The debate on whether exposure to media violence plays a role in influencing aggressive or violent behavior is a critical one. There are those who argue that exposure to media violence encourages violent behavior while others oppose the notion.
Those who support the idea like Nancy Signorielli argue that exposure to media violence prompts people to have a notion that the world is a violent place. This desensitizes them so that they begin adapting unacceptable behavioral traits.
The pro side of the argument clearly brings out the fact that media violence has a long time effect on the people especially the children. They are desensitized and tend to become aggressive or fearful.
The argument against the connection has however been clearly brought out the fact that media violence has significantly increased in the resent past yet cases of real-life violence have significantly reduced.
The argument for the existence of a connection between the two proposes that people exposed to media violence are more likely develop aggressive behavior than those who are not. It is stated that the media does not clearly bring out the fact that crime is bad and people in the long run tend to ape aggressive behavior from the same.
Those arguing against it on the other hand insist that studies show no connection between the two. They are of the opinion that exposure of media violence to the children at an early age has no effect whatsoever to the change of the children’s behavior to that associated with violence.
It is argued that the violence in the media is purely entertainment and that there is no message intended to convince the viewers that violence is good.
Jonathan Freedman’s Argument
Those who are against the notion like, Jonathan Freedman, argue that scientific evidence shows no connection between media violence and the actual aggressive behavior in people. They argue that the violence in the media just causes arousal and existent among the people but not necessarily aggressive behavior.
According to this argument, there has been a significant increase in media violence in the resent past yet the real cases of violence have significantly reduced (Potter, 2003).
Nancy Signoriell’s argument
According to Signoriell’s argument, children who are exposed to violence at an early age tend to develop antisocial behavioral traits that are associated with violence later in life. Some of them indulge in fights, abuse of their spouses as well as other criminal activities.
It is believed that most of the violence shown in the media does not clearly bring out the fact that crime never pays. In some cases, those who indulge in criminal activities go unpunished and children get the wrong signal that indulging in crime is not immoral and hence tend to adopt criminal behavior.
Pro-side of the Argument
The argument is based on several studies and statistical data which have proved that children exposed to media violence are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior than those who are not. Several experiments have been carried out to the same effect.
Studies have proved that the children exposed to pro-social media messages are likely to develop positive behavior traits while those exposed to media violence tend to copy the same. Exposure to media violence increases the rates of gender stereotyping especially among the children.
People tend to use the media while confirming their attitudes as well as beliefs for instance while approving violence. Some of these arguments are however biased in a way given that some of the studies have been done in highly repressed societies like South Africa during the colonial era (Freedman, 2002).
The other weakness of this argument is that violent or aggressive behavior among people could be due to the fact that people come from families that witness frequent incidences of violence.
The media might in such cases not be the cause of aggressive behavior in such people. There have also been an increase in the media violence in the resent past yet the cases of real violence in society have significantly reduced instead of increasing. This shows weakness in the argument.
Con-side of the Argument
Going by the con side of the issue, desensitization has its own positive side. It has for instance been found out that children with problems of fear are likely to be less fearful after being exposed to desensitizing films or media programs, particularly those that are horrifying. It is therefore a remedy to those children with social problems.
The weakness of the con side is that exposing people to media violence desensitizes them and they in the long run tend to approve of such violence and show less concern or pity for the victims of the violence.
The violence and scary images are likely to instill fear in the children who watch such programs either on the short or long-term basis. Some of them might even have nightmares in which they might scream while sleeping. People exposed to more of the violent media tend to believe that the world is a scary place and they become cautious of many people or things.
They tend to believe that they are out to protect themselves. Studies carried out have proved that people exposed to media violence are more likely develop aggressive behavior than those who are not. This evidence shows weakness on this side of the argument (Phillip, 1979).
The arguments are credible given that the authors have cited the appropriate sources and studies that support their arguments. Those who argue that there exists no connection between media violence and aggression have for instance based their arguments on other scholars who have written concerning the same issue like Fowles : (Fowles 1999).
Some of the studies quoted include that done by Ronald Milavsky with others which was a longitudinal study that was carried out in three years from 1970 t0 1973. These are accompanied by statistical evidences and figures.
In this case for instance, a study was carried out on 2400 school children at the elementary level while 800 teenagers were sampled in the study. The argument for the existence of the connection between the two has also been based on other scholarly material like; (Singer 1988) as well as (Potter 2003). The two arguments are both coupled with evidence from other sources.
The author who holds a substantive argument is the one who argues that media violence affects people’s behavior driving them towards aggressive or violent behavior. This is because the argument is couple with enough evidence to justify the same.
Television for instance tends to shape people’s opinions as well as perceptions towards life issues. When it is stuffed with violence and crime people tend to appreciate the fact that crime and violence are not bad, given that some of the offenders go without being punished. People therefore tend to adopt violent and aggressive behavior as a result.
The description, analysis as well as evaluation of the argument has been done in a comprehensive and clear way coupled with evidences derived from different studies or sources. It has been clearly brought out that exposure to violent programs to children as well as adults tends to drive them towards behaving aggressively as compared to those who are not exposed to them (Signorielli, 2002).
Contemporary research supports the side which argues that a connection exists between aggressive behavior and exposure to violent media programs.
Different studies have been carried out to the same effect and they have proved that children who are exposed to violent media at an early age tend to have their future lives characterized by acts of violence like spouse abuse as well as fighting.
Studies have also been carried out whereby children have been separated into two groups; one group is exposed to violent media and the other not.
The evidence revealed that those children that were exposed to violent media exhibited change in their behavior as well as speech as they tended to be more aggressive than their counterparts who were not exposed to the same.
It has also been proved that those who are exposed to violent media programs tended to be desensitized in the sense that they tended to sympathize less with the victims of violence as compared to those who were not exposed to the same.
Fowles, J. (1999). Teaching the Post modern. The Enigma, 50-60.
Freedman, J. (2002). Media Vilence and its Effects on Aggression: Assessing The Scientific Evidence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Phillip, D. (1979). Suicide, the motovehicle facilities and the mass media: Evidence towards a theory of suggestion. American Journal of Sociology , 560-568.
Potter, J. (2003). The eleven myths of media violence. Califonia: Sage Publications.
Signorielli, N. (2002). Violence in the Media. A Reference Handbook , 25-268.
Singer, R. (1988). Strategies and metastrategies in learning and performing self-paced athletic skills . The Sports Psychologist, 49-68.