One aspect of American culture I feel is in need of change is desensitization to violence. There are many negative effects on society as a result of violence in the news, video games, and other types of media. There are many controversies surrounding media violence, as mass shootings become more common it seems as though not only video games, but desensitization of society to violence through media and other outlets may be to blame.
Mass shootings, rape, hate, and other violent crimes are in the news every day, so much so that in the minds of some, the perpetrators get fame while the victims lie in silence. The offenders of violent crime are studied, pictured in the media hundreds of times, remembered for their crime, and sometimes, Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer for example, are made into movies decades later. Many serial killers, actively engage with the media and create their own public image in order to become celebrities, and use the media as part of their “game” (Bonn). For some, media attention may be a reason to commit crime. Whether they are crying for help or eliciting fear in others, they know that if they do something big it will attract attention to them.
Children and teens are very susceptible to influence, and there are a multitude of realistic-looking, violent war and fighting games that are being marketed and sold to the younger population. Not only is the violence causing a disconnect between the game, and the reality of the destruction live weapons and violence can do, but communication within the games teaches aggression that translates offline. Through some of these games youth have the ability to easily connect with others who play the game. Games allow instant messaging and voice chatting with other gamers who are complete strangers.
This type of communication allows people to hide behind the game while talking violently and often using profanity, inappropriate words, and even threatening each other. Youth are learning to speak to complete strangers aggressively during games and transferring that aggression and other antisocial tendencies to reality when the game ends. The communication style within certain parts of the gaming community increases the aggressiveness and intensity of the game that the game itself, but may cause other psychological issues if the players are made fun of or threatened.
According to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, “youth exposed to violent media tend to become more aggressive immediately after exposure, and become more aggressive adults” (Carnagey, Anderson, & Bushman 2007). While media is not a direct cause of criminal behavior, it is proven to be a risk factor among other variables. Some of the variables that influence violent, criminal behavior are “low IQ, abusive parents, exposure to antisocial peers, and being from a broken home,” but the effect of violent television exposure at an early age has been proven to have a greater effect (Carnagey, Anderson, & Bushman 2007). While violence in media alone is unlikely to cause youth to have the tendency to be more aggressive, those who are at-risk because of other influencers are more likely to commit violent crimes than others.
The way the media creates celebrities from the most violent criminals, violence and aggressive speech while playing video games, and violence becoming prominent in other media such as television and movies have all contributed to the desensitization to violence in society as a whole and influenced the psychological wellbeing of youth in a negative way.
- The Impact of Media Violence on Children and Adolescents: Opportunities for Clinical Interventions
- Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions
- The Link Between Violence and Junk Food
- Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature
- Media Senstaionalism and Asylum Seekers