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Violence In Society Essay, Research Paper


Violence in the Media and its Effects on Society:

Definitions, Effects on Society, Statistics,

and Prevention


This paper discusses the effects of violence in the media and how it effects our society. First a definition of media and violence will be presented. Then an explanation about who violence can effect and what effects of violence are evident in our society today. Finally, various ways of prevention are explored and a discussion of whether these paths are just or appropriate in our present day society.

Violence in the media has been proven to be an ongoing problem in our society. The more relaxed nature that the mass media has been moving toward has caused great disturbances in the minds of the people in our society. In order to understand this problem, if there is one, we must first define what exactly the mass media and violence are. Next, we must see how it effects the people that watch it and examine the statistics to back this up. Then, we will see why our society is attracted to violence. Finally, we should look to see if the ways that we are addressing this problem are actually helping to resolve it.


Mass Media

Mass media is defined as ?those means of communication that reach and influence large numbers of peoples, especially newspapers, popular magazines, radio, and television? (McKechnie 1976). This means that not only is television at fault for infecting our society, but that everything from movies to comic books are as well (Larsen 1968).


Violence is defined as ?to assault; to injure; also, to bring by violence; to force? (McKechnie 1976). This means any type of fighting, blood, gore, or killing would constitute as violence in the mass media.

Who it effects

This issue undeniably affects virtually everyone, considering that almost everyone takes part in viewing some aspect of the media everyday. The average American spends eleven years in front of the television set during a seventy-two year lifespan (Jeffries 1998). Although this does effect everyone, we should focus on children because it seems that they are the most impressionable viewers.

It seems that ?younger and younger children are committing more and more serious crimes?, and that these children are exposed to more and more violence in the media (Larsen 1968). Whether it is an eight-year-old child watching Power Rangers or a fourteen-year-old watching a R rated movie, it seems that our major problem lies in the younger generation (DeGaetano 1998).

Good Effects

Many people think that violence in the media has had only bad effects on our society. However, there are many people who think that violence being shown and discussed has helped society (Barbour 1994). It is obvious that the violence on television is brutal, but the brutality makes for an unsheltered existence. It helps to show that what is going on in the world, may be in your front yard. It helps people understand what effects may come out of certain situations in our every day life (Barbour 1994).

The media is here to inform us, whether good or bad. We have the right to know what goes on in the world and the media brings us this information. Movies and television shows occupy our free time with entertainment, and the daily news keeps us informed with current events (Barbour 1994).

Bad Effects

Through the ages, the media has seemed to loosen its morals and in turn showed more and more violence (Dudley 1999). There are many areas in which this has caused problems. Now I will discuss those problems and their effects on society.

The one major problem that has been brought forward by the many studies done on the effects of violence on society, is the ?monkey see, monkey do? factor. This means that if a person, a child in particular, sees something on television, they will imitate it (Keller 1997). Whether this is done because of curiosity, because they don?t think it is wrong, or because they think it looks ?fun?, most of the time they don?t know what the after effects are because they are not shown by the media (Larsen 1968). The reason this is a problem is because there are murders every year that have definite connections to programs on television, movies, and comic books (Easterbrook 1999).

The recent murders in Colorado by the so-called, ?Trench-Coat Mafia? were connected to the movie ?The Basketball Diaries?.. In the movie there is a dream sequence in which the main character goes around his school and shoots the classmates which he did not like. This is made attractive because of the rock music played in the background and the smile on his face while he kills his enemy classmates (Easterbrook 1999).

Another reason that we have problems with the violence is the fact that we are numbed to what we are actually seeing (Kim 1998).

Repeated exposure to media violence, especially when found on television, is directly

responsible for the increase in aggression and desensitization in our children, Madeline

Levine writes in Viewing Violence: How Media Violence Affects Your Child?s and

Adolescent?s Development (Kim 1998).

The fact that a person is being killed right before our eyes is not offensive, and anymore we may not even notice it. This is the effect of too much violence, bloodshed, and gore in our everyday lives (Kim 1998).

One of the main reasons that children are so susceptible to violence in the media, especially on television, is because they are so impressionable and the television has become like a third parent to them. In the busy lives of parents today, it is much easier for them to just put their child in front of the television while they get some work done. Many times cartoons have become very dangerous situations and the ?real life? consequences are not shown. Even though the parent may be monitoring the show that their child is watching, many times there will be previews for shows which will be aired at a later time that have violence in them (Jeffries 1998).


As I stated earlier, there were many studies done on this topic. These studies have come to many conclusions and statistics.

One of the reasons that acts of violence are imitated from television is because of the easiness in which they are presented. Characters that possess qualities, which make them attractive role models, initiate forty percent of all incidents on television that involve violence. At least forty percent of the violent scenes on television include humor. Many times these characters feature physical aggressions that would be lethal if they were to occur in real life (DeGaetano 1998).

The way violence is portrayed is a problem and the amount of violent scenes in television should be looked at. ?The average prime-time show has five violent acts per hour.? ?Cartoons have an alarming average of twenty-five violent acts per hour.? It is also said that by the time children have reached adolescence, they have seen more than eight thousand killings and over one hundred thousand other acts of violence (Keller 1997).


There are many debates over whether television should be regulated. If it should be regulated, then how much control should the government have over it? There are many ways in which this can be done and each one has its own repercussions.

The V-chip

The V-chip is a new technology that would allow parents to block television programs that have violent or sexual context from their children. It does this through a computerized chip that receives the rating that the government has given the program, and then if there is a R rating, the program is not displayed (Powell 1996).

This has brought about a concern because when the government has a direct interaction into what we see, people see it as controlling. The other downside of this is that, like all policies that involve the family, the guardians of the children should have a more interactive role in what they are watching and not rely on the chip to do the work. Our society must learn to teach our children how to deal with violence, instead of just blocking it out completely (Powell 1996).

The Rating System

There has been a rating system implemented in our television programming within the past few years. The rating system works just like the Movie Theater rating system. Many people would agree that this is the most sensible plan of prevention. This way leads the family to decide what should be seen and not the government. Although this would not physically prevent them from seeing the program, it would allow them to decide whether the child is old enough to watch the program or not (Easterbrook 1999).

Regulatory acts

There have been a number of acts that the U.S. Senate has tried to pass on regulating what is allowed to be posted on television. The reason that people don?t like this method goes along the same lines of the V-chip. They do not want government intervention (Barbour 1994).


In order to address a problem as controversial as violence in the media, you must understand both sides of the story. The effects of the violence can be very harmful to our society. Though there are ways in which violence is needed to be shown, it does not need to be shown to the extent that we see through the mass media. There are many ways in which we can prevent violence from being seen and our society must agree on one for it to be extremely effective. But whatever way we decide, it is obvious that the family needs to be stronger and violence must be addressed at a younger age and not just learned from the television.



Barbour, William (Ed.). (1994). Mass Media:Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego:Greenhaven Press, Inc…

DeGaetano Gloria (1998). Media Violence: Confronting the Issues and Taking Action. [On-line]. Available: interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/mldegaetano/mediavilonce.html [1999. November 3].

Dudley, William (Ed.). (1999). Mass Media:Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego:Greenhaven Press, Inc…

Easterbrook, Gregg (1999). Yes, the media do make us more violent.?Watch and learn. The New Republic, (1), 26.

Jeffries, Stuart (1998). Television is accused of creating a society of violent, illiterate slobs. Yes, it can show us how to kill? but it can also teach us how to love. New Statesman, 127, (2), 48.

Keller, Julia (1997). ?Monkey see, monkey do? debate targets sex, violence. [On-line]. Available: www.dispatch.com/news/special/tvkids/monside3.html [1999. November 2].

Kim, Timothy Young (1998). Media and Violence. [On-line]. Available: www-edlab.cs.umass.edu/~tkim/media.html [1999. November 3].

Larsen, Otto N. (Ed.). (1968). Violence and the Mass Media. New York, Evanston, and London:Harper & Row.

McKechnie, Jean L. (Ed.). (1975). Webster?s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language. (2nd ed.). USA: World Publishing Co., Inc…

Powell, A. (1996). The V-chip. [On-line]. Available: www.lifted.com/1.04/vchip.html [1999. November 2].

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