English 10 Honors
April 3, 2014
Media Violence and the Effects on Youth
“The more children see of violence, the more numb they are to the deadly consequences of violence. Now, video games like ‘Mortal Kombat,’ ‘Killer Instinct,’ and ‘Doom,’ the very game played obsessively by the two young men who ended so many lives in Littleton, make our children more active participants in simulated violence” (“Quotes: Media Violence”). These are the words of former President Bill Clinton, just days after the tragic Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado. The shooters, seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, aged 18 and 17 respectively, murdered 13 people and seriously injured 23 others before turning their guns on themselves (Anderson and Bushman 353). They were both believed to have enjoyed playing the video game ‘Doom’, and created a setting for the shooting that was rather like the game. This has sparked a debate on media violence and the effects it has on children and today’s youth. The idea that media violence has potentially harmful effects has been analyzed for quite a long time, and many agreements have been reached on several of the issues it creates. It is not just violent video games that have effects on children, but any kind of violent media, like television, news, books, music, and others. The average young person will have viewed a projected 200,000 deeds of violence on television alone, by only the age of 18 (“Media Violence”). Violence in the media leads to violence in today’s youth by increasing their aggressive behavior, affecting their cognition, and decreasing their pro-social behavior.
Media violence does increase youth’s aggressive behavior. Of all the research done on media violence and the effects it has on young people, there has been much more done on the effects it has on their aggressive behavior. Over the years, the research evidence of media violence and the fact that it leads to aggressive behavior has been piling up. For example, in a study of almost 32,000 teenagers from eight different countries, it revealed that teens with heavy television- viewing were linked with bullying (“Media Violence”). Also, a study of 130,296 participants, found that higher levels of aggressive behavior were considerably related to exposure to violent video games (Anderson et. al 160). Routine exposure to media violence in the middle of childhood is known to predict increased aggressiveness later on. In a study of children, when both boys and girls watched more television violence, there was found to be increasing rates of aggression in the children. In a follow-up of the same children 15 years later, it was found that those children who habitually watched more television violence in their middle childhood years grew up to be more aggressive young adults (Huesmann and Taylor 397, 398). Again, a study by Professor Leonard Eron, interviewed 875 third-graders in 1960. In 1970, ten years later, he was able to find...