Gone are the days when all people could watch from their television films, movies and shows that the whole family could watch. The shows that parents generally thought as safe enough for their young children are now filled with violent content. Today, the viewers are fonder of action films that show high levels of violence. Indeed, violence in television and films becomes the new high in the society.
Interestingly, violence as entertainment roots back thousands of years ago. In Egypt, the people were entertained by watching plays that re-enactment the murder of Osiris, their god. This had led to a considerable number of copycat killings. Likewise, the ancient Romans favored lethal sports. Even Saint Augustine gave proof to this by saying that the society became addicted to gladiator games ("Violence in Media Entertainment").
Although times have changed, violence still played a major role in entertainment. In fact, the number of violence depicted in media has increased. To give proof to this finding, Guy Paquette and Jacques de Guise conducted a research studying six major Canadian television networks. The researchers examined films, dramatic series and programs for children. They found out that between 1993 and 2001, physical violence increased by more than 300 percent. Specifically, the finding was that there was an average of 40 acts of violence every hour ("Violence in Media Entertainment").
The research also led to some interesting findings. Paquette and Guise found out that instances of psychological violence had increased in the last two years. The result showed that between 1993 and 1999, the incidents of psychological violence were stable. However, there was a noted increase of 325 percent between 1990 and 2001. Another interesting finding is that most of the media violence aired in Canada originated from the United States. The researchers further noted that most of the violent acts appear on TV shows before 9 in the evening and some of these shows with violent content were shown before 8 in the evening. This is the time when children are most likely at home and watching television ("Violence in Media Entertainment").
According to Anderson (2002), television is the main source of visual violence, especially for children. Many parents fear for their children, but they let them watch television where children might watch shows with violent content. Anderson (2002) adds that on the average, a child, whether supervised or not, watches around 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before he can even finish elementary school. These numbers double by the time the child reaches 18 years of age.
This problem is intensified as more teenagers go to MTV (Music Television) where they listen to 10,000 hours of rock music. Furthermore, they spend time in front of TV watching shows that contain violent and sexual contents that teenagers should not be watching (Anderson). Recent researches have shown that not only media violence increased, but they also became more sexual, more graphic and more sadistic. Movies today are all about violence where killing takes place. People can see clear images of bullets entering a person's body, of grenades exploding on people, and of persons lying in pools of blood ("Violence in Media Entertainment").
In addition, the number of casualties in movies and TV shows seem to entertain the viewers. For instance, the movie "Die Hard 2" consists of 264 deaths. The movie "RoboCop" showed 32 killed people and its sequel showed 81 killed people. Even "Silence of the Lambs" depicts a psychopath who rejoices in killing women and skinning them (Anderson). Unfortunately, children are the ones who are exposed to these violent contents. The Newsweek magazine reported that.
It gets dark early in the Midwest this time of year. Long before many parents are home from work, the shadows creep up the walls and gather in the corners, while on the carpet a little figure sprawls in the glow emanating from an anchorman's tan. There's been a murder in the Loop, a fire in a nightclub, an indictment of another priest. Red and white lights swirl in urgent pinwheels as the ambulances howl down the dark streets. And one more crime that never gets reported, because there's no one to arrest. Who killed childhood? We all did. (qtd. In Anderson)
Aside from MTV, wrestling has also become a favorite among many people, even among children. People are entertained when they see wrestlers claw at each other and beat each other violently. Likewise, most of the video games that even children have access to depict violence. Grand Theft Auto, for instance allows players to beat prostitutes to death after having sex with them ("Violence in Media Entertainment").
Despite the violent contents in the media, defenders of television programs come to the rescue by saying that what people see in TV has no bearing to their behavior. This means that when someone watches a show with violent content, he does not necessarily become violent. Anderson argues that if what people see on TV has no effect on human behavior, then TV networks must refund billions to their sponsors.TV executives argue that a commercial lasting 30 seconds can influence consumer behavior. However, they deny that a program lasting one hour can influence social behavior (Anderson).
In line with this, the issue whether media violence results to violence in society has been a topic of debates among people ("Research on the Effects"). Anderson believes that the impact of media violence is predictable. In fact, two reports in 2002 showed a link between TV violence and aggressive behavior among children and teenagers. Furthermore, the National Institute of Mental Health found out that violence shown in TV can "spill over into the playground and the streets." This is not the only proof of the relationship between TV violence and aggressive behavior. The study found out some kinds of aggression were positively correlated with the amount of TV viewing (qtd. In Anderson).
The finding of the National Institute of Mental Health is supported by several findings of long-term studies. A study conducted by psychologist Leonard Eron of the University of Illinois showed that the TV habits of children affect their aggressive behavior from childhood to adolescent years. The study further showed that the more violent the TV show was, the more aggressive the behavior was. Based from his results, Eron concluded that the relationship between watching violence on TV and aggression is cumulative (Anderson).
Twenty years after this first study, Eron and several of his researchers noticed the repetition of this pattern. Their study showed that the children who watched frequently watched TV violence were more likely to commit crimes at 30. The results of their research were proof that watching TV violence is a cause of aggressive behavior, crime and violence in the society. Furthermore, they proved that TV violence affects children and teenagers of all ages, genders and socioeconomic levels (Anderson).
The results of studies mentioned in this article are proof of the relationship between watching too much films, movies, and TV shows containing violence and violence in the society. Exposure to violence in the media from a very early age can result to unwanted behavior among viewers. Although there are some experts who still question the effect of media violence on social violence, the results shown in this article are enough to convince viewers to protect their children from watching too much television unsupervised.