The Impact of Media Violence on Health

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The Impact of Media Violence on Health

Background
Media allows for us to easily communicate with large amounts of people all at the same time. It can appear in many forms, including, broadcasting, video games, publishing, and the internet. Thanks to technology, the internet has quickly become one of the easiest ways for us to access information about current world events, just moments after they happen.

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With media being so accessible, it is becoming a staple in many people’s daily routines. As technology continues to improve, it is giving the media a better platform for sharing information. Media now has the ability to reach us on our phones, televisions, and our computers. This means that many people are exposed to at least one form of the media at least once during the day. This information, whether positive or negative, is being publicized to thousands of people all over the world in just a few short seconds.

Since the rise of media, many researches have been interested in studying the effects that this exposure may have on an individual. With it actively becoming more accessible to the masses, many researchers are wondering what this means for society. The switch of our society to a more technologically based culture is still relatively new and leaves us with many unanswered questions about our future. Media separates us from the physical world and distracts us from the people around us. One topic that has been heavily researched is the media portrayal of violence and the impact that this will have on an individual’s health. Violence is one of the most prominent visuals broadcasted today. Media is showcasing large amounts of violence because it knows that, this topic is something that draws consumers in. Research shows that by the time they reach age 18, American children will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence (American Psychiatric Association, 1998). With all of these new developments and trends, it has left researchers with many questions about the long term effects that media may have on an individual.

Cultivation Theory looks at the long-term effects of media, specifically television, on an individual ( Potter 2014.). This theory is one of the essential theories in media effects. It was introduced by George Gerbner who was interested in studying the long-term effects that media has on an individual. Gerbner believed that if an individual spent enough time watching television or exposed to other forms of media that their sense of reality would be warped based on the things that they were being exposed to. This theory suggests that individuals are heavily influenced by the media that they are exposed to throughout their lives. Many of the images and scenes that we see in the media are exaggerated beyond the truth and used to create new realities for people. This theory studies the inconsistent portrayal of violence in the media and compares it to what is happening in reality.

Studies have shown that individuals that participate in media usage more frequently are more likely to experience depression, loneliness, and have feelings of mistrust towards the world and people around them. This is because the usage of media by these individuals is shaping the way that they think and making them disconnected from reality. Many heavy media consumers shape their opinions based on the things that they see through different media platforms and then apply these ideas to the real world, greatly impacting their grip on reality. The further examination of the effects of the exposure to violence in the media is the Mean World Syndrome. This is a part of the conclusion that is drawn from the study of Cultivation Theory.

This was also created by George Gerbner and he uses it to describe the occurrence of people being exposed to violence on media and then believing that the world is more dangerous and violent than it actually is. Researches have been able to use this theory to find more direct correlations between the amount of television watched by an individual and the amount of anxiety they feel about the safety of the world. These theories have allowed for researchers to explain the effects of media and the violence portrayed by media on the effect of individuals.
One of the most obvious solutions to the issues that are presented with Cultivation Theory and Mean World syndrome would be to make individuals more mindful of the media that they are exposing themselves to. Whether that means surrounding yourself with more positive media outlets, checking the sources that are presenting you information through the media, or just simply being reminded of the biases that you may be exposed to as a consumer.

Actively looking for positive things on the media would encourage individuals to think more positively about the world around them. This would be especially helpful in the case of Mean World Syndrome. It is important to be aware of the media that you are being exposed to and the impact that it may have on your daily life. We are constantly being exposed to new things and it is important that we reflect on this and see the way that this may impact us. In order for us to be more mindful of our media consumption, we need to be aware of the sources of our media consumption. Looking at the source of something helps the consumer to determine whether the information that they are being exposed to is accurate or not. By eliminating the exposure that an individual has to inaccurate information, it will help to reduce the biases that they may have about a particular situation.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason why we haven’t been able to end the negative effects that the violence portrayed by the media is causing individuals. There is not just one big obstacle, but many smaller obstacles that stand in the way of us accomplishing this goal. It is hard to find just one solution because the negative implications of this violence effect everyone differently. In order to change this, we would have to change the way that people are exposed to media and the way that they react to it. People would have to learn how to fully distinguish the things that they are seeing online, on the television, or in newspapers from what is truly happening in the real world (Muscari, 2015). In order for this to happen we would have to educate people more on the things that they are being exposed to by the media and give them the tools to form their own well-educated conclusions about the world around them.

This is not an easy solution and it would take a lot of time. It would need to be heavily supported so that people would have the resources that they need to educate themselves. Another obstacle that is blocking us from the solution to this problem is the hold that technology has on our society. Technology is extremely beneficial to many, but it can also be very harmful. With the widespread acceptance of technology in our society, people are being exposed to the violence on media much more frequently. Technology accounts for the largest exposure to media for many individuals and is so interwoven into their daily routine that they don’t even notice the exposure that they are receiving. In order to end the negative effects, we would have to limit our exposure to media, and this is something that many people are not willing to do. If people are not willing to limit their exposure, then we need to give them the tools and skills that they would need to cope with the negative effects of the violence portrayed by the media and help them avoid the symptoms of Mean World Syndrome.

Voices

Parents
The first voice that is going to be used is the voice of a mother and father of a seven year old child. These parents are concerned about their child’s constant exposure to media violence through the shows that he watches and the games that he plays. They are worried because the act of watching television or playing video games has become so intertwined in their son’s daily activities that he will feel as if his day is incomplete without it. He uses these activities to fill his spare time and he would much rather spend his time watching shows or playing video games than interacting with his friends from school. They are aware of the effects that too much media consumption can have on us as individuals and they want to try and shield their son from these things.

They are concerned that because he growing up in a society that is built on the usage of media, that he will be affected in his day to day life. They especially worry about all of the violent things that he sees on the television and his games. They have been talking to other parents at their son’s school about their concerns and they have all come to the conclusion that they should limit the amount of time that their children spend interacting with these devices. They also have come to the conclusion to monitor the types of things that their son is watching and playing, hoping that they will be able to curb his aggressiveness and make him be more interactive with his classmates.

Recently, they purchased a new video game console for their son. It was something that he had been asking them for for months, and they were both very excited to give it to him. Before purchasing the gift, they decided that they wanted to monitor the games that their son plays and how long he plays them each day. They have been seeing multiple articles and news reports about the violence in video games and the way that this may impact their child (Murray 2008) and they want to avoid these negative implications at all costs. They haven’t noticed any drastic differences in their son since he has received his new gaming console, but they have noticed that he seems to be less interested in the world around him and that he is only concerned with his game.

Even though this is a minor detail that they have noticed, they are aware that this could be an indicator for a much more serious problem. They want their son to be happy and be able to participate in the activities that he enjoys, but they don’t want this to be at the expense of his relationships and mental health. They plan to continue monitoring his behavior and controlling his usage and the content that he views. They hope that by doing that they will be able to lessen the effects of his media consumption and give him the most normal life that they can.

This voice was influenced by an article written by John P. Murray. In that article he talks about the influence of media violence on an individual’s aggressiveness, morals, and the way that they behave. In this research article he specifically looks at the effects that the exposure to violence has on children and I thought that it would be important to showcase a voice that represents this perspective. Instead of looking at the thoughts of a child, I wanted to show the perspective of the child’s parents since they are most likely to witness and report on the differences that they are seeing in their child’s behavior after his exposure to violence through the media. It is important that we are aware of the fact that even at a young age, we are being exposed to violence in the media in our society.

Reporter

The second voice that will be presented is the voice of a young reporter. This reporter is very dedicated to her job and will do anything to find the next big story. She often finds herself writing about violent events that have taken place because she knows that violence is a topic that often draws people’s attention. As a child, she always admired the reporters that she saw on television and she respected everything that they reported to their viewers. She knew that everything that they were telling her was the truth and that they would never lead her astray. She believes that a reporters job is to educate the masses and show them the truth behind events that take place in the world.

Now that she is older, she has been able to follow her dreams and start her own career as a reporter. Since she is fairly new to this field and knows that in order for her to become a successful reporter, she has to be willing to put her career before everything else in her life. She will not let anything get in her way of becoming a great reporter.

Recently, she has been hearing about studies that have been done on individuals that looks at the effects of the medias portrayal of violence on their mental health. She is worried that these studies will impact the way that people view news outlets on various platforms. She works hard on the content that she creates and she knows that her peers do as well and she believes that it is unfair for these claims to be made. She works hard to present her viewers with the truth and nothing but the truth and unfortunately, the truth often includes violence.

She doesn’t understand how the news that she is reporting to people can make them believe that the world is more dangerous and impact their mental health when she is just presenting them with facts and the truth. Her goal is to educate the people, not give them a warped sense of reality. How is it possible that by spreading the truth, she is somehow manipulating people into seeing a false reality? To her these claims seem absurd and as if they are attacking her career and way of life.

This voice was influenced by an article that I read by Tobias Greitemeyer that studies the effects of positive and negative media on its viewers. The perspective presented in this article made me think of the people that are creating the media and presenting it, especially reporters. They have the power to choose what they report on and how they report this information. They are able to shape the way that they viewer sees a particular issue and there is a lot of power behind that. I also thought that it would be important to look at the view point of the people that interact with media in a professional way and not just for their entertainment.

Professor

The third voice that will be presented is that of a professor. He has been teaching mass media studies at a university for twenty years. He has dedicated his career to learning about the continuously growing field of mass media. He is particularly interested in the effects that the exposure to violence on mass media can have on individuals. The main goal of his classes each year is to teach his students about the positive and negative that media can have on an individual.

He strongly believes that in order for us to avoid the harmful effects of media, we need to be aware of the things that we are looking. He is a strong advocate for educating the masses on the harmful effects of media usage and he believes that this would help to reduce the negative impacts that we see. By educating people on the consequences of excessive media exposure, he believes that he will be able to convince people to be more careful. Many people are not aware that they are being affected by the things that they are viewing and he believes that this is why nobody is doing anything to fix the issue at hand.

He has dedicated a large part of his career to educating people on this topic and he is very pleased to see that it is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Thanks to his years of research on the topic, he has come to the conclusion that we need to grow with technology. Our society is so intertwined with technology, that completely removing it from our lives is not an option, this is why he suggests that we adapt and grow with it instead. Many people believe that the answer to cultivation theory is to lessen the amount of technology and media exposure that we have, but he strongly disagrees with this.

He believes that we have come too far in our technological advances and that removing technology would hurt us in the long run. Instead, he suggests that we learn about our limits when it comes to media and technology so that we are able to have more control over the negative effects that it has on our health. He believes that by giving people the tools and resources that they need to handle the negative effects of media, we would be able to greatly control the negative implications of violence in the media, while still being able to use media and technology as we always have.

This voice was influenced by the various articles that I read that went over cultivation theory. Throughout my research, I found many articles that talked about cultivation theory and the different applications of it throughout time. I wanted to include a voice that showcased an individual that had a background working with cultivation theory and the different types of research that it has been used to. Having the voice of a professor that taught the theory was a good way to get this perspective across. Part of his perspective was influenced by the article written by Muscari that talked about different solutions to the problems presented by cultivation theory.

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