When someone gets shot in a movie, it’s no big deal, because it’s a movie right? Many would argue that it is a big deal. The debate over the effect of violence in the media on younger people has been a greatly contested issue for years now since the Columbine shootings in 1999. It is now amplified because of the recent rash of school and mass shootings in the U.S. which include Tucson, AZ, Washington Navy Yard, Aurora Theater, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech. When events like this happen, you start to wonder about the impact constant exposure to violence has on kids.
What Types Of Media Are Potentially Harmful?
While research on the relationship between violence in the media and acts of violence by youths is still rather primitive, we can definitely notice a correlation. We see this with the influence of video games; like Grand Theft Auto, Doom, and Halo. Though these games can provide a way of blowing off-steam and can actually boost dexterity in certain kids, they can also be harmful for others. According to Eugene Beresin and Steve Schlozman of Psychology Today, “Aggressive kids seem to be drawn to these games, and might be affected differently compared to the other kids who are not angry or aggressive.”
The incessant blood and gore of Hollywood certainly doesn’t help things. Movies like American Psycho and Natural Born Killers even make the NRA (national rifle association) blush. They call them “blood-soaked” and say they are like pornography. Executive President, Wayne LaPierre states, “A child growing in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.” And with the growing craze of “slasher films” like Saw and Hostile there seems to be no way to stop the bleeding.
Violence in the media doesn’t just stop with video games and movies. It is also present in modern music, particularly hip-hop. With many songs adopting the popular sex, drugs, and violence aesthetic, it can be somewhat overwhelming and influential for the teenage listener. These songs can be especially negative when they feature violent and degrading lyrics against women.
Artists such as Rick Ross and Lil Wayne have been cited before as insensitive lyricists. For example, Rick Ross lost a deal with Reebok last year over lyrics that insinuated a date rape scenario. Recent studies in The Psychology of Women Quarterly, “found that men who listened to lyrics that depicted sexual violence and viewed music videos depicting women in subordinate roles were more likely to express misogynistic beliefs and increase sexually aggressive behavior towards women.”
What Are The Solutions To Violence In The Media?
Taking responsibility before these problems crop up is key. Certain ways to establish a healthy balance include:
- Monitoring the types of games children are allowed to play.
- Being aware of ratings for games and movies that are played and watched.
- Keeping television sets and gaming systems out of children’s rooms, and-finding alternative ways for them to occupy their time.
- Putting a time limit on games and movies throughout the week.
- Preventing younger children, especially preschoolers from viewing this content at all.
Parents can also learn more about the content of movies, shows, and games through websites such as Commonsense Media. Any of these options will help safeguard children from potential harm that could absorbed via entertainment.
School shootings and violence of any kind is serious business, but can be treated and even prevented. Violence in the media is certainly not going away anytime soon. So at the very least we can address the issue by limiting the exposure to it.