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Media Violence Significant Cause Of Social Violence Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3851 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This essay will be identified what is violence, what is media violence, and what is social violence and explain with several examples as first part. Next, it is going to debate the relationships among the media violence and social violence. It is stated the various media systems that affect the different mass media audiences, such as children and teenagers. And then, it will be analyzed the opposite opinions that media violence is not a significant cause of social violence compared with the effects of media violence to ensure whether media violence is a significant aspect to cause social violence. After this, it will be concluded the argument about media violence causes social violence. Finally, many effective and efficient suggestions to avoid violence will be presented.

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‘Violence’ is not some singular ‘thing’ which might grow cumulatively like poison inside people (Barker and Petley, 2001, p.3). When people mentioned violence, it is believed that they always come out with the bloody and intensely scenes. That was the basic ideas that violence bring to the public audiences. So, the public’s definition of violence is almost similarly with the ‘aggression’.

However, according to the scholarly definition, violence is limited to physical acts and aggression also includes verbal forms (Potter, 1999). It has been divided into two parts. The one is defined by the theoreticians; they focus on the characteristics of harm, intentionality, and whether the act can be verbal or physical. The other one is defined in content analysis literature. The most recognized definition of violence is developed by Gerbner. Gerbner and his colleagues defined the violence as the overt expression of physical force, with or without weapon, against self or others, compelling action against one’s will on pain of being hurt or killed, or actually hurting or killing. (1978, p.179)

In the daily lives, we can notice that violence includes in the aspects of physical and psychological and it seems to be true that the impression of violence itself has been exceeded by the negative effects to people. For example, most of people never met the robber at the night, but they are afraid of walking alone at the night because of the robber. Therefore, the psychological and social effects of violence have been brought to the audiences more than the physical effects.

Social violence

Social violence, as a representation of violence, exists in the society. It is also the synthesis of variety of violence. When a kind of violence exists in the society widely and influences the stability of the society and the daily lives of the citizens, it probably defined as a kind of social violence. Meanwhile, the social violence may also represent the power. It seems like that if one person owns more power; he can bring more influences to the society. Social violence brings people huge negative harms, it is not only exists between the residents, but also in the different organizations and the governments. As the development of the society and the technology, social violence becomes more complicated and more multiple, instead of the single and obvious way before.

The social violence activities can be divided into several kinds by the public in general.


It can be defined like the sweeping aggression, and most of the riots are supervised by the government, such as the World War.

Labor Strikes.

It could be said that it like the normal fighting and dacoity. It is regulated by the public laws.


It must be understood like the sinister organizations, such as terrorism.


It might be said that it is organized by the public and in order to against the social violence activities by themselves.


It is probably true to say that one of the difficulties problems that the public faced right now is entertainment instead of other fours. Because under the atmosphere of peace and stability, most of the countries are dedicated to develop the economics, so the public security and the government stability apply the supports. But, as the inundate media exist in the world, the entertainment reflects and influences the social violence.

Media Violence

It is hard to define and measure media violence, because the effects of media to different people are distinctively. But there is one thing can be ensured is that the media violence, including in the social violence, is a main way to spread the violence “message” to the mass audiences. In almost most of the literature, media violence defined by the effects of different audiences of screen violence. First, as a mass media audience, it must be ensure that what is violence and which activities are the violence activities in their own definitions. Second, the audiences should distinguish who are the perpetrators and who are the victims. Finally, according to the messages the audiences received and combined with some personal opinions, the audiences may judge which media violence is or which scope may be accepted by the audiences to define the media violence.

There is a research can prove this argument. It shows some teenage boys in an institution in Belgium who were divided into four groups for the duration of the study: 2 groups of violent boys and 2 groups of non-violent boys. One of the violent groups and one of the non-violent groups were shown violent films for a week, and the other 2 groups were shown non-violent films. It was found that only the boys who were already violent became more violent after watching violent films, but there was no effect on the other 3 groups (Ciao, 2005).

How media violence causes social violence

After described the social violence and media violence foregoing, this paragraph will be analyzed the relationship between social violence and media violence. In conformity to define the media violence and evaluate the effects from it, the media violence has been split into three parts: violence in screen, violence in music, and violence in print publications. In order to state the violence in these media, it will be argued the violent behaviours existed in these media and the effects to the mass audiences in the society.

4.1 Screen violence

The screen violence is an aggression and violent behaviours played on screen. The screen violence, as the core type of media violence, could be segmented into TV violence (and film violence), video games violence, and Internet violence.

4.1.1 TV violence (and film violence)

As the most recognized media system, TV and film have been spread the messages to the audiences as much as possible. And the varieties of TV program producers are make the TV program bloodier and more violent to own more benefits. It may cause millions of people received these violent messages directly or indirectly. For example, with television, the average hours of each person views about television per week are 23 hours (Nielsen, 1998). That means a TV viewer will see about 6,700 acts of violence on television per year. And there will be about 1.4 million violent crimes each year. If each violent crime has one perpetrator, one victim, and two bystanders, there will be about 5.6 million of people involved in the violent crime (Potter, 2003).

In another hand, the socialists indicated that the number of violent program is increased year by year. The National Cable Television Association’s National Television Violence Study states in 1998 that “across the three years of this study, a steady 60% of TV programs contain violence . . . [and] much of the violence is glamorized, sanitized, and trivialized.”

Figure 1

(National Television Violence Study. Page 27.)

Obviously, the adult may have the judgment to filter the violent messages and make a decision whether to receive them or not. However, for some people who has the psychic diseases or has the potential violent aggression may feel testily or act some harmful violent behaviours; even for the children and teenagers, they always imitate the adults’ violent actions. For instance, it is stated from a research that the average child who watches two hours of cartoons a day may see nearly 10,000 violent incidents each year. And the researchers estimate that at least 500 pose a high risk for learning and imitating aggression and becoming desensitized to violence.

Not only in cartoon, but also in other media, such as film or TV news, have more and more media violence been showed. For example, as an eighteen years old child, he or she will see on television about 200,000 acts of violence including 40,000 murders (Huston, et al, 1992). It may incurred that the children who see media violence have a greater chance of exhibiting violent and aggressive behavior later in life, than children who have not seen violent media (Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000).

The famous BOBO Doll experiment showed that the effects from adult model will change behaviors of the children. The experiment tries to expose children in the aggressive adult model environment and unaggressive adult model environment, and then, observe whether or not the children imitate these adult model aggressive (or nonaggressive) behaviors. The result is that children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. The same as the adult aggressive behavior performed on TV, children will become more aggressive and violent from these adult shows.

4.1.2 Video games violence

The video games violence is another main form of media violence. Video games, as the most spread type of game in teenagers, influence the teenagers the most because the audiences of video games may experience the actions in playing video games to influence the real actions in their lives.

The researchers in Indiana University School of Medicine answer one question is that “Can video games make kids more violent? ” And their answer may be yes. It is possibly true to say that the brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention. It seems to express that the teenagers will feel an uncontrollable urge to go on a shooting rampage after playing violent video games. In most of violent video games, the scenes of killing people, brigandage, sexual actions, and other anti-social actions appeared more frequently. For example, in the video game of GTA, if the players kill more people, they can reward more scores and more money to buy more guns in order to kill more people. Although most of the producers print the age groups of each video game on the cover, it seems not to limit the numbers of teenagers to contact with the video games. It might induce the teenagers to increase the aggressive thoughts, emotions, and actions, and also to decrease the positive pro-social actions.

The figure below may prove this argument. It shows the shows the percentages of students who report being involved in physical fights within one year. The players who play the high violent video games are almost ten times more likely to have been involved in physical fights than the players who play the low violent video games with the lowest hostility scores (38% compared to 4%). In fact, the least hostile children who play a lot of violent video games are more likely to be involved in fights than the most hostile children who do not play violent video games.

Figure 2

(David Walsh, Ph.D., National Institute on Media and the Family)

4.1.3 The Internet violence

In most countries, especially in the developed and developing countries, it is optimistically to see that the Television has been or will be replaced by the Internet to be one of the biggest media in the world. However, to the opposite side, the violence exists in the Internet might be worried. Compared with TV and video games, the Internet seems freer to the audiences. Many sorts of messages, involved the violent and anti-social messages, can be found on the Internet through the powerful search engine. Because of its freedom, the degree of violence and the spread of messages may difficult to be limited. Only minority websites restricted the age groups, but not implement the actions to administrate the identity authentications. It also increases the curiosities of youths to search the websites, which are not suit for their age groups. Meanwhile, other terrorists and anti-social organizations may use the Internet to spread the free press of terrorism. Also, because people will not be response for their arguments on the Internet, it makes violence became more illusive and it can only represent of personal states. It will confuse the audiences in the wrong directions and leads them to have some aggressive thoughts and actions.

On the other hand, the violence also exists in the online games. To be one of the styles of entertainment, the online games are similar to the video games; it will increase the interaction and entertaining between the players. But it has more differences since PK (Player Kill) brings. The players may feel more large charges of killing and anti-social in the games. There are more and more cases to show that the player cannot distinguish the reality and illusive world and resulted badly. For example, in China, the game named War of World Craft is very popular in the game players and is also the one, which causes the most social violent affairs. Many of the players bring the aggressive emotions to the realities, so every day may happened about one violent affair caused by the online games.

4.2 Music violence

Music, as a popular way to communicate in the world, may arouse emotions. At the same time, violence images may be reinforced by music and emotions because emotions may enhance memories, memories may indoctrinate by repeated frequently, and the repetition may remind people in their memories. It has been included in three steps. First of all, the violent memories with a series of negative emotions might be emphasized by persistent repetition of music. Second, the violence may be reminded consciously. Finally, the violence may be presented easily by the audiences who listened to the music.

As most of the music audiences are teenagers, they have been influenced by the music the most. The National Council of Churches discovered that the direct reason of growing aggressive behaviours of teenagers is that they affected by the violent content of contemporary films and music (USA Today, Oct. 11, 1985). Another study indicated that in the 700 most popular songs of “heavy metal,” the lyrics of killings, Satanism, and suicide appeared followed by 50%, 35%, and 7%. Sheila Davis, professor of lyric writing at New York University, is affirmed that “We had better pay serious attention to the content of pop songs and to evaluate not only what lyrics are saying to society but, more important, what they may be doing to it” (USA Today, October 11, 1985, p. 10). Similar records from the National Education Association expressed that nearly 6000 teenage suicides a year influenced by the nihilistic and fatalistic music (Information for Parents’ Music Resource Center, Nashville, TN. 1990).

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4.3 The print violence

Although the print media is superseded of some parts by electrical media, the print media as the traditional media is spread widely among the mass audiences. The three main forms in the print media are newspapers, books, and magazines. As the main reading of adults, the newspapers communicate more information and news to them. It is believed that the violent information can influence the audiences’ thoughts and actions directly. A research states that if the audiences read plenty of information about violence, they may feel uneasiness and testiness. That may cause social violence.

To youths, the influences of print media may not such immediately than from screen media. But, the words can enrich the imaginations of youths and they may think the aggressive scenes more that the words described.

4.4 Conclusion by the contrastive table

Main types of


Media Violence



Music violence






Imitation, Arousal, Fear, Long-term triggering, Disinhibition

Imitation, Arousal, Attraction

Imitation, Arousal,


Imitation, Arousal, Fear, Long-term triggering, Disinhibition

Imitation, Arousal, Catharsis, Narcotizing,

Imitation, Arousal,


Imitation, Arousal, Fear, Desensitization, Disinhibition

Imitation, Arousal,

Imitation, Arousal,

It is clear to see from the table that the effects include in immediate effects, such as imitation, fear, desensitization and long-term effects, such as long-term triggering and narcotizing. In another way, as times goes by, the immediate effects may influence, or even become the long-term effects. For example, in the type of behavioural effects, the immediate effects are imitation and copying. And in a long-term, it may become to be the novel behaviours.

These effects have huge influences on the audiences, especially to children, because first, the children have high exposure to the media and they can receive the messages easily and quickly; second, they are difficult to distinguish the reality and fantasy; third, the cognitive development of children is limited. They probably may not to evaluate the violence, just learn things by observing and imitating; finally, the children may the most vulnerable to the effects of media violence.

The opposite opinions that media violence is not a significant cause of social violence

Although the above paragraphs explained the effects, which media violence to the society, there are a plenty of people figured that the media violence cannot cause the social violence. Most of the opposite opinions considered that the media violence may only bring the effects indirectly. There are a few cases can show the direct relations that when people finished watching TV, and then they will go out and hurt others or do something anti-socially. For example, the increased social criminals and the shooting in the campus may not be connected coercively. In the case of shooting in the campus, it probably showed that it only have the indirect relationships to prove the media violence caused the criminal affairs. There are a lot of advocators to agree this idea. In their opinions, they might have enough intelligent to distinguish which violence in the media is illusive and not exist in the society. These violent pictures are only to satisfy the sense of vision, so they may not cause the criminals and threats to the society. On the other hand, it is believed that when children watching the violent scenes, they must be repulsively to receive. And the parents also play an important part; they must forbid the children to watch the violent scenes. And similar arguments stated that the children’s violent actions after contacting the media violence may not threat the society. They all belong to the process of the abreaction of them. For another example, as the BOBO Doll case mentions above, the experiment can only prove the children may treat the toys violently after watching violent movies, but not prove that they can treat other people like this.

It is cannot be unaccepted that the researches now can prove media violence effect the mass audiences directly. Farther, most of these effects are indirect and may exist in the memories of mass audiences. It likes a bomb that has huge influence. The modern violence system is not only influence people in potential ways, but also spread the violence and anti-social ideas out, make people used to the violence, and until they get callous. Compared with the audiences before, for example, the people of the 17th centuries in Europe, they was feel fear or restless; but now, when the TV audiences saw the wars or killing on TV, they still can eat the hamburgers calmly. Media violence, unlike the violence in the politics, economics, and environment, seems like a chronic poison to erode people’s souls. Another reason why media violence causes social violence is that media violence is also the catalyzer of other aspects to cause the social violence. Under many conditions, media violence may cause the social violence directly. However, with the threats of other violence, media violence accelerates other violence to become social violence.


This essay analyzed the question “whether media violence is a significant cause of social violence”. It has been give the definition of violence, media violence and social violence, and it showed that media violence is a kind of social violence. With the following research of the effects of media violence to social violence, the essay fingered out the media violence caused of the violence methods and behaviors to mass audiences, especially to children and teenagers, and it is a key reason to cause of social violence. Although media violence cannot affect social violence directly, the indirect effects can cause of plenty social problems, such as labor strikes, riots and lynching. So the author answer the essay question as media violence is a significant cause of social violence.


The social violence is more like the cancer of the society. It may not be eliminated drastically, but it can be avoided and prevented.

The media should response for the audiences and need to avoid or stop the violence. The management of media violence is very useful, especially on TV, the broadcast time must be limited to avoid during playing the programs for children. The media violence needs to be cut at the beginning.

Although some arguments point out that media violence brings more spiritual and sensual benefits to the audiences, they did not aware of the harm which media violence brought. The mass audience should understand the media violence completely, and they should also protect their mind to keep away with media violence. The media violence needs to be controlled at the spreading process.

This essay has mentioned before that the media violence affect children deeply, so it necessary to guard children carefully. The parents should teach children to define what media violence is, and teach them to keep away from the media violence. It will reduce the frequencies, which children touch media violence.


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