The life of a person is shaped by several surrounding factors. From childhood to adulthood, a person encounters several situations and circumstances most of which shape their behavior and general perception towards life. Many children brought up together within the same environment tend to behave in a similar manner a clear indication that human behavior is directly affected by ones environment. There are usually several similarities among urban children who may posses significant differences compared to their counterparts in rural areas. As a result, the society is charged with a mega responsibility of creating an external environment which augments commendable character and behavior. Although a lot of input has been witnessed towards achieving this goal, the media has been a key factor and challenge. It has been quite hard to discuss behavior in children and even in adults without the mention of media. This is because of the significant role it plays in our current society. Media shapes character, instills values, remains a vibrant and trusted source of information as well as promotes vices in the society. There is enough evidence indicating how violent media affects the society in terms of promoting violence. This paper explores media violence with special focus on the short term and long term effects of media violence.
Media has remained a significant tool in human history. How would life be without media? Would violence exist in our society if there were no televisions and movie production? Although these would still be witnessed in life, media has greatly contributed to countless violent vices in the society. Instead of media channels like televisions remaining a source of knowledge and credible information, they have turned into violence carriers (Freedman, 2002, p. 3). With children spending most of their study time watching violent television programs, films and listening to violent music, behavior among children and in the entire society continue to favor these trends. Research indicate that most American children spend more than six hours in a day feeding on media products like television programs, computer games, films, internet and radio music. These hours increase in the use of multiple media materials simultaneously. It is important to note that these hours are usually dominated with acts of violence covering to up to 60% of the total time spend on media.
How is violence demonstrated in media? There are many forms of violence propagated in media channels. Sexual violence is one of the ways in which media promotes vices in the society. Pornographic television programs and films carry explicit material which is exposed to young children, youths and even adults. In addition, millions of films and recorded moves cover all forms of violence including but not limited to robbery, murder and terrorism. These types of movies have found market among young people who spent their valuable time digesting nothing but violent actions (Anderson, 2004). The growth in technology has also promoted the growth of media violence. With the wide use of computers in the world, many opportunists have found it worthwhile to generate violent computer games which have become a common hobby among young people. It has been noted that these games are replacing physical exercises and keep fit programs which used to be preferred by young people. All these constitute to media violence which has become a moral global scourge.
Is there any link between media violence and the violence witnessed in the real world? Does media violence in any way affect the behavior of victims who get exposed to it? Research indicates that media violence increases the probability of violence and aggressive behavior among exposed people. When a person feeds his or her mind on media violence, it becomes acceptable as a way solving problems. Effects of media violence are therefore numerous and cannot be overlooked under whichever circumstances. They include both short and long term. One of the common short term effects of exposing a person to violent media programs and material is physical aggressiveness. Many children who get exposed to media violence exhibit violent approach to life. They are likely to cause more accidents at home since they do not care about the negative effects of violence. Additionally, many boys who spent a lot of time watching aggressive media programs and films may become brutal and vulnerable to physical confrontations at school and even at home (Carnagey, Anderson & Bartholow, 2007, p. 182).
Why do children become aggressive when exposed to media violence? The idea is that many people get psychologically affected after being exposed to violent media programs. Most of the topics and behaviors demonstrated in such programs become acceptable in the society as the best ways of solving society problems and a major ladder in realizing goals. Movies and televisions usually normalize the carrying and use of violence in achieving personal interest and power. It has been found that many violent movie viewers tend to associate with the most brutal character and may emulate them as lifetime role model. Such scenarios are crucial in young people who get exposed to violent media content. This is due to the fact that character and personality development begins at an early age. Children consider what is done by their elders as acceptable (Anderson, 2004, p. 180). They therefore quickly adapt to what happens in their lives, behaving like some of their friends or favorite media characters. When exposed to this form of violence at their tender ages, many develop unacceptable behavior which may last throughout their lifetime.
The nature of video games also promotes violent behavior in children. Many computer games are programmed in such away that more points are scored for violence against others, implying societal acceptance of such brutal actions. It has also been noted that almost 21 % of computer games feature violence against women (Anderson, 2004). As a result, children who exposed to such media violence end up viewing barbaric actions like rape and buttery as acceptable practices in the society. This may end up affecting the future life and behavior of such children. Previous researches have indicated that many brutal husbands had a violent childhood through exposure to media violence. Because of high exposure levels in the society, media has a significant power of shaping the behavior and their perception over certain issues in the world. Many children consider the media as the most trusted and easily accessible source of information compared to their parents and teachers in schools.
Apart from desensitizing the society over violence, media violence also promotes fear among viewers. Exposure to violent television programs and films may send wrong signals in the entire society. Through continuous exposure, children may assume that violence and human abuse is all over without the presence of anything good in the world (Anderson, 2004, p. 180). Although such a notion may be partially true, such misleading information can significantly affect children during their early stages of life. What is clear is that media violence affects human behavior in a wide range of ways. It has also been associated with drug abuse with many victims ending up to be drug addicts. Why is this so? Many experts argue that media violence rarely occurs in the absence of the use of drugs. By featuring drug use in search programs and recorded movies, consumers are likely to assume it as an acceptable behavior that promotes gain of individual power.
It is clear that behavior and character development significantly depends on the entire environment including physical, social and psychological factors. As a mega channel of information and entertainment, the media has remained a key player in shaping the society. With children opting to spend their free time feeding on media content, a clear understanding of the negative effects of media violence is quite significant. Parents however need to take the lead in controlling media diets by filtering it from extreme violence which affects children and other media viewers.