At the age of four Saturday mornings meant that you could turn on your favorite television show while eating breakfast and have a relaxing morning. But was your favorite show Barney or Power Rangers and does that make a difference? After watching a video that demonstrated children's behavior during and after they watched Barney and then during and after Power Rangers showed significant differences in their behaviors based off their exposure to media. During and after the children watched Barney, a calming show full of love and friends, the children played nicely together, sharing toys, and not hurting one another. Once the children watched Power Rangers, a action filled show with fighting, they immediately began imitating the fighting displayed by the Power Rangers during and after the show. Not only did the children act out the motions of punching and kicking but they also began punching and kicking the other children around them. This is a specific example of how children's exposure to violent media affects the amount of aggression displayed through their behavior.
Another experiment was conducted to see how violent video games influenced aggressive behavior (Psychology Today).
This meta-analysis examined 380 studies that involved over 130,000 participants. Through this experiment it was proved that there are short-term and long-term effects on aggressive behavior due to violent video games. Playing violent video games for a short period of time seems to activate the idea of violence and increases people's overall level of energy or arousal. Playing violent video games over a longer period of time increases the person's overall aggressiveness. It has also been found through these studies that playing violent video games desensitizes people who play these games and makes them less sensitive to the negative aspects of violence.
In an article from Science Daily I found something Bruce Bartholow said, associate professor of psychology in the MU College of Arts and Science, very interesting.
"More than any other media, these video games encourage active participation in violence," said Bartholow. "From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence."
This supports evidence found in studies that violent television shows and video games increase aggression in children and desensitizes them to violence.
Even though there is all this support for violent shows and video games increasing children's short-term and long-term aggressive behavior there are also arguments that go against this. One study from another article in the Science Daily suggests that, "Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth," not violent video games.
The second argument against violent media affecting children's aggression argues that there is no obvious link between real-world violence statistics and the advent of video games and says that video game usage has reduced real violence. "Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s," says Kierkegaard, "while video games have steadily increased in popularity and use. For example, in 2005, there were 1,360,088 violent crimes reported in the USA compared with 1,423,677 the year before. "With millions of sales of violent games, the world should be seeing an epidemic of violence," he says, "Instead, violence has declined." With this finding, Patrick Kierkegaard of the University of Essex, England finds supporting evidence that these violent video games and television shows have actually decreased the amount of real-world violence and aggression instead of increasing it.
There are two-sides to each argument, so which one are you going to side with? Personally, I agree with the argument, violent shows and video games has increased children's short-term and long-term aggression and has desensitized people to the negative aspects of violence. I have witnessed this first hand through my cousins, little sister and my peers. Moving up a level in video games by shooting someone or stealing a car is reinforcing us to be aggressive and violent to get higher in life. This can in no way help future generations in becoming less violent and reducing real-life aggression and violence. Therefore I believe that violent media and games should be restricted due to its lasting affects on our people.