Media Violence & Children: What Goes In Must Come Out

“What Goes In Must Come Out: Children’s Violence Media Consumption At Home and Aggressive Behaviors At School” is an age, school grade, and sex survey study of the degree of influence that violence on television and video games have come to affect children of today. Now some people may think that such a study is overkill because violence among children is often mistaken for hyperactive playtime or simple childhood teasing. The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as harmless violence, and this comprehensive paper that was presented to the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Conference in Ontario, Canada, last August 2002 proves that. Violence is practically considered a way of life by children of today. The carelessness of the television networks and game developers, as well as the increasing lack of parental supervision among children, have all, in my opinion, conspired to rob our children of their inborn innocence and right to live a life free from violence of any sort.

All one has to do is watch the news every night and see how the increasing violence of all sorts on television is slowly affecting our children. We have violent accidents caused by children imitating “MacGyver” reruns. Some children try to emulate the violent video games they play without realizing that in real life, there is no reset button. Once you die, you don’t come back. Life is not a televised wrestling match either. A death hold in real life actually kills a person, and no, it is not cool to jump-kick anybody in the back.

Even more worrisome is that the violence is no longer limited to testosterone-driven male children. Since girls have also become avid gamers, they too have become violent in some ways as well. That is not even to include the influence of such television programs as “Gossip Girl,” where blogs are used to tease, shame, and harm young women and other classmates. Let us not forget to include the youtube sanctioned violence among the youth as well. All of these technologically driven and promoted acts of violence all boils down to one thing, the irresponsibility of the very people entrusted to care for and to mold the future generations of this nation in the misguided attempt to “entertain” the public, both young and old.

Television programs have lost their way over the decades of television’s existence. When it was first created, the shows were wholesome and family-based. It promoted values like friendship and harmony—traits which were emulated to a certain degree by the people of that generation. Somewhere along the way, the values of television got muddled up, and the distinction between child-friendly and adult viewing habits was blurred to the point of nonexistence. What that left us with is this generation of children who think that bullying their fellow man is the way to get ahead in life. Video games have not helped the situation with the advent of games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto, which have been seen as even influencing horrible violent acts among adults who tend to carry over the video game to real life as well.

Children are not born with the capability to differentiate between real life and virtual reality. That is something that they learn over time with the help of adults. Unfortunately, it seems like the adults themselves are in bad need of re-education. With the overflowing violence on television shows and the news, as well as the never-ending and growing list of violent video games on the market, parents must stop shirking their parental duty of guiding their children and helping them understand that just because a game is fun to play on a computer, does not mean that you should play the same way in real life. I understand that video games and television are now part and parcel of a child’s life, but nobody said that it should be allowed to rob them of their innocence and, whether intentional or unintentional, force them to grow up faster than their actual mind and emotions can create devices with which to cope with the elements that they are unwittingly exposed to by the people and the media who are supposed to be their guardians and protectors.

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