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Over the last few years, there has been a very heated debate in the courts, the House of Senate, House of Congress, and in the public domain. There are people who believe that watching violent videos actually causes violent behaviors among the young people.
The issues of whether watching violent videos have an influence in making children develop emotional and physical violence has been openly talked about, more so in the United States. Although there are some people who oppose the idea that watching violent videos and games for long periods of time make young people violent, there are some people who think that this is not the case (The Future of Children 2). Most people, however, are of the opinion that watching videos potentially has negative effects on children. This includes both violent and nonviolent videos. For this reason, parents and care givers ask themselves, “What can we do?” The only way is to ensure that there is regulated time and content of videos that children watch.
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Studies done in the past have shown that video games are closely related to children becoming aggressive emotionally and in their behavior. The people who watch these videos become more positive towards violence and develop the use of violent language and genres. In several schools, there have been reports that children who watch violent videos are often more physically aggressive as compared to their counterparts, who do not play or watch violent videos.
Some of the researchers are of the opinion that studies that have been done across the board have given mixed results: that is, watching violence videos have both negative and no effects on children. This has made some of these researchers come to a conclusion that watching violent videos has potentially no negative effects on children. Some other researchers have come to totally contradicting conclusions, by saying that this has negative effects. These conflicts in conclusions have left several people with one question in mind: is watching violent videos actually bad? As Anderson puts it, the case is similar to that of smoking where several researchers have come up with conflicting results that tobacco smoking does cause lung cancer. He argued that, when a person uses meta-analytical techniques to combine all the research that has been done on the same, he will come up with five consistent and very different negative effects of watching violent videos among children. These are: increase in aggression among children; psychological arousal increases; a reduction in pro-social behaviors and increase in aggressive thoughts and behaviors.
Anderson also asserts that there are comparable results in average sample sizes of affected cases in the studies conducted, which would aid in establishing causality with that of co-relational studies that aid in examination and determination of violence. From the argument by Anderson what is the conclusion that we make? This is simple as Anderson has made it clear that the conflicts in results of the effects of violence among children is not a good reason enough to conclude that watching violent videos does not have negative effects on the behavior of children (The Future of Children 2).
From the above arguments, most of the people will ask themselves, how and to what extent has watching violent videos increased aggressiveness and violent behaviors among the children? As Anderson states, more than $158 billion is spent annually in the United States on expenses related to injuries and deaths that are caused by violence. What is more worrying is that homicide happens to be the second largest felony cause of Hispanics for persons between ages 10 and 24. The two also realized that, despite the fact that people of the above named ages were only 13 percent of the total population, they accounted for 28 percent of first offenders and 41 percent of second and subsequent offenders in crimes that were relating to violence, in the year 1995. They also realized that cases of assault have increased significantly between the years 1980s and 1990s. They attributed this to the increase in the number of sales of violent videos over the same periods of time.
According to Kunkel, there is a 50% chance that every program on the television does contain violent content. He also states that in over the 10,000 programs that they sampled, more than 6,000 contained some violent content. He also realized that 53 percent of the violent programs did have very lethal acts, whereby in more than 25 percent of the same there was the usage of a gun. Kunkel realized that the major reason as to why there is a higher chance of children adopting violent behaviors from the videos is the way the videos are formulated in such a way that they are glamorized and sanitized. This means that they do not show how the victims suffer from pain, or any realistic harm being applied to the victims.
In most of these videos, the harm depicted on the victims is usually very mild in such an unrealistic manner which ends up giving the children an underestimation of the harm that is caused by the violence in the real life. The videos are also made to seem so realistic, which when coupled with the underestimation of harm makes the same seem not harmful since there is less pain. This would encourage the children to try out the same. They glamorize the videos in such a way that they are performed by role models to these children, which creates an impression that the acts are justified. This leaves no room for remorse or critics for the violent behavior. In most cases, more than 33 percent of the characters in these violent videos and 66 percent of incidents where there is violent behavior in the videos are used as punishment (The Future of Children 2). As Kunkel comes to a conclusion, when a video is presented in a sanitized and glamorized manner, it has greater effects on those children who watch the same. This is because it does not display the pain and suffering that is endured by the victims.
At times, a question arises, what proportion of exposure is good enough? According to Anderson, a single exposure to violence could potentially lead to increased aggressiveness. They gave an example of the groups of 5 and 6 year olds who were divided into two groups. They subjected one group to watching violent videos while the other watched nonviolent videos. Raters, who did not have an idea of the types of movies the children watched, observed the children as they played in a playing room. They rated children who had watched the violent videos higher than those who watched nonviolent videos. They also realized that similar exposures would lead to an increased behavior in aggressive thinking; they developed aggressive emotions, and also were aggressive in terms of tolerance.
As realized above, watching violent videos has been seen to have adverse negative effects upon children. Knowing that there are such effects, one then would ask himself: what has the government of the United States done to protect the children? As Mortimer asserts, one of the biggest steps towards ensuring that the children were protected was the signing into the bill into law that would ensure that there was a “v-clip” that would be installed to enable parents to block certain programs in their television sets. However, Mortimer notes that the same cannot be as effective as initially intended since he notes that, in the present day, children have a much better mastery of technology than their parents have; this advantage puts children in a position where they can overdo the settings so as to enable them to watch the intended video programs. Another reason why Mortimer deemed the move as not good enough was that the device is not as ethical as expected which makes it not traceable. This raises a major question on the position of parenthood among the families at the moment.
In most heated debates, in the public domain, there are people in the opposing sides of different ideas. This will pose the question: are there any people who have come out to oppose the idea that watching violent videos does have a negative impact on the children? One of these was Gardner who argued that there has not been any scientific relationship between violent behaviors and watching violent movies and playing games. Chris Ferguson, the Chairman of Psychology and Communication at the Texas A&M International University said that he believed that there was no scientific relationship between watching violent videos and crime (Gardner). He said that if the government would consider reducing the amount of violence in movies and games, then this would be the wrong way to achieve a reduction of crime. Furthermore, children were able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. She argued that these people seldom would do things they grasp in fantasy, in the reality (Gardner). Furthermore, kids grow older to become more and more realistic of the difference between fantasy and reality. Both Ferguson and Laura were of the idea that parents bear the biggest responsibility when guiding the children; the parents should guide their children and advise them accordingly.
From the above discussions, what can one conclude? There is a lot of talk on how much does watching videos, more so violent ones, affects children and their behavior. As noted, there are several negative effects of watching violent videos. These effects are: children get to learn attitudes that are in most cases very aggressive; children are able to become less insensitive towards those people who fall victim of violence, and children do become very fearful of falling victim of violence. This could be due to lack of understanding of personal characteristics as much as one does to biological characteristics, where he argued that people who watch these videos and games do not understand their emotions but only look at the physical impact. This makes the impact of watching and playing such video games to bear a psychological impact rather than physical one. The psychological impact is the one that could lead to the violent behaviors and activities when not manageable (The Future of Children 1).