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Violence in Mass Media

Mass Communication and Its Impact on Society
The term Mass media refers to a rane of technoloies that include !ut are
not limited to tele"isions# radios# ne$spapers and films amon others %&!arra# et al#
2''()* The main reason for the in"ention# continued use and e"en impro"ement of
these technoloies is due to their inherent a!ility to reach numerous num!ers of
people throuhout the $orld %Murray# 2''()* In spite of this fact# the actual effect of
the content of mass media on the !eha"iour of the recipients has !een a "ery
contro"ersial issue* This has !een especially so $ith reference to the role of mass
media on the escalatin le"els of "iolence $ithin the society today throuhout the
$orld %+eruson , -il!urn# 2''.)* /hereas there are those such as 0lato that thin1
that mass media is to !lame for the aression !ein $itnessed in society today#
there is also the arument that "iolence is in no $ay related to the content of mass
media in the $orld today %2ryant , Oli"er# 2''()* The purpose of this study is to
pro"ide an opinion concernin the role of mass media in the "iolence that is
!ecomin increasinly pre"alent in the $orld today* This $ill !e done !y e3aminin
!oth sides of the contro"ersies
PART 2: Violence in Mass Media Promotes Violence in Society
Ma4ority of the proponents of the theory that "iolence of mass media is
responsi!le for "iolence in the society are social scientists and academics* Various
studies ha"e presented statistics as e"idence for the correlation !et$een "iolence in
the community* There are theories that ha"e !een de"eloped to e3plain the
transference of "iolence from mass media to indi"iduals in the community* These
include the social learnin theory# the social coniti"e theory and the catalyst model*
The social learnin theory is !ased on the 2o!o 5oll e3periments that $ere
carried out !y 6ntonio 2andura* In these e3periments# children $ere left $ith a 2o!o
doll in a room after they had !een sho$n a clip $here a model !eat the doll* The
children !eat the 2o!o doll 4ust as they had seen the model doin %2ryant , Oli"er#
2''()* It7s therefore suested that any "iolence that is sho$n on tele"ision $ill !e
copied $ithout 8uestion especially !y the youner children* The social conition
theory is a deri"ati"e of the social learnin theory that encompasses elements of
learnin# primin# desensitisation# arousal and e3citation %+eruson , -il!urn# 2''.)*
The desensitisation part of this theory is considered particularly important in
descri!in the role of mass media in "iolence* In an e3periment# teenaers that had
!een e3posed to "iolence in "ideo ames $ere less affected !y a "ideo of real life
"iolence* On the other hand# teenaers that had !een playin non"iolent
"ideoames $ere more affected !y raphic "ideos* The catalyst theory proposes that
e3posure to "iolence on mass media amon other factors is to !lame for "iolence in
society %&!arra# et al# 2''()*
Statistically# it has !een sho$n that children that are e3posed to "iolence "ia
mass media on a daily !asis are also more li1ely to enae in "iolent and aressi"e
acts on a daily !asis* 6dditionally# studies ha"e claimed that indi"iduals that are
e3posed to "iolence on mass media are more li1ely to enae in "iolence $hen they
are adults# 2ill Clinton# J5# 92nd US 0resident# said in his 6pr* 29# :... 0resident7s
Radio 6ddress follo$in the Colum!ine ;ih School shootin in <ittleton# CO= >6s
;illary ?Clinton@ pointed out in her !oo1# the more children see of "iolence# the more
num! they are to the deadly conse8uences of "iolence* Ao$# "ideo ames li1e
BMortal -om!at#C B-iller Instinct#C and B5oom#C the "ery ame played o!sessi"ely !y
the t$o youn men $ho ended so many li"es in <ittleton# ma1e our children more
acti"e participants in simulated "iolence* The Colum!ine ;ih School
massacre $hich occurred on 6pril 2'# :... in Colum!ine# Colorado# t$o senior
students# Dric ;arris and 5ylan -le!old# murdered a total of :2 students and one
teacher* They in4ured 29 additional students and the pair then committed suicide. The
massacre spar1ed de!ate o"er firearms and un "iolence in"ol"in youths# teenae
Internet use

and "iolent "ideo ames. Remar1a!ly# aressi"e children that are not
e3posed to "iolence in mass media rarely e"er !ecome "iolent adults* 6nother
instance that may demonstrate the po$erful role of mass media in "iolent !eha"iour
is the Marilyn Monroe effect %2ryant , Oli"er# 2''()* This is a situation $here!y the
num!er of suicides that are reported after the suicide of a hih profile indi"idual rise
e3ponentially for t$o $ee1s after the e"ent*
PART 3: Violence in Mass Media Does not Promote Violence in society
The other school of thouht as far as "iolence and mass media is concerned
claims that the "iolence that is depicted "ia mass media is not sufficient to cause
"iolence $ithin society %Sa"ae , &ancey# 2''()* Just li1e the ad"ocates of the
theory that mass media has a role to play in "iolence $ithin society# there are
theories as $ell as statistics that ha"e !een put for$ard* The most popular theory in
this area is the moral panic theory*
6s mentioned earlier# the "ie$ that societal "iolence can !e directly lin1ed to
mass media e3isted e"en in the days of 0lato %+eruson , -il!urn# 2''.)* The moral
panic theory proposes that ne$ in"entions in human societies are often met $ith
neati"e sentiment* In todayCs ae# e"en the scholars such as the social scientists
and the academia ha"e !een accused of possessin this sentiment %2ryant , Oli"er#
2''()* This is in opposition to esta!lishin facts as they are !y consultin $idely and
!y carryin out scientific studies* Other theories that are often used in support of the
fact that societal "iolence is related to mass media "iolence ha"e !een discredited
for "arious reasons %;opf# ;u!er , /eir# 2''()* The social learnin theory is
discredited on the !asis of 2anduraCs e3periment* The 2o!o doll e3periment had
!een criticised on rounds that the children in"ol"ed may ha"e !een moti"ated to
please the researcher* The social conition theory has !een re4ected fre8uently in
the recent past on account of its aeE it has !een used for many years and is
deemed outdated* The catalyst model on the other hand is relati"ely recent and is
not $ell accepted as it has not !een $ell studied %&!arra# et al# 2''()*
The studies that ha"e !een done in a !id to relate mass media aression to
"iolence $ithin society ha"e !een criticised for "arious reason* The first reason has
!een the concentration on mass media !y researchers as a pointer for aression
$hilst inorin the fact that there are numerous other factors that determine
aression %2ryant , Oli"er# 2''()* 6dditionally# there are technical issues that ha"e
!een identified amon indi"iduals that ha"e studied this issue* The first of these
issues is the researchersC eneralisation and failure to desin the treatment $ell in
cases $here "iolent and non"iolent material is i"en to su!4ects for assessment
%Murray# 2''()* The second issue has !een the failure of researchers throuhout the
$orld to esta!lish measures that may !e used to 8uantify "iolence depicted on mass
media as $ell as measures of aression in indi"iduals %+eruson , -il!urn# 2''.)*
This has raised the issue that researchers may !e presentin results that are
con"enient for their o$n scholarly needs %&!arra# et al# 2''()*
in conclusion# it seems most plausi!le that mass media may promote "iolence
in "arious instances* To !ein $ith# there are numerous predictors of "iolence in an
indi"idual such as enetics# dru a!use# mental illnesses and "iolent peers amon
others %2ryant , Oli"er# 2''()* 6dditionally# it has not !een pro"en !eyond
reasona!le dou!t that "iolent !eha"iour occurs amon all people that $atch "iolent
content on mass media* +urther more# it has not !een clearly esta!lished that
parta1ers of non"iolent content on mass media are completely incapa!le of enain
in "iolence* Therefore# it may !e important $hich indi"iduals are at ris1 for "iolent
!eha"iour upon e3posure to mass media "iolence as $ell as the conditions
necessary to e"o1e "iolence from them*
+eruson# C* J*# , -il!urn# J* %2''.)* The pu!lic health ris1s of media "iolence= 6
metaFanalytic re"ie$* The Journal of paediatrics# 154%G)# HG.FHIJ*
2ryant# J*# , Oli"er# M* 2* %2''()* Media effects: Advances in theory and research*
&!arra# M* <*# 5ienerF/est# M*# Mar1o$# 5*# <eaf# 0* J*# ;am!urer# M*# , 2o3er# 0*
%2''()* <in1aes !et$een Internet and other media "iolence $ith seriously
"iolent !eha"ior !y youth* Paediatrics# 122%G)# .2.F.JH*
Sa"ae# J*# , &ancey# C* %2''()* The Dffects of Media Violence D3posure on
Criminal 6ression 6 MetaF6nalysis* Criminal Justice and Behavior# 5%I)#
;opf# /* ;*# ;u!er# K* <*# , /eir# R* ;* %2''()* Media "iolence and youth "iolence= 6
2Fyear lonitudinal study* Journal of Media Psycholo!y: Theories" Methods"
and Applications# 2#%J)# H.*
Murray# J* 0* %2''()* Media "iolence the effects are !oth real and stron* American
Behavioural $cientist# 51%()# :2:2F:2J'*