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The Influence of Violent Media on Teen Violence

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The Influence of Violent Media on Teen Violence Back to over two thousand years ago, Socrates once wrote: “Our youth now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders, and love to chatter in place of exercise.” Truly teenage rebellion has been around for a long time. Teenage is one of the most dynamic period in our life. People change the most while they are teens, both physically and emotionally. Unlike adults, teenagers may not be aware the consequence of their rebellious acts. When it comes to extreme act of rebellion it becomes violence. Teen violence comes in many forms and vary degrees. For example, verbal abuse, bully, physical fight, gang violence, and assault with or without weapons are the most common violent behavior among teenagers. Teen violence is a growing concern in our society. People often hear teenagers bullying, teenagers involved in violent crimes on the news. According to Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, about 20% of high school students report being bullied on school property in the U.S. in 2009 (8). One third of students had been in a physical fight in the last twelve months (6). For many teenagers, violence is a way to release anger and express freedom. All parents want their teens away from violent behavior. Before we can find solutions for the youths, we need to figure out why is teen violence happening? What makes teenagers turn to violence? There’re always have different and more than one reason that make teenager becomes violence, in the following paragraph, we’re going to focus on one: the media influence. The influence of media violence is the main reason why youth turn into violence. Media violence is a contributing factor to an increase in aggressive and anti-social behavior. Among all of the media influence, television is one of the most prevalent media in our life. Nearly all families in the U.S. have televisions at home today. On average, more than half kids have a TV in their bedroom (Beresin, par. 2). By the the age of eighteen years old, the average American kid will have witnessed more than 200,000 violent acts on television, including 16,000 murders (par. 2). For all those kids who constantly exposed to violent television programs, it may increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior on reality. Further, studies of the violent media effects on teens show the negative effects of exposure to violent media on either long-term or short-term influence: Media violence produces short-term increases by priming existing aggressive scripts and cognitions, increasing physiological arousal, and triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors. Media violence produces long-term effects via several types of learning processes leading to the acquisition of lasting (and automatically accessible) aggressive scripts, interpretational schemas, and aggression-supporting beliefs about social behavior, and by reducing individuals' normal negative emotional responses to violence (i.e., desensitization)... (Anderson et al. 81)
All of that means the teens will subtly influenced by violent media, even if they’re not aware of it. Consequently, the impact of exposure to television violence on teenagers may lead them to simulate the violent behavior in real life. Video gaming is another great media impact on teenagers. Video gaming is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in our life. To many young people, video gaming may play an important role in their everyday life. Among all of the best selling video games, it’s not hard to notice that nearly all of them contain violent elements such as killing, fighting, and shooting. In order to figure out the relationship between violent video gaming and violent behavior, I interviewed my friend Steven Chan, 20, who is a video game lover. When asking if there’re any aggressive behaviors occurred after playing video games, Steven recalled that he was once broke his keyboard into half while playing an online game. He was so furious because of his cheating opponent and finally lost control and broke the poor keyboard after hours game playing. Moreover, Steven said that he was more annoyed and easily angered while playing violent video games. For example, he was annoyed at being interrupted by his parents asking him to leave the controller or the keyboard. In other words, no one can ask him to put down the controller unless he is voluntarily quit the game. In the case of Steven, we can tell that young people like Steven can easily obsessed with video gaming. Therefor, because violence are the most popular contents on video games, teenagers are more likely to exposure to violence by playing video games.

In addition, video gaming is so obsessed that people are not always play for a while but often play for hours. Unlike watching TV, video games require people actively play a role in the game’s script. In other words, people need to pay constant attention to the game in order to control the character. This may explain why so many people are absorbed deeply in playing video games that they do not aware of how much time has been passed. In a studies of violent video game impact on teenagers states the negative effects on the teens who spend excessive time playing violent video games. For example, teens are tend to be more aggressive, more prone to confrontation with their teacher, and more engage in fight with their peers (Gentile et al. 5). We can learn from the studies that excessive video gaming will increase the chance of violent behavior on teenagers.

Another research study also confirm that youth may be more violent by playing violent video games. A research at the Indiana University of Medicine is using state-of-the-art brain-scanning technology to scan the brain of two group of teenagers. Both group are playing a half-hour video game. One group is playing violent game and the other is playing non-violent game. The research shows increase activity in the amygdala on the teens who play violent game. What this means is that “brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal – and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention” (Kalning, par. 2). Base on the study, we can get the idea of how violent video game can change our brain and behavior.

In conclusion, media plays an important role in our life. However, violent media such as violent television programs and violent video games make a massive impact on teenagers. Although media violence is not the only cause of violent behavior, it has a great influence on it. Teenager may become aggression or even violence after constantly watching violent TV shows or playing violent video games excessively. Teens who expose to more violent contents are more likely to develop violent behavior. To all the parents who are concern about their children, instead of scold and criticize, communication will do a better job on violent video game regulation.

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