Incidence of violence in media

Violence in the media has a long history of existence. Huesmann (s7) notes that movies depicting violence associated with physical aggression were available in the 1920s and have since become more frequent. Television programs followed suit with violent programs being aired in the 1940s immediately after the wide spread use of TVs among the American population in the 1940s (Huesmann s7). In the modern world forms of media violence is not only evident in movies and TV programs but also is a characteristic of video games, the internet and more recently cell phones. The focus of most literature in the U.S. on TV, films and video games is informed by the noted statistics on children viewership and violent content exhibited on the available options. The average TV viewership among U.S children has for example been noted to be between 3-4 hours with an excess of 60% of the programs being observed to exhibit some form of violence (Huesmann s9). Further video game players have been estimated to be in 83% of the U.S. homesteads with children between the ages of 8 and 9 being indicated to spend at least 49 minutes in a day on such games (Huesmann s9). The playing culture is noted to pick up as the children enter into adolescence to 65 minutes for each day but lowers towards the end of adolescence to 33 minutes in a day (Huesmann s9). A big proportion of games (94%) that have been approved for use by teenagers are also noted to contain violent pursuits and such percentages could be higher when different variables are incorporated (Huesmann s9). These statics do not encompass the impact of the internet and technological advances that allow for the installation of such games in portable devices. As an example, the times spent on playing video games could increase when the time spent on playing such games away from homes on portable devices is taken into account. The debate and measurement of such statistics is however restricted to the definition of media violence and measurement approach for actual aggression resulting from such kinds of violence.

A number of factors influence the debate as to whether media violence results to real-life aggression. The first of these regards what is perceived to constitute media violence (Huesmann s6). The definition of violence to include cartoon violence in some of the studies and exclusion of these due to their comic effect in other studies exemplify the diverse perceptions. Generally, however, media violence would constitute all forms of visual displays of physical aggression actions either by a human being or a character resembling a human being on another (Huesmann s7). Though displays of aggression that result in physical harm of one character by another would be the main measure of violence, other non physical aggressiveness such as insults and malevolence behavior sometimes are an indication of violence (Huesmann s7). Focus on the violent behavior that bears the potential of injuring another character forms the core of discussions in majority of the literature assessing the effect of media violence on an individual’s behavior in the real life.

Another factor that forms a barrier to studies aimed at explaining the association between media violence and actual violence is the measurement method to be employed. Cantor (30) notes that conducting an experimental probe into such association is impossible since children cannot be randomly subjected to high doses of media violence in their infancy for the sole purpose of comparing these with unexposed group later in life. Such experiments would in principle constitute a breach of ethical conduct required of every professional. This limitation makes it impossible to conduct studies that provide for independent measures of aggression and thus curtails the impact the studies would have otherwise provided in understanding the link between the two aspects.  However, in analyzing the implication of media violence in real life violence, long term controlled studies examining children’s media habits which are then related to hostile behavior in such individuals provides a prudent measure (Cantor 31). Further experiments assessing the short –term effects of watching media violence, not watching such violence or watching varied forms of violence provides a prudent pointer to the real life impacts of media violence. Such experiments mainly involve non physical measures of violence such as attitudes towards violence acceptance, hostility moods and “willingness to inflict pain or to impose non physical negative consequences on someone else” (Cantor 31). The combined results of these studies have pointed to the association of media violence and actual violence. Continue to part 3.

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