Media Violence, Moral Panics and Videogames

Normative Research into Media and Culture • Columbine and Moral Panics • A look at the various contexts and contents of violent media .Introduction • Behavioural Research into Media Effects vs.

.The Media Effects Tradition • Based on behvaioural research – Focus on quantitative. however. are less equipped with existing values and beliefs. observable and generalisable effects • Media effects generally limited by selective perception shaped by existing values/beliefs • Children.

Behavioural Media Effects. Violence and Children Behavioural studies have shown that receptiveness to violence is influenced by a) The nature of the depicted aggression b) The gender of the child c) The tendency of the child to seek ‘sensations’ d) The aggression levels of the child • Empirical research into violent video games has shown that playing video games lowers players empathy and reaction to violence • But the overwhelming conclusion is that violent media does NOT CAUSE violent behaviour .

Minnesota 2005) – 16 year old killed 9 people then himself – http://www.newgrounds. then themselves – The students concerned played Doom and Wolfenstein 3D – Had computer playing privileges progressively revoked following behavioural problems • Red Lake Massacre (Red Lake.com/portal/view /195194 . Colorado 1999) – 2 students shot and killed 13.Violent games get some bad press… • Columbine High School Shootings (Littleton.

And we're going to have to start dealing with that. You cannot tell me -common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games.Dr Phil and Moral Panics [T]he problem is we are programming these people as a society.com/games/2007/04/dr_phil_also_bl. a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage. You take that and mix it with a psychopath.html . where they're on a mass killing spree in a video game. it's glamorized on the big screen. http://blog.wired. it's become part of the fibre of our society. the suggestibility is too high. We're going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murders of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.

Considering the wider social context .

Normative Research on media effects • Asks – what about the context of these signs? – (remember the difference between European and American research traditions?) • Questions whether the categories of violence selected in Behavioural Studies are ever sophisticated enough to be helpful .

interlocking structures. (Halloran 1978: 817. political and economic frameworks. quoted in Cunningham 1992: 143) .Normative Research on media effects • Asks that violence be viewed within a wider social and cultural context – Our societies are complex. and this means that we should not attempt to study any single institution or social process in isolation. The problem of media violence should be studied in relation to other institutions and to violence in society as a whole. and it should be set within the appropriate social.

socioeconomic group) – Implies causation where it identifies correlation – Often fails to critique officially sanctioned violence – Contributes to moral panic .In summary • Behavioural media effects research is subject to the following general criticisms (from Cunningham 1992) – Generally does not consider the textual context of the violence – Assumes children and viewers to be naïve cultural dupes – Fails to consider other factors which contribute to violent behaviour (personal experience.

Where to next? • A more thorough and open classification system .

Where to next? • A focus on modelling the correct behaviour – As a society/culture – As parents • A rejection of moral panic – The average age of a computer game player in Australia is 29 – Implies a general lack of respect towards children (and their parents) – We have real issues with violence to deal with and undermining the ability to confront violence and communicate about it might not be the smartest thing to do .