The Effect of Media Violence on Children

Ricardo - Glendale, Arizona
Entered on April 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

The children of today are surrounded by technology and entertainment that is full of violence. It is estimated that the average child watches from three to five hours of television a day. I believe media violence has a profound impact on children. Listening to music is also a time consuming pastime among children. With all of that exposure, one might pose the question, “How can seeing so much violence on television and video games and hearing about violence in music affect a child’s behavior?” Obviously, the media has a tremendous influence on children’s behavior: we can see it in the way they attempt to emulate their favorite rock stars by dressing in a similar style and the way children play games, imitating their favorite cartoon personalities or super heroes. Studies have shown that extensive television viewing may be associated with aggressive behavior, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity, and the use of drugs or alcohol. Television, video games, and music are very influential and if too much violence is available for children to watch, play, or listen to, this can sway their attitudes in a negative direction.

Music is a big part of children’s lives, especially as children become older and enter adolescence. We can see how influential rock stars are just by looking at the children of today; they dress and sometimes try to act just like their idols. Music can be very powerful and there have been numerous stories in the news of teenagers trying to commit suicide or committing crimes and then blaming it on song lyrics. One of the largest selling and most popular genres of music currently is rap music. A vast majority of rap songs are littered with explicit lyrics and such suggestive material as drugs, rape, racism, and murder. All of these types of albums are stamped on the front cover warning for explicit content and are not supposed to be sold to anyone underage, but I have personally purchased many during my teenage years. Violent music is easily available not only in stores but also on the internet. With children being able to obtain these types of music, it is apparent why music has such an impact.

Television is especially influential on the children of today. Thirty years ago, not every home had a television; they were considered a luxury that only the rich could afford. Now, most households have two televisions and children watch them incessantly. Many children’s programs are extremely violent and a child can learn violent behavior from watching these programs. The cartoons of today have evolved from the simple cat and mouse chases of “Tom and Jerry,” to much more vivid and violence oriented cartoons such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” The teenage-based programs today have a considerably higher amount of teenage pregnancy, teenage drinking, drug use, and domestic violence. Most television shows have mature content that should be restricted to underage teenagers and children, but are so easily accessible to them due to the fact that nearly every child has a television of their own.

Another form of entertainment that can have a strong influence on a child’s behavior is video games. Children today spend hours in front of the television playing video games, most of which have some sort of violent theme. A recent study found that the two most preferred categories were games that involved fantasy violence, preferred by almost 32% of subjects; and sports games, some of which contained violent subthemes, which were preferred by more than 29%. The violence in these video games can desensitize children to violence and alter their perception of reality. It can give them the idea that violence is an acceptable way to deal with problems and conflict. Martial arts games are the most popular sold to underage people; most of which have a rating that is intended for adults. As we get more and more technologically advanced, video games become profoundly more realistic with much more blood and gore. Most kids these days have at least one video game console and definitely have at least one martial arts game, so it is easy to comprehend how video games are another form of media violence that are accessible and have a tremendous impact on children.

In conclusion, television, music, and video games are all avenues of entertainment that can be fun and sometimes educational for kids. However, these medias can be a horrific influence on children, depending on the content. Children are extremely impressionable and if exposed to violent television, music or video games, they will start to emulate that show, artist or song, or video game with their behavior. These are all so powerful that they should be used to teach children how to problem solve and help them expand their minds, not show them how to kill someone or teach them other violent behavior. It is for these reasons I believe the violence in the media has an everlasting impact on children.