ON SCREEN VIOLENCE AND IT’S BEHAVIOURAL IMPACT

Exposure to violence in television, movies, video games, cell phones, and on the internet increases the risk of violent behavior on the viewer’s part just as growing up in an environment filled with real violence increases the risk of them behaving violently.

One of the notable changes in our social environment in the 20th and 21st centuries has been the saturation of our culture and daily lives by the mass media. In this new environment radio, television, movies, videos, video games, cell phones, and computer networks have assumed central roles in a child’s daily life. For better or worse the mass media is having an enormous impact on their values, beliefs, and behaviors. Unfortunately, the consequences of one particular common element of the electronic mass media has a significant effect on children’s well-being. Research evidence has been accumulated over the past half-century that exposure to violence on television, movies, and most recently in video games increases the risk of violent behavior on the viewer’s part just as growing up in an environment filled with real violence increases the risk of violent behavior. Correspondingly, the recent increase in the use of mobile phones, text messaging, e-mail, and chat rooms by our youth have opened new venues for social interaction in which aggression can occur and youth can be victimized – new venues that break the old boundaries of family, neighborhood, and community that might have protected our youth to some extent in the past but now the scenario has changed.

SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF VIOLENT MEDIA


The psychological processes that link children\’s exposure to violence with subsequent increases in children\’s aggressive behaviors can be divided into those that produce more immediate but transient short-term changes in behavior and those that produce more delayed but enduring long-term changes in behavior.

Short-term Effects

Most theorists would now agree that the short-term effects of exposure to media violence are mostly due to 1) priming processes, 2) arousal processes, and 3) the immediate mimicking of specific behaviors.

Priming

Priming is the process through which spreading activation in the brain’s neural network from the locus representing an external observed stimulus excites another brain node representing a cognition, emotion, or behaviour. The external stimulus can be inherently linked to a cognition, e.g., the sight of a gun is inherently linked to the concept of aggression. The primed concepts make behaviors linked to them more likely. When media violence primes aggressive concepts, aggression is more likely.

Arousal

To the extent that mass media presentations arouse the observer, aggressive behavior may also become more likely in the short run for two possible reasons- excitation transfer and general arousal. First, a subsequent stimulus that arouses an emotion (e.g., a provocation arousing anger) may be perceived as more severe than it is because some of the emotional response stimulated by the media presentation is miss-attributed as due to the provocation transfer. For example, immediately following an exciting media presentation, such excitation transfer could cause more aggressive responses to provocation.

Mimicry

The third short term process, imitation of specific behaviors, can be viewed as a special case of the more general long-term process of observational learning. In recent years evidence has accumulated that human and primate young have an innate tendency to mimic whomever they observe. Observation of specific social behaviors around them increases the likelihood of children behaving exactly that way. Specifically, as children observe violent behaviour, they are prone to mimic it.

 Long-term effects –

Observational learning

 During early, middle, and late childhood children encode in memory social scripts to guide behaviour though observation of family, peers, community, and mass media. Consequently, observed behaviours are imitated long after they are observed. During this period, children’s social cognitive schemas about the world around them also are elaborated. For example, extensive observation of violence has been shown to bias children’s world schemas toward attributing hostility to others’ actions. Such attributions in turn increase the likelihood of children behaving aggressively.

Desensitization

Long-term socialization effects of the mass media are also quite likely to be increased by the way the mass media and video games affect emotions. Repeated exposures to emotionally activating media or video games can lead to habituation of certain natural emotional reactions. This process is called “desensitization.” Negative emotions experienced automatically by viewers in response to a particular violent or gory scene decline in intensity after many exposures. However, with repeated exposures of this negative emotional response habituates makes the child “desensitized.” They won’t be bothered by sensitive and violent things as they get too prone of seeing them.

Fear

Fear is another result of media violence. Children and adults can become anxious and even traumatized by the violence they see on TV and in movies. Remember the film “Jaws?” Were you afraid to swim in the ocean afterwards? It also restricts children or teenagers to explore many things in a positive view as they already perceive the most negative outcome remembering something awful happening in a movie with a character who tried to do the same thing. This brings a feeling of cowardness amongst the young and no doubt it also encourages low self- confidence. 

SELF HELP

If you think that you frequently get agitated and react to things in a violent way then you need to acknowledge the root cause, you need to know what causes you to act in a such a way and how can you fix that, here’s how;

Where does violence come from?

There are many factors that can make a person behave violently. You might be violent because:

· you’re frustrated, angry or pissed-off.

· you want to control someone else.

· you’re repeating behaviours you’ve learnt from others.

Stopping your own violent behaviour

It’s important to understand that violence isn’t okay, and in most cases is actually illegal. If you’re prone to being violent, there are ways that you can manage your anger and learn how to control your aggressive behaviour:

Think about the people and situations that make you angry. Make a list of all the triggers you can think of. Knowing what they are will make it easier to avoid them.

Try to prepare ahead of time and come up with a plan in case you find yourself in a situation that triggers your anger. Your best option is to remove yourself from that situation, before you do anything violent, until you calm down.

Take an honest look at yourself and your behaviour. Does your behaviour hurt other people and damage your relationships? If it does, it’s worth seeking help.

Talk to someone. It’s hard to deal with anger and violence on your own. You might feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk to someone about your violent behavior, but there are people that can help and that won’t judge you. A counsellor, mental health worker, nurse, doctor or psychologist can help you understand what’s going on and suggest ways to change how you react to things.

PARENTAL GUIDE

Tips to help parents make entertainment choices for their children.

Monitor viewing. Limit the amount of time a child watches television or other media, and limit the type of exposure.

Set location for TVs and computers. Screens, televisions, computers and any other mobile devices should be in areas of the house where parents can supervise, monitor and engage with their children as they engage with media. Screens and devices should not be in bedrooms.

Encourage reading. Children watch less television when they read more. And good readers are also more likely to watch educational programs when they do consume media.

Provide guidance. Parents should watch programs with their children to foster communication and reinforce positive messages. Parents can also buffer negative messages and put them in appropriate contexts.

Set age limits. Do not allow children under age 2 to watch television because it may hamper language development and social interaction.

Limit commercials. Use streaming media services, videos and public television channels to reduce exposure to marketing messages and advertising.

The most common question we hear from educators and policy makers is “Are video games good or bad for children and adolescents?”. Rather, it is more helpful to think in terms of a healthy media diet that incorporates similar properties to a healthy food diet: moderation in amount, consuming more of the helpful and less of the harmful content, and having regard for the age of the consumer. It’s beneficial to be aware about the outcomes violence before it consumes a person’s mind and soul, try to avoid the bad media to maintain your basic sanity. 

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