Does exposure to violence in video games, on TV, and in social media have an effect on those exposed to it? Are those who are underage more susceptible to any detrimental side effects from viewing these things? This has long been a topic of discussion among lawmakers, psychologists, and the scientific field as a whole. It concerns parents and community members, especially in the wake of a seeming rise in violence at school from bullying, fighting, or in the extreme cases of school shootings. Were any of these types of incidents encouraged by exposure to violence in media?
For the scope of this paper I'll only be using information from a small number of experiments, and the results generated by them. There is simply too much information out there to cover it all, however interestingly there are very few long term studies on the effects of violence in media on youths that have been completed at the time of this writing.
The debate over the effects of violent video games have direct correlations, and indeed many of the same arguments as were used in the debate over the safety of violent comic books for youths which occurred in the 1950's(Hall, Day, and Hall). There were concerns that the comic books would lead to a decline in morals, an upswing in violence, and a growth of lawlessness and social deterioration(Hall, Day, and Hall). There was testimony by experts in the medical field before the Senate regarding whether or not these comics should be purchasable by children, or even in eyesight of them. (Hall, Day, and Hall) Dr. Frederic Wertham, forensic psychiatrist, gave this testimony before a Senate subcommittee using many of the arguments that we see again today regarding the safety and effects of violent video games and media on children:
There are however two “social theories” that hold the majority sway over the ideas of the potential impact of violent video games(Hall, Day, and Hall). The first stating that these games increase violence by teaching the players how to be violent, then rewarding them in game for violent activities. (Hall, Day, and Hall)
Findings supporting these claims also show that with an increase in violence comes other negative health risks such as an increased likelihood of substance abuse, sexual activity, and obesity(Denniston, Swahn, Feldman, and Romero). Media use, and subsequent exposure to violent content is extremely prevalent among 8 to 18 year old children who spend, on average, 7.4 hours a day using media or computers and 80% of teens have some type of gaming console(Denniston, Swahn, Feldman, and Romero) These claims and the amount of media children are exposed to were concerning enough that the American Academy of Pediatrics started making advisory statements about violent video games and media being health risks for children in 2001. (Hall, Day, and Hall) Since then the link between violent games and violent behavior in youths has been researched across many “population groups”(Denniston,...