Understanding The Problem Essay, Research Paper
Understanding the Problem
“Video games are not the source of violence in our society”, says the president of the Interactive Digital Software Association Doug Lowenstein, “That’s like blaming illiteracy on television. It’s time we look at availability of guns and dysfunctional families as the source of violence-not games (Goodstein).” Entertainment producers argue that it is not their responsibility, but the responsibility of the parents to make sure that their own children are not exposed to media that would be considered as violent or damaging to their own kids. The media believes they are the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong with today’s society. Doug Lowenstein stated:
“When people speak of violence there are speaking of video game playing, action-movie watching, and playground karate chopping as violence, as if they were somehow the same as genuine acts of destruction. Pretend violence is not real violence. It doesn’t cause real violence. If we fail to keep real distinctions in mind, if we allow our emotions to blur the distinction between what is real and what is not, then we only make it harder to deal with real violence in a real way (Goodstein).”
The Federal Trade Commissioners, the FTC over past years have been attacking violent and inappropriate behavior found in the media. The FTC is shocked to discover that children like violent entertainment. The FTC feels that it must be because companies are manipulating them through deceptive marketing. But, many media producers feel that the FTC is wrong for two reasons. The producers feel that the facts and the First Amendment are on their side(Rosenberg 182). In a debate done in late 1998 the head chairman for the FTC spoke and he agreed with the media producers views. In his remarks, FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said “Although scholars and observers generally have agreed that exposure to violence in entertainment media alone does not cause a child to commit a violent act, there is widespread agreement that it is, nonetheless, a cause for concern (190).” Later in his speech he also agrees that the majority of the violent acts that are committed have no link between violent media.
Concerned American citizens should also look to other countries and their views on violence in the media. Some other countries promote violence in the media and in fact have a less violent society. Countries such as Japan, who produces the most violent media in the world have is considered to have one of the most non-violent societies. Japan is famous for creating action and martial arts movies, extremely violent video games, and violent cartoons known as japanimations or anime (Tepperman). Schools in Japan also support the education of some form of martial arts. “It is ironic to see a country such as ours, who is strongly against any support violent media but also has an extremely violent society,” an anonymous American video game producer remarks, “and then see a country like Japan who is not against violent and has a society that is almost non-violent compared to ours.(Goodstein)”
Other countries such as Canada also have a less violent society then America. In 1996 the number of people that were killed by guns in the United States were an estimated 17,000 it makes America seem like the murder capitol of the world when its compared to Canada’s 68 and its even worse when its compared to Australia’s 10 (Cesarone 88). Producers from all aspects of the media agree that they are not to blame and the facts are on their side.
Parents have their own views on the topic also. Although, a majority parents feel that media is the cause of violent behavior among their children, there are many parents that believe otherwise. Michael Dyson a college professor and a parent of three remarks on the topic:
“Today’s parents are naive and ignorant to the fact that they do not know how to regulate the things their children watch and they cannot control their own kids behavior so the immediately point the blame on someone else. Television cannot be solely blamed for youth violence. Kids who don’t have a solid family and community value system to anchor them – they’re the ones who are influenced by TV. They are living with a parent who is overwhelmed; they are disconnected from a cultural, religious or ethnic set of beliefs. So they learn how the world works from TV.(Garbariono 154)”
I was able to relate to Michael Dyson’s beliefs’ first hand. Over the summer I worked at a day camp, where parents could just drop off their kids and leave them there until they got off of work. After a few weeks of working at the day camp, I noticed that the more violent kids were the ones that didn’t have a solid family. The parents that dropped the kids off an hour earlier and an hour late had the most violent children.
Failing to teach children right from wrong is the fundamental reason for the spread of juvenile violence. Kids need learn responsibility, and they need constant praise and punishment to learn right from wrong. It is reasonable that the industry take on even more responsibility for educating adults about a game’s contents so they can decide if it’s appropriate for their child. For responsible parents, the process of raising children includes making decisions on when their children are ready for the thousands of milestones of growing up. When to let them date, when to let them stay out late, and when to let them watch the R rated movies and play the M rated games that the parents enjoy. It’s important that we respect the rights of adults to make clear choices for their children’s entertainment.
Cesarone, Barry. Media and Society. Toronto, Clarke. 1994. 80-92.
Garbarino, Jeff. Raising Children in a Violent Society. San Francisco. 1995. 151-156.
Goodstein, Laurie. “Industry Defends Violent Games.” The New York Times, 30 April 1998, A1.
Rosenberg, Howard. Violence the Media and Our Children. New York, Harcourt. 1998. 181-209.
Tepperman, Jean. What children learn from media violence. January 1997.