Violence in Media Essay

There have been a number of studies focusing on the effects of behavior due because of violence in the media. This issue seemed to first become prevalent after the Columbine High School in Colorado school shooting. As well as again after the unfortunate Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder. Is the violent imagery in the media damaging or desensitizing our society as a whole? Do violent video games or television shows have an impact on today’s youth?

After a mass shooting our society often asks what could we have done differently? Why did this happen? “Violence in the media has been increasing and reaching proportions that are dangerous,” said Emanuel Tanay, MD, a retired Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University and a forensic psychiatrist for more than 50 years (Kaplan, 2012). In addition someone who is already troubled, shooting people over and over can cause a significant blur between reality and fantasy.

In the case of the two Columbine High School shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were mentally ill; however, according to numerous reports their lives revolved around violent video-games. This leads some experts to believe that playing these violent games is part of what led the two shooters to depersonalize their victims. The most recent violent attack on a school was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Adam Lanza, was only 20, when he fatally shot his mother efore going on to shoot twenty children and six faculty members before turning the gun on himself in a mass-murder that left the country stunned and angry at the same time. After the investigation started the police interviewed numerous people who described Lanza, as a lonely young person who would lock himself in his room for hours, if not whole days at a time, playing violent video games. In fact, police are still investigating if Lanza was “acting out” a scene from one of those video games.

Although it is not believed that video game violence is the only cause of these mass murders some experts are coming to the same conclusion that if a person is “mentally ill” or “troubled,” playing violent video games can cause a person to lose a sense of reality, people start to have the lines blurred between fantasy and the real world. Some of the other risk factors involved are feeling “socially inadequate” or trying to “fit-in,” bullying also can be a risk factor.

Mass murders are not the only effect of Violence in Media, it is also believed that “exposure to sexually violent films results in a desensitization and callousness towards domestic abuse victims” (Lee, Peng, Klein, 2010, Computers in Human Behavior, para 3). It is also believed that desensitization is caused by playing violent video games more than television or movies because even though it is only virtual a person still participates in the violent act.

While playing the game the member is required to continue to perform this act in order to complete the game, in fact, scoring more points each time he or she commit the violent crime, until the game is over. Lecturer Lesley Murphy, of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, has stated that in a study that included 500 individuals between the ages of 12-18, photos of an injured dog, were often found to be more upsetting to the teenagers.

The teenagers were also shown photos of people from the Tsunami as well as the conflict in Iraq but were not as bothered as when shown the pictures of the animals. “Age, gender, educational ability and ethnic origins had little effect on the responses of the teenagers in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas” (Grant, 2006, May 10). Video game children ‘are immune to real violence’ The Daily Mail, London UK, p. 29.

In conclusion while more studies need to be concluded, we may never have a definitive answer regarding if violence in the media does have an impact on our society, it would not hurt for us to monitor our children’s behavior, both socially, and virtually. Why not have our children be children while they can be. It is a fact that in certain studies children playing these violent video games as well as watching violence on television or in the movies does make them more aggressive, even if it is only for a few minutes, after they are exposed.

Is all the violence really necessary? It has also been determined that the school shootings are not caused by only the violent video games, but it remains one risk factor that the shooter’s did have in common. It cannot be proven, however, that these unfortunate incidents would not have occurred anyway, even if the individuals did not have these violent video games. Can society prove that the violence in the media did not attribute in any way?


Grant, G., (2006, May 10) Video game children ‘are immune to real violence’ The Daily Mail, London UK, p. 29.

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Lee, K., Peng, W., Klein, J., (2010), Science Direct. Computers in Human Behavior. Volume 26, issue 5

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