The debate on whether media violence causes violent behavior or not is a contested and controversial one. The supporters argue in affirmative, while the critics claim no link exists between the two. Incidences such as racial attacks, school shootings, and mass shootings, especially in the U.S, ignite the conversation about the relationship between media and violence. Modern media content, including video games, cartoons, films, news, and television shows, contain violent scenes such as shooting, murder, rape, physical assaults, and abusive language. There is no enough data on the topic, but the post argues that media violence contributes to violent behavior.
The media encourages violence by demonstrating how to use weapons such as guns and explosives. Multiple YouTube channels teach viewers to use firearms and the most effective gun in different situations. School-going youths whose parents have blocked them from using guns are likely to acquire gun skills through social media and mainstream media. A potential school shooter can be inspired to commit random shooting by watching gun videos. For example, a young person can be hesitant about school shooting due to a lack of gun skills. However, after learning how to use bump stock on YouTube, mass shooting becomes simple and less complicated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2IOZ-5Nk5k. This encourages them to proceed with violence toward fellow students and teachers.
Media violence causes violent behavior by desensitizing violence. Psychologically, violent acts negatively impact the human brain, and those exposed to violence are susceptible to trauma and distress. The element of being traumatized allow individuals to avoid and condemn violence. It keeps people sane.
On the other hand, continued exposure to media violence reduces anxious arousal to violent acts. It undermines sanity, allowing people to witness a murder, assault, or rape without being disturbed. Being “bullet-proof” to trauma promotes violent behavior because a person is comfortable violating or abusing others. For example, a teenage boy in Florida stabbed a young girl more than a hundred times without guilt. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-cheerleader-allegedly-stabbed-114-times-teen-suspect-be-charged-n1268869. Such aggression and brutality towards others stem from continued exposure to violence, whether video games, news or films.
Violence and Lawlessness is Cool
Video games make violence look cool and acceptable, encouraging individuals to engage in similar acts in real life. Video games such as GTA allow players to operate in a lawless society where they can hijack cars, beat the occupants, assault people on the streets, and shoot at the police. The game’s popularity indicates how it arouses players.
Video games give people the freedom to do whatever they want in an unreal world, but few individuals are tempted to replicate the same in real life. The excitement to commit violence and control the outcomes in video games challenges players to take the experience to the next level by challenging authorities or breaking the law. For example, in Florida U.S, a 14-year old girl and a 12-year old boy armed with a stolen AK-47 and a shotgun fired at the police, forcing the latter to shot back, critically injuring the girl. The girl was quoted referencing Grand Theft Auto, stating, “I’m gonna roll this down like GTA”. https://abcnews.go.com/US/12-year-boy-14-year-girl-open-fire/story?id=78037996.
Systematic Abuse and Violations toward a Group
Media violence promotes violent behavior by making people from specific groups, especially minorities, feel deprived and targeted. The media has to report news and emerging issues, including injustices, but the same reporting can ignite violence. For example, in 2016, a shooter killed five Dallas police officers citing payback for police brutality and killings of black people in America. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/us/dallas-police-shooting.html.
The shooter had continuously watched blacks being killed by police without actions taken to address the problem. The anger caused by watching the police mistreat Blacks engulfed the shooter, forcing him to take matters into his own hands. Violence on television shows such as COPS TV and Live PD have a similar psychological impact on broader society. Likewise, hate crime toward Jews in the West have grown in recent times following videos and pictures of Israel’s attacks in Gaza. Watching minorities or people who look like you face persecution and injustice encourages individuals to attack or inflict pain on the other side as a retaliation.
Media violence is not the sole cause of all violent behavior. Still, it is a cause of violent behavior among gullible people who cannot control their emotions, excitements, and thoughts. Although more research is needed on the topic, the impact that media violence has on people’s mind cannot be ignored. Many people can play video games, watch violent movie scenes, or witness brutality in the news but remain sane. However, few individuals will be inspired by media violence to commit crimes, break laws, or inflict pain on others. It could be imprudent to ignore such cases.
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