting an audience.
Dorfman, L., Woodruff, K., Chavez, V., & Wallack, L. (1997). Youth and violence on local television news in California. American Journal Of Public Health, 87, 1311-1316. http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.87.8.1311
The data from the American Journal of Public Health gathered by the researcher’s looks at how television news broadcasts prime its viewers and lawmakers to form an opinion on violence as it relates to young people. The method was an analysis of over 200 hours of local news footage and over 1,700 news stories that pertained to violent acts conducted by young people. The results found some key factors such as violence were the main issue in the news. The conclusion was that violence was the main topic in news coverage. A major flaw in the results is due to only local coverage being analyzed.
Oz, D. (2012). WWE News: Breakdown of Ages of WWE Audience Illustrates Interesting Trend. Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1040312-wwe-news-breakdown-of-ages-of-wwe-audience-shows-interesting-trend
In this informational article on how sports companies, mainly the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) targets young people with their marketing strategies to purchase their videos and games which some consider to display violence. The article provides information relating to target ages that WWE seek as their audience base.
Rifon, N., Royne, M., & Carlson, L. (2010). Violence and advertising: Effects and consequences. Journal of Advertising, 39. http://dx.doi.org/10.2753/JOA0091-3367390401
The information released in this article discusses the advertising methods used to promote violent video games. The article discusses that “during family programming, teaser campaigns for the nightly news and other highly violent shows seem to appear regularly” (Rifon, Royne, & Carlson, 2010, p. 9). The article focuses on media violence and tactics used by advertisers to seemingly target children into purchasing violent video games. The article was more of an outrage and plea for advertisers to find other ways to promote violent video game sales.
Bloom, R. (2002). On media violence: Whose facts? Whose misinformation? American Psychologist, 57(5-7), 447-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.57.6-7.447
This is an informational article that reviews literature and research that shows how some reports and statistics may have been misreported in some reports over the years. Bloom says that, “Over the past 50 years, the average news report has changed from claims of a weak link to a moderate link and then back to a weak link between media violence and aggression” (Bloom, 2002, p. 448). The validity of this article is unknown since there are likely conflicting reports that may be found.
Video Games and Violence. (2008). Retrieved from http://ksu.edu.sa/sites/KSUArabic/Research/ncys/Documents/r8.pdf
This article from the Bureau of Justice Assistance National Crime Prevention Council is a large overview of violent video gaming, the concern that some have concerning violent games, and the article also discusses the rating system that is now in place for games and music; the rating system is similar to the rating system used for movies. The article also reviews past research that determined violent video gaming correlated with aggressive behaviors. The concept of the article correlates with most other research that shows a strong link between violent games and aggressive behavior.
As time has progressed, video games and other forms of mass media violence have made its way into the homes of children and teens. Not only video games but other forms of violence such as, television and music lyrics have also raised issues pertaining to violence.
Violent song lyrics may lead to violent behavior [brief]. (2003, July 2003). American Psychological Association, 34(7). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/violent.aspx
This article released by the APA reviews five experiments in which “more than 500 college students to listen to such violent songs as,
“Shoot ‘Em Up” by Cypress Hill and “Hit ‘Em Hard” by Run DMC, and such nonviolent songs as “Finger Lickin’ Good” by the Beastie Boys and “Love vs. Loneliness” by the Suicidal Tendencies. Researchers also included the lyrics of humorous violent and nonviolent songs like “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash and “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh” by Allan Sherman” (“APA lyrics,” 2003, para. 4).
After listening to the lyrics, the participants were asked to perform a task using word associations. The results found that participants used words pertaining to more association with aggression and also reported “feelings of hostility as measured by the State Hostility Scale, ranking sentences based on their emotions after hearing the songs” (2003, para.4). The results found a strong link between violent lyrics and hostility.
Some regulations have been put into place that requires manufactures to place a rating on the game, or in other cases parental advisories have to be placed on CDs that contain strong or suggestively violent language.
ESRB Ratings Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp
This information contains the rating system that is required for all video games. Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Video games are rated in the following manner: eC – Early Childhood, E – Everyone, T – Teen, M – Mature, Ao – Adults only (“ESRB,” n.d.). This article is informational and contains no data. The game rating system is the only information disclosed.
The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence released statistical data in regards to exposure to violence.
Media Violence. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.nccev.org/violence/media.html
The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence says that “The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that by age 18, the average American child will have viewed about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone” (“NCCEV,” 2003, para. 1). According to NCCEV (2003), statistics show that –
Nearly 3 out 4 eighth graders watch 2+ hours of TV each weekday (Brown, Brett and Bzostek, Sharon. Violence in the Lives of Children. Cross Currents, Issue 1, August 2003. Child Trends DataBank)
60% percent of American households have three or more televisions (Kaiser Family Foundation. Kids and Media Fact Sheet. Revised November 2001).
A third of all 0-6 year-olds (36%) have a TV in their bedroom, more than one in four (27%) have a VCR or DVD, one in ten have a video game player, and 7% have a computer. Thirty percent of 0-3 year-olds have a TV in their room, and 43% of 4-6 year-olds do. (Kaiser Family Foundation. Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers. October 2003
The National Television Violence Study found that nearly 2 out of 3 TV programs contained some violence, averaging about 6 violent acts per hour. (“NCCEV,” 2003, para. 7)
Statistical data is reviewed in this article.
Key Facts. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/key-facts-tv-violence.pdf
In Key Facts released from the Kaiser family Foundation gives informational and statistical data regarding the prevalence of violence on TV stating that –
Nearly 2 out of 3 TV programs contained some
violence, averaging about 6 violent acts per hour.
â€¢ Fewer than 5% of these programs featured an
anti-violence theme or prosocial message emphasizing
alternatives to or consequences of violence.
â€¢ Violence was found to be more prevalent in children’s
programming (69%) than in other types of
programming (57%). In a typical hour of programming,
children’s shows featured more than twice
as many violent incidents (14) than other types of
programming. (“Kaiser Key Facts,” 2003)
The article goes on to discuss and review information pertaining to media violence in regards to laboratory study reviews and field experiments. The Kaiser Family Foundation did not conduct these experiments or studies. The article is informational and relays some statistical information.
In a report released by the Senate on the Judiciary (1999) says that, The National Institute on Media and Family found that, despite the rating system in place for video games, in 1998, only 21% of retail and rental stores had any policies prohibiting the sale or rental of adult games to minors. Earlier this year the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony about a 12-year-old boy who bought the video games “Doom” and “Quake”–both of which are rated for adults only–at a Washington, D.C. video store at the recommendation of the store clerk. The National Institute on Media and the Family also found that some manufacturers of video games are marketing to children ultra-violent products rated only for adults. One such video game, “Resident Evil 2,” was advertised in the magazine “Sports Illustrated for Kids.” (Hatch, 1999, para. 27)
The report by the Senate on the Judiciary (1999) states a direct causation of violent behaviors and media violence by saying “The effect of media violence on our children is no longer open to debate” (Hatch, 1999, p. 38).
Hatch, O. (1999). CHILDREN, VIOLENCE, AND THE MEDIA. Retrieved from http://www.indiana.edu/~cspc/ressenate.htm
This informational article from the Senate on the Judiciary reviews statistical data as well as possible solutions for violent video games being sold to underage buyers. The article reviews problems, principle causes, steps for national reform, and guidance for parents. The article reviews forms of violence including, film, television, and video gaming. The validity of this information is not in question and the article provides some forms of assisting parents in how to be aware of what type of materials are being sold to children.
Technology has grossly progressed over the past few years. Not only can violent gaming be played on a home gaming set, but now children and teens have access to portable gaming and videos through telephones, and other portable social media gadgets. Media has come a long way since the release of Pong. The following article reviews range from interview and questionnaire type experiments to longitudinal studies that show a correlation between aggressive behaviors as a child after being exposed to media violence to criminal behavior that has led to incarceration for violent crimes as an adult.
Gentile, D., & Bushman, B. (2012). Reassessing media violence effects using a risk and resilience approach to understanding aggression. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 1, 138–151. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028481
Data released from the Psychology of Popular Media Culture in regards to the effects of exposure to media violence and behavior issues. This is a study using questionnaires that measured 6 risk factors for aggressive behavior after viewing violent situations such as video games, T.V., etc. The study used over four hundred participants that consisted of third and fourth grade students, their peers, and teachers. Several risk factors were taken into account for this study such as the sex of the participant; hostile attribution bias, and parents’ involvement in media were also considered. The procedure used was peer nomination, self-report, and teacher ratings. The findings found that there is substantial risk, up to 10%, for aggression after viewing media violence Opposed to those who did not view media violence. The article seems to be on target with some previous findings, although having to use a self-report questionnaire always leaves room for false answers by the participants.
Huesmann, L. (1986). Psychological Processes Promoting the Relation Between Exposure Between Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior by the Viewer. Journal of Social Issues, 42. Retrieved from http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/83383/1/1986.Huesmann.PsycProcesPromottheRelaBetExpostoMedViol&AggBeha.JourofSocialIssues.pdf
The informational data released by the Journal of Social Issues pertains to a developmental theory of correlation with exposure to media violence and the maladaptive behavioral effect that it can pose. This article addresses if there is causation rather than correlation to media violence exposure and aggression. The causes of aggressive behavior are addressed and exposure to media violence was not listed. The topic of childhood aggression and criminal behavior as an adult was also discussed. It is documented in the article that aggression is usually stable over a long period of time and does not usually escalate. Learning of aggressive behavior and social behavior along with aggressive scripts were also covered. In summary it was found that exposure to media violence is most likely correlational rather than causation of aggression and violent behaviors. This article contains mostly the same statements that can be found in other research material.
Donnerstein, E., & Smith, S. (1997). Impact of media violence on children, adolescents, and adults. In S. Kirschner, & D. Kirschner (Eds.), Perspectives on psychology and the media (pp. 29-68). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/10509-002
The information released in this book chapter covers some statistics released by the American Psychological Association in 1993 that address the continued rise in children and teens committing violent acts and criminal behavior. The book chapter also address “that there is no single cause to violent behavior” (Donnerstein & Smith, 1997, p. 30). The types of violence that are being placed in the media are also discussed. Gerbner and Signorielli, (1990) cited in (Donnerstein & Smith, 1997) say that, “there are approximately 5 to 6 violent acts per hour on prime-time television and 20 to 25 violent acts per hour on Saturday morning children’s fare” (p. 31). The chapter details the excessive amount of time that children watch TV. The chapter in Donnerstein and Smith (1997) avers that “the level of violence on broadcast television has remained relatively constant over the last two decades” (Gerbner, 1992 cited in Donnerstein & Smith, 1997, p. 32). The chapter goes on to address the issues of TV programming and media violence and exposure remains a correlation to aggressive and violent behaviors in children and teens.
Hanratty Thomas, M., Horton, R., Lippincott, E., & Drabman, R. (1977). Desensitization to portrayals of real-life aggression as a function of television violence. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 35, 450-458. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.110
The research data hypothesizes that viewing violence on TV desensitizes the viewers to real life violence. In two separate experiments researchers used young children and college students in which they viewed film clips displaying violent and non-violent behavior or acts except for female subjects. The results and discussion determined that there was increased arousal for the subjects that viewed violent film clips. Review is par for the repeated results in most other research experiments.
Violence in Mass Media. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/policy/media.aspx
This article is a prelease from the American Psychological Association Board of Directors and Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest Council who have determined through research evaluation that over the past years has escalated. The APA Council has released information and suggestion in the following areas: mass media violence leads to aggressive behavior – viewing violence desensitizes people to its negative effects – the viewing of violence increases viewers’ tendencies for becoming involved with or exposing themselves to violence – has determined that most children’s television programming contains acts of violence. The article is informative and coincides with other forms of information and suggestions.
There has been some research done in the area of longitudinal studies performed. Some of the articles also relate to exposure to mass media violence as a child can lead to violent and aggressive behavior as an adult. Some participants in studies are currently or have been incarcerated for violent offences.
Childhood Exposure to Media Violence Predicts Young Adult Aggressive Behavior, According to a New 15-Year Study. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2003/03/media-violence.aspx
The data released by the American Psychological Association is a multi-year study that addresses the exposure, by children, to media violence and the continued display of violence in TV programming and the outcome of such. The method used is a follow up study that was conducted in 1977 of over 500 participants. The results released show that both men and women who were exposed to media violence while growing up continued to display aggressive behavior as an adult. The conclusion brings forth “a number of steps parents and society can take to prevent or reduce this effect. The article also gives the suggestion of “V-chip technology, which gives parents a way to control what the TV will allow to be broadcast in the home, is a step in the right direction, according to the authors, “but only if a content-based rating system is used that would actually allow parents to make judgments on the basis of violent content instead of the age guideline rating system used for many programs” (para. 8). The article coincides mainly with other research on the topic of mass media violence and also offers suggestion to parents as to educating and controlling their children’s TV viewing.
Ward, D. (1986). Television and violent criminal behavior: Beyond the bobo doll. Violence And
Victims, 1, 177-190. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=180da99d-1e44-4f8d-bc05-f9294ea9371f%40sessionmgr11&vid=7&hid=22&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=psyh&AN=1988-10928-001
The data in this study expounds on Albert Bandura’s Bobo doll experiment. The study is a continuation on the social learning theory that consists of over 90 male participants between late teen to mid-twenties; some of the participants are incarcerated and have charges that have been deemed violent. Some of the subjects are non-violent and are not incarcerated. The hypothesis of the researchers is children who are exposed to media violence as a child continue to exhibit aggressive and violent behaviors as an adult when exposed to media violence and parental violence and or abuse. The experiment is a self-report questionnaire that consists of questions pertaining to television habit and media violence exposure as a child. The results determined that “high exposure to television during childhood years was related to the commission of a violent crime during young adulthood if violence was also present in the home” (Ward, 1986, para. 10). The study is status quo that exposure to violence correlates with continued aggressive behaviors. The study did not reveal any information in regards to the non-incarcerated participants.
Although there are few actual observational studies in the United States, there are some that have been performed rather recently in other countries; some studies have been performed in Germany in particular as exposure to mass media violence does seem to cross cultural boarders.
Krahé, B., Busching, R., & Möller, I. (2012). Media violence use and aggression among German adolescents: Associations and trajectories of change in a three-wave longitudinal study. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028663
The issue addressed is a two year longitudinal study to determine if there is any further association between viewing mass media violent si