Entertainment Magazine Volume 69, Issue 5

Does Violent Media Produce Violent Behavior?

by Katelyn To

One does not have to live in the United States to know that a lot of violence takes place here. Including mass shootings, suicide, child abuse, and sexual assault, violence in America is severely high compared to that in other countries. Although, many factors come into play when trying to determine the reason for such aggression. One major factor in influencing violence is the media or entertainment industry. American entertainment can be filled with horrid and glorified blood baths, and the number of times people are exposed to this type of media surely has an effect. However, this effect isn’t as large as one might expect. 

One of the most common forms of entertainment featuring violence is video games. The majority of the most popular video games on the market contain some sort of violence and are being played by kids as young as five years old. But playing violent video games does not automatically translate to violent tendencies in real life. Around 211 million people nationwide play video games and over half of the best-selling video games contain violence. Basically, millions of people play violent video games, but that doesn’t mean that those millions of people in the US display violence as well. What it does mean, however, is that those people are probably desensitized to pain and suffering of others compared to those who are not experienced to as much violence. With repeated exposure to such brutality, they may not react as strongly to violent events compared to other people. This is true for any other situation as well; after being presented with any sort of stimulus a number of times, the person will experience a decrease in response. 

On the other hand, there are two sides to this debate on the effects of violent video games on kids. One side states that they do produce violent behavior in children, while the other claims that it is only one of many factors that could contribute to violent actions. Personally, the second stance seems the most probable to me. If the first was true, violence would be much more common than it already is. The second side of the debate states that while kids who play video games may be more likely to become violent, it isn’t the video games that directly cause violent behavior. Instead, some say that kids who already have potential to express aggressive behavior are more likely to play these types of games. While this makes sense, this is probably true only to an extent. Many different types of people play video games, and this still doesn’t take into account the people who are exposed to other forms of violent media, such as movies, television shows, magazines, advertisements, and other social media platforms that may depict violence. Basically, it is inevitable that one will be exposed to it at some time in his or her life (more likely earlier than later). The only thing we can do is decrease our consumption of violent forms of entertainment when possible in order to prevent desensitization. But even then, violent media is everywhere.