Why is there so much violence in the world today
Ever since the beginning of television there has been some sort of violent exploitation. A good example of violence in the early days would be old westerns. As time went on and television progressed more violent programs came about. Now the media is a good source of seeing violence. These days children like to see violence. Over time this will have negative effects on their minds. The media encourages violence to children. The entertainment media plays a powerful role in the formation of values and morals in children. It seems that minority groups or athletes are usually targeted.
Why do children kill? “It’s clear that kids who grow up surrounded by violence–on the street, in the home, on the tube, in electronic games–become less sensitive to it … and there’s no question that when children have access to firearms the odds of a tragedy rise”(Children 1) . There are many things that can influence a child’s behavior, but we will only focus on the entertainment industry: television, wrestling, and video games.
Television violence affects youngsters of all ages. Today, children and teenagers are subjected to vast amounts of violence on television and in the movies. Because young children cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, they are easily influenced by what they see in the media. “Children are visual learners and they model both positive and negative behaviors they see.” (Effects/Video)
The impact of television violence may be immediately evident in the child’s behavior or may surface years later. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, when children see super heroes beating villains with violence, they learn that fighting is the preferred method to resolve the conflict.
The American Psychological Association estimates that the average American child or teenager views 10,000 murders, rapes and aggravated assaults per year on television. Over 1,000 studies and reviews have found that exposure to heavy dose of television violence increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Hundreds of studies on the effects of television violence on children and teenagers have found that children may become “immune” to the horror of violence; gradually they accept violence as a way to solve problems, imitate the violence they observe on television, and identify with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers (Yim 1).
Violence used to resolve a conflict is evident in the movie “Home Alone”. Kevin, the main character, performs numerous acts of violence to defend his home and scare away the intruders. These acts of violence appear to be very real and could potentially hurt someone. The movie however, does not display the harmful effects violence can have on a person. Instead, violence seems to be portrayed as something humorous and children have a reason to laugh at an individual who inflicts deadly force onto another person.
MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead” is another example of a program that contains excessive amounts of violence. The program encourages fire, smoking, foul language, drinking, and stealing. Although the message is clear to an adult, that a person will be labeled as a “butthead” if he/she performs these acts, it is not so clear to children. As stated earlier, children are visual learners and because the characters in the program believe that violence is cool way to solve their problems, the children are inclined to perform these acts.
As a result of watching too much violence on the screen, children have been known to use physical or verbal abuse toward others on the playground or at school. Children may also become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. Viewing violence encourages children to see other people as enemies rather than as individuals with thoughts and feelings like themselves. Children who cannot put themselves in others’ shoes may become less desirable playmates.
In recent years, the entertainment industry saw the booming and revitalization of professional wrestling. Professional wrestling is so popular today that it has dominated ABC’s Monday Night Football and the NBA Playoffs in terms of ratings. Professional wrestling continuously tops the charts among cable programming. In spite of all this, what is happening to America’s youth? Vince McMahon, the chairman and owner of the World Wrestling Federation, reports that 15% of his audience are 11 years old and under. Another 15% are between 12 and 17 years old. Adults from 18 years and older comprise the other 70% of the total viewers. McMahon notes his television shows are rated TV14. However, what happens to the 15%, or one million viewers of his audience who are 11 years old and under? (Yim 1)
Some people blame professional wrestling as the cause for an increase in violence among children. The two top organizations today are the WWF and its rival, World Championship Wrestling. WCW is a little more toned down than the WWF. In either case, violence is available to children across America every Monday night. In one episode of WCW, “Macho Man” Randy Savage attacked an opponent and his valets, Miss Madness and Gorgeous George, jumped off a turnbuckle onto his opponent and choked him out with a heel. (Yim 1)
Today’s version of professional wrestling, WWF in particular, is more violent, sexual, and vulgar than ever before. Many pediatricians and parents argue that wrestling is teaching children at a young age everything that is bad in society. Is it acceptable to make racial stereotypes? Is it acceptable to make crude remarks? Is it acceptable to have children say, “Kiss my ass” or “Suck it”? In a shocking study of 50 episodes done by an Indiana University-Inside Edition, there were “1,658 instances of grabbing or pointing to one’s crotch, 157 instances of an obscene finger gesture, 128 episodes of simulated sexual activity, and 21 references to urination.” (Yim 1) In other episodes of the controversial wrestling shows, a mock crucifixion, S;M scenes, wrestlers mooning others and a woman sucking on an Italian sausage were shown. (Yim 1)
Some of the characters depicted on WWF television advertise a type of message not meant for children. The character Val Venis, portrays a former film star that gyrates over opponents in the ring. Then, there is the Undertaker who portrays every bit of evil as a messenger of death. Val Venis’ friend is the Godfather who portrays a pimp. Before every match, a few ho’s (whores) accompany him to the ring. Finally, there is Debra, who uses sex by stripping to her underwear on television to distract an opponent. Even more shocking is the way her breasts have come to be known as “puppies”. Therefore, besides violence, kids are exposed to sex and death on television. In fact, Rena Mero, a former WWF employee, recently filed suit claiming that the WWF had become “obscene and violent”.
Although professional wrestling has been on television for years, the biggest controversy occurred regarding a WWF commercial aired during the 1999 Super Bowl. Many claim it was indecent and shouldn’t have been aired during the Super Bowl. In this commercial, the WWF’s first Super Bowl commercial, WWF wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin says that the WWF is “a nonviolent form of entertainment.” He then slams a person with a chair. In addition, Sable, a former WWF employee, says “We never use sex to enhance our image.” In the background, a woman is seen on a desk with her legs around a man’s waist. The commercial is controversial because it was aired during the afternoon/early evening hours and on a day which usually draws the biggest television audience of the year.
As mentioned, there have been many violent school shootings across America recently. Is professional wrestling to blame? In the Littleton, Colorado school shootings, it was reported that both the killer and victims watched wrestling. In the early 1990s, professional wrestling started airing in Israel. Due to this, violent behaviors increased among third through sixth graders. When airtime was decreased, violence also decreased. Howard Spivak, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ task force on violence believes “kids don’t always differentiate fantasy from reality”.
Many experts believe violence is learned through environmental factors. One of these factors is the exposure to violent video games. The video game industry has gotten so big that they’re only behind television as the most popular form of entertainment in homes. Parents worry that kids may be vulnerable to learning the bad things being portrayed in violent video games.
A high school shooting in Littleton, Colorado raised a controversial question concerning the effects of violent video games and their influences on children. In addition to other forms of media, many parents and teachers blame the exposure to violent video games on children as the cause of their violent actions. One thing certain is both killers of the Littleton, Colorado shooting played a violent video game named Doom. There are indications that video game exposures do have some, if not a lot, effect on the actions of these two killers.
Two of the most famous theme parks in the United States are taking action in their efforts to reduce teenage violence through video games. Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland (both located in California) are unplugging their arcade games that consist of killing or intense violence. They believe that by reducing the exposure of violent video games to young kids, violence anxiety will be reduced.
Many video games today are very graphical. The two games having the most criticism are Doom and Quake. In these games, players are in a first person perspective, controlling every move and turn of the character they are playing and blasting the guts out of their enemies with an array of weapons. “You can actually set the gore level of some of [these games],” notes Jeff Inman, a specialist in youth intervention in Cobb County, Georgia (Nordan). Kids can actually choose the level of intensity and how much blood they want to see coming out of their enemies. The violence does not end here. Racist versions of Doom also exist, with a plug-in that changes the color of the victims. For example, the victim can be blue-colored.
In addition, there are many video games on Playstation and Nintendo 64 featuring violence as their primary game content. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, King of Fighters, etc. are just a few of a whole list of fighting games available today. Perhaps the most controversial fighting game is Mortal Kombat, which features intense violence with blood and body parts falling off. An average teenager spends 2-3 hours a day playing video games. The electronic-games industry posted sales of $5.5 billion in the U.S. in 1998. According to one survey, 9 out of 10 U.S. households with children have rented or owned a video or computer game.
There is no clear-cut answer to whether violence in video games directly affects a child’s behavior because there are no proven facts that support these claims. However, there are patterns that suggest more interaction with violence will lead to violent actions.
The government has taken action to reduce the amount of violence in video games by urging game makers to reduce the content of violence in their games and passing laws that restrict the purchase of extreme violent graphic games by younger kids.
It’s a fact that violence is everywhere these days. It’s on the streets, in homes, in video games, and in the movies. It is up to adults to set an example for children and to protect them from any form of violence. When children are young, parents can take steps to reduce or minimize the amount of violence their children are exposed to. Parents can build a strong, loving, relationship with their child. Because of this type of relationship, children will feel safe and secure. It’ll also help them develop a sense of trust. Children often learn by example. Adults can show children appropriate behaviors by the way they act. Be firm with children about using violent behavior. Praise children when they display good behavior. Children tend to repeat good behaviors when they are rewarded with attention and praise. Parents could discuss problems with them, ask them to consider what might happen if they use violence to solve problems, and talk about what might happen if they solve problems without violence.
There are warning signs in toddlers and preschool children when they are too aggressive or have been exposed to violence. They have many tantrums in a single day or several lasting more than 15 minutes, and often cannot be calmed by parents, family members, or other caregivers. They have many aggressive outbursts, often for no reason. They are extremely active, impulsive, and fearless. They consistently refuse to follow directions and listen to adults; they don’t not seem attached to parents, and frequently watch violence on television, engages in play that has violent themes, or is cruel toward other children.
There are warning signs in school-aged children. They have trouble paying attention and concentrating; they often disrupt classroom activities; They do poorly in school; Sometimes they frequently gets into fights with other children in school; react to disappointments, criticism, or teasing with extreme and intense anger, blame, or revenge; watch many violent television shows and movies or plays a lot of violent video games; have few friends, and is often rejected by other children because of his or her behavior; make friends with other children known to be unruly or aggressive; consistently do not listen to adults; is not sensitive to the feelings of others; is cruel or violent toward pets or other animals; and is easily frustrated.
There are warning signs for preteens and teenage adolescents. They don’t listen to authority figures. pay no attention to the feelings or rights of others; mistreat people and seems to rely on physical violence or threats of violence to solve problems; often express the feeling that life has treated him or her unfairly; do poorly in school and often skips class; miss school frequently for no identifiable reason; gets suspended from or drops out of school; joins a gang, gets involved in fighting, stealing, or destroying property; drinks alcohol and/or uses inhalants or drugs.
Violence in the media is not the only source for aggressive or violent behavior, but it is a significant contributor. As a parent, you can protect your children from excessive violence in the media by setting limits on the amount of time they spend in front of the television; making sure you know what shows your children watch, which movies they see, and what kind of video games they play; talking to your children about the violence that they see on television shows, in movies, and in video games; refusing to let your children see shows known to be violent and explaining to them why; and getting them involved in clubs, sports, or hobbies.
There is a new technology that can help parents censor shows on television. “The v- chip, technology that allows parents to block objectionable programs, is now available in at least half of all new television sets. V-chip work with an electronically coded rating system that already is in place to identify programs that contain sex, violence or crude language. A 1996 telecommunications law required all new TV sets 13 inches and larger to come with the technology by 2000.”
Playing video games can have a lot of positive effects. Video game playing introduces children to computer technology. Games can give practice in following directions. Some games provide practice in problem solving and logic. Games can provide practice in use of fine and spatial skills. Games can provide occasions for parents and child to play together. Players are introduced to information technology. Some games have therapeutic applications with patients. Overall they are entertaining and fun. Video games relieve tension and boredom. They develop gaming skills and when you play you develop a sense of mastery. A lot of people have opposite views of these facts. They think this only happens with non violent video games. Most of the positive effects don’t come from violent video games. They also believe the positive effects come out when parents monitor video game playing.
The media is a very responsible source for distributing violence to children. The most popular uses television, wrestling, and video games. People think it is okay for the violence. These types of media have positive and negative effects. By monitoring children’s exposure to violence from entertainment, parents can prevent the onset of violent behavior resulting from this exposure. The government and the entertainment industry can also work together to decrease the violent act shown, change the way violence is portrayed, they should show all consequences, and implement the v-chip into every television as soon as possible. Today kids are lured in by video games and television. From this the media encourages violence and has negative effects toward children. It is hard to stay away from these things. We must stay strong so the violence won’t get into our minds and change the way we think.