He Hit Me First: Psychological Effect of Violence i

This is a research paper analyzing the psychological effect of violence in the media, more specifically toward children.

He hit me first: Violence in the media and its negative effect on American people

Before graduating from high school, the average American child will have witnessed 8,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television (Violence is Primetime). Of course this is not directly but it is indirectly through TV, movies, video games and other forms of media. The excessive amount of violence in the media is detrimental to our society and the youth. Violence is a definite part of all facets of the mass media, therefore a part of every day life. The way violence is portrayed in the media affects how individuals view violence. Violence in media has been the cause of irrational behavior, crude judgment, and even death. Violence in the media does have an impact on both American adults and youth, and this impact is negative making young people more violent.

Since the invention of video gaming, games have taken a major turn becoming more and more violent. The effects of these violent video games have been terrible, causing children to behave in highly irrational manners. Take for instance the 2004 video game “sparked hammer murder” in London, England (CNN World). A seventeen year-old male plead guilty to the murder of his fourteen year-old friend. The seventeen year old beat the fourteen year old repeatedly with a claw hammer and stabbed him to death, after luring him to a nearby park. Britain’s Daily Mail front page read “Murder by Playstation”. The Parents of the fourteen year old boy said the seventeen year old had been imitating a game called Manhunt, in which the players score points for violent killings. The way which he murdered his is exactly how it is carried out on the game. The seventeen year old snuck up on his friend and struck him with the claw hammer, which was the begging of the prolonged senseless murder. The mother of the killer even stated that her son’s “inherently evil” murder was “obsessed” with the game. The Video game clearly gave the murderer the inspiration on how he could execute the murder.

One may argue that a game can not make anyone commit a murder, which is valid and true. Every sane person has full control over his/her own actions. The game can not give you a motive to commit murder. The motive is a sole product of the person, not the game. Evil dwells within a person and a video game can not create an evil spirit. Therefore, this murder could be argued as self motivated and the video game is not the cause of the murder. Though the video game did not give the killer motive, it did provide him with an idea of how he could execute the murder. He executed the murder just as it is done on the video game, thus making the video more of a reality than a virtual reality.

A study by Norman Herr, Ph. D (Professor of Science Education California State University, Northridge) shows that on average American youth spend nine hundred hours per year in school, and one thousand five hundred hours watching television. Therefore the television is having a greater affect on children than school, which is the foundation of this nation. In another study he found that fifty-three percent of TV broadcasting is devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war. The average child is watching one thousand five hundred hours of TV, so nearly eight hundred of those hours are about violence. The number of hours spent watching violent programming is virtually equal to the amount of time student spend in school. The media is flooded with violent images that influence the psychology of children, bringing forth negative and violent effects.

Television is a potent influence in the development of morals and shaping behavior for children. Studies by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry show that the effects of extensive viewing of television violence by children cause greater aggressiveness. Also, children may: become numb to the horror of violence, gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems, imitate the violence that observe on television, and identify with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers. When a child sees violence that is realistic and frequently repeated and unpunished he/she is more likely to imitate that violence. However, TV violence may be immediately evident in the child’s behavior or may surface years later (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry). These violent images have a long term effect on children that may very well be detrimental to their adulthood.

Just as the visual violence of television has a negative effect on children, the auditory violence of music has the same influence. Music is a very powerful tool “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” (Confucius). Therefore, music with a violent message can have a very negative influence on a child. 50 Cent released a song entitled “I’ll Whoop Your Head Boy”. In this song he describes a typical night out for him and his friends. They all ride around in his car with weapons and are ready to do anything, whether it is robbing, beating, or even killing someone. I had a friend who always listened to that song. The more he got into the song; I began to see his entire attitude change. He became more aggressive, almost as if he was angry, but no one had done anything to him. Often times after he finished listening to the song would say “I feel like whooping somebody ass right now.” Other times, when got in a disagreement with someone he would usually say “I will whoop ya head boy.” If you listen to something repetitively, over a long period of time, it will become ingrained in your mind. That single song had a drastic effect on how he reacted to different situations, because it was a part of his way of thinking. The song planted in him the logic that violence is the only way to solve problems.

Violence has been a part of the media before televisions, movies, radios, and even newsprint. It has been present since there was only word of mouth and live entertainment. Since 2000 B.C violence has been in the media. The ancient Egyptians entertained themselves with plays re-enacting the murder of their god Osiris and history tells us that these violent re-enactment led to a number of copycat killings. (Media awareness network) During the era of Saint Augustine lethal spectator sports were the main attraction of ancient Rome. Saint Augustine expressed immense grief for his society that was addicted to gladiator games. (Media awareness network) For thousands of years the violence in the media has evidently had a negative effect on people, making them more violent and detrimental to society.

Whether the type of media is television, movies, video games, new print, or live entertainment; violence in the media does have an impact on both American adults and youth, and this impact is negative making young people more violent. The youth are flooded with these violent images trough video games that allow players to simulate murders. Children spent almost the equivalent amount of time watching violent programming on television as they do in school. These violent images are ingrained into children’s minds causing psychological problems such as: numbness to the horror of violence, more aggressive behavior, acceptance of violence as means to solve problems, and imitation of violent acts seen on television. Music has the same effect as the television. Children will believe and try to imitate what is said in a song, believing that it is a reality. Being that violence has been a part of the media since ancient Egyptians it has become a tradition of human kind and every generation only carries it on.