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Tv Violence Essay Research Paper Violence on

Tv Violence Essay, Research Paper

Violence on Tv

Most people in our society generally have the opinion that violence on television

increases aggression in children and adolescents. Does it ? Who is to say whether

television has a positively direct effect or a positive correlation ? However, the majority

of the people who have researched this topic have discovered that violence on television

is indeed one of the prime factors contributing to the increase in violent and aggressive

behavior among the youth in society. That is to say “there has been a growth of strong

evidence to suggest that television violence does play an important and contributory part

in the learning of aggression.” In other words, violence in the media helps promote and

encourage children and adolescents to freely express their abusive behavior. As a result,

the topic of my essay will help support the issue that violence in the media causes

abusive behavior in youths. Furthermore, I will emphasize if their are any differences in

aggressive behavior between the genders.

By nature when babies first begin to learn, they do so by imitating other people’s

behaviors. That is to say, “children are born ready to imitate adult behavior” because

“much of human behavior is learned by observing another person’s behavior and, in some

cases, imitating it.” One of the first imitation of a newborn baby is the imitation of adults’

facial movements. For example, in the book Infant and Child, by Judith Rich Harris and

Robert M. Liebert, “it shows a baby girl only six days old sticking out her tongue in

imitation of her mother’s actions.” This clearly shows that from the moment a child is

born, he or she is already learning from observing. Therefore, as the child grows up and

starts watching television, the child can not distinguish between what is reality and what

is fantasy. “In the minds of young children, television is a source of entirely factual

information regarding how the world works.” For instance, as a child I could remember

imitating violent acts after watching violent movies such as Superman, Star Wars, Star

Trek, and Rocky. It felt fun to imitate these so called heroes because it seemed like the

characters in the movies were invincible. Moreover, the main characters in the movies

were always liked and respected.

There are many other examples that confirm that people imitate violence scenes

on television. For instance, the cartoon Beavis and Butthead on MTV in the United States

was widely criticized for depicting the cartoon characters shaped like cigarettes. The

cartoon also gained national attention when a young five year old fan from the United

States set fire to his house after watching the show. This was due to the fact that in one of

the episodes, Beavis and Butthead were going around setting fires to houses.

Furthermore, in a resent incident in Norway, two children beat another child by

jumping and kicking the child in the head and other parts of her body numerous times. As

a result, the child died from being left out in the cold because she was not able to move

due to her injuries. Later the officials had discovered that the barbaric incident was due

to the fact that the children had watched the violent cartoon Mighty Morphin Power

Rangers. The children thought that the girl would later get up because in the show the

characters never die. Consequently, the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was

canceled throughout Norway. In addition, YTV, a youth cable channel in Canada and

also other television networks has recently canceled the show because it did not meet

their standards.

Children are not the only ones who get influenced by violence in the media. Many times

adolescents and young adults also mimic violence portrayed in the media. In another

recent incident in the United States, a young man after seeing the movie Natural Born

Killer starring Woody Harrelson shaved his head to look like the main character and shot

his parents. This definitely proves that children are not the only ones who try to imitate

violent behaviors.

Many studies have been conducted to determine if in fact people imitate or model

aggressive behaviors. For example, one of the most well know studies of modeling

aggressive behavior and to determine if children imitate violent acts observed on

television is an experiment done by Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross and Sheila A. Ross.

To test their hypothesis, the subjects were divided into three experimental groups and one

control group. One group observed real-life aggression, the second group observed the

same models but on film and the third group watched an aggressive cartoon. The groups

were also subdivided into male and female subjects so that half the subjects were

exposed to the same sex models, while the other half viewed model of the opposite sex.

After the subjects were exposed to aggression, they were tested for the amount of

imitation and non-imitation aggression. As a result, the boys were significantly more

aggressive than the girls. Gender was also positively correlated with imitative aggression

and the subjects tended to imitate the same sex models more than the opposite sex.

In addition, Bandura, Ross and Ross had predicted that the subjects who saw aggressive

behavior being displayed would consequently be more aggressive when frustrated than

the subjects who were as frustrated but had not been exposed to prior aggression. The

experiment confirmed their prediction. One of the finding of the experiment was that the

sex of the child and the sex of the model provides support that the models influence is

somewhat determined by the gender of the model. Also, the experiment has strong

evidence that children who are exposed to film aggression will have their aggressive

behavior increased. The findings also show that children tend to model their aggression

after social behavior particularly that which is seen on television. Their conclusion can

also imply that children who observe aggression in real-life situations, will tend to be

more aggressive than children who live in an aggressive environment.

Another example of modeling aggressive behavior in television is the study as

reported in The Impact of Television (1986) where Tannis Williams and her associates at

the University of British Columbia studied a rural community which was recently

introduced to television compared to two rural communities that already had television

and high levels of aggression. The observation was conducted after the first community

had television for two years. The subjects were forty-five first and second grade students.

After the two year period, William and her associates had concluded that the aggression

among children in the first community increased by 160 percent whereas in the other

communities the aggression levels remained the same. One can infer from this study that

television has an impact on children reenacting the violent behaviors.

Moreover, Brandan S. Centerwall in Television and Violent Crime studies the

crime rates in the United States, Canada and South Africa between the years 1945 to

1974 when South Africa did not have television whereas both the United States and

Canada had television. His results concluded that the “homicide rate in the United States

increased by 93 percent [and] in Canada the homicide rate increased 92 percent. In South

Africa the homicide rate declined by 7 percent.”

In fact, in 1982 the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMB) did a study to

conclude if violence on television increases hostile behaviors in people. They also

determined that people will imitate the violent acts seen in the media. In addition, the

NIMB reported “that television violence causes aggression, and that a distorted world

presented on television causes heavy viewers to see the real world as more hostile and

scary than it really is.”

What gender is more likely to imitate aggressive behavior? It is generally agreed

that boys are more naturally aggressive than girls. In fact, Bandura, Ross and Ross have

concluded that boys are more likely to imitate violent behavior and their aggression

comes forth more when it is stimulated by outside models. “The tendency for boys to be

more aggressive than girls is the largest and most consistent gender difference in

behavior, and is quite clear by the age or 2 or 2 1/2.” Moreover, the effects of television

watching on children’s aggressiveness was studied by Leonard Eron, of the University of

Illinois. He concluded that boys were significantly more aggressive than girls after

watching violent shows. Ten years later, he conducted a study on the same children when

they were nineteen years old. This time there was no correlation between television

viewing and aggressive behavior although there was a positive correlation between the

boys television viewing habit at the age of nine and their aggressive behavior and age

nineteen. “Thus, for boys (though not for girls), watching violent TV shows at age 9

appeared to lead to an increase in aggressiveness at age 19.”

In short, most of the evidence shown throughout the essay concludes that the

media indeed increases violent and aggressive behaviors in people. Therefore, with this

available information, why do parents let their children watch these violent movies and

television shows? The television networks and movie producers should not be the only

ones blamed for violent scenes. The real blame should be directed at the parents. In

addition, “limiting children’s exposure to television violence should become part of the

public health agenda.”

Bandura, Albert, Dorothea Ross and Sheila A. Ross. Imitation of Film-Mediated

Aggressive Models in Notable Selections in Psychology. Guilford, Ct.

Tv Violence Essay Research Paper Violence onushkin

Publishing Group, 1994, pp. 133-140.

Barcus, F. Earle, Ph.D. Images of Life on Children’s Television: sex roles,

minorities and families. New York: Praeger, 1983.

Barlow Geoffrey and Alison Hill. Video Violence and Children. New York :

Hodder and Stoughton Limited, 1985.

Centerwall, S. Brandon. Television and Violent Crime in The Public Interest Vol.

No. 111, pp.56-71 Spring ‘93, New York.

Cook D. Thomas, Deborah A. Kendzierski and Stephan V. Thomas. The Implicit

Assumption of Television Research: an analysis of the 1982 NIMH report on television

and behavior in The Public Opinion Quarterly Vol.47 pp.161-201 Summer ‘83. New


Harris, Rich Judith and Robert M. Liebert. Infant & Child: Development From

Birth Through Middle Childhood. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1992.

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