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How Does The Portrayal Of Violence In Media Change The Level Of Violence In Youths?

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Violence in media is no stranger to anyone. Everyone has experienced or watched violence before in real life or through a screen. However, Violence by young people is the most visible forms of violence where fights among youths contribute to more injuries and deaths.(World Health Organization, 2002)

In 2000, an estimated 199 000 youth murders took place globally which is equal to 565 children and youths aged 10-29 dying on an average each day as a result of interpersonal violence. (World Health Organization, 2002). In my secondary school, most of the guys usually get into fights after blowing up a smaller matter.

Whenever they fight, I could see some of the fighting techniques to be somewhat similar to the WWE games. Those that really play violent video games are also mainly the ones that got into fights, while those that did not play violent video games were peaceful throughout the whole time in secondary school, although there were some exceptions.

Reasons behind youth violence are uncertain, however, the portrayal of violence in the media is considered to be one of the reasons behind violence in individuals. This paper will focus mainly on what types of the portrayal of violence are there on media and how it affects the behaviour of every youth.

Portrayal of violence

Television is one of the favourite past times of children, with cartoons being one of the main things they watch on television. However, studies show that popular cartoons are depicting 20 to 25 violent acts per hour. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009) This means that the youths may watch the violent cartoons and then try to mimic the acts they see in the cartoon. After learning the acts they see in the cartoon, it will be stored in their memory.

The effects of exposure to media violence should extend to every single type of media channel. However, there are not really any strong studies that the internet does convey the effects because of the lack of studies as the internet is a fairly new media channel.

Video games are a popular pastime for most people. However, most games played by youths are violent.97% of youths aged 12 to 17 played video games with two-thirds of them having played games that consisted of violent content. (Pew Research Center, 2008). One violent popular game which most people would know would be Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto is a game where players can steal and kill people. Video games provide an ideal environment to learn violence and many of the strategies that are most effective for learning, with some video games rewarding players to commit violent behaviour, such as in Grand Theft Auto. The youth playing it may start to think that doing those violent acts are the correct choices.

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Why do youths get easily influenced?

Youths tend to undergo observational learning when watching media, then conditioned by family and peers to create a new type of behaviour based on the media they watch, After they behave in the new way, It would be harder for anyone to correct their behaviour. They are growing up and their minds can be easily swayed by whatever they observe. (Huesmann, Bushman, & Geen, 2006, p. 156)

Media Violence make youths violent

A report done by the U.S Surgeon General show that Media violence increase aggressive attitudes and emotions, which are linked to aggressive and violent behaviour. Humans will begin to imitate other individuals at an early age and younger humans will copy behaviours by observing others because it is a instinct. An example is that the aggressive ideas suggested by a violent movie can peak other semantically related thoughts, increasing the chances that they will feel more violent. (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001)

By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), repeated exposure to violent media leads to lesser response in the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex and a decrease in right ItOFC-amygdala interaction. Reduced function in this network been associated with lesser control over a variety of behaviours, including reactive aggression. (Kelly, Grinband, & Hirsch, 2007)This makes the person more irritable, making him or her more suspectable to aggressive tendencies. Overall, it supports the finding that even short-term exposure to violent media can result In smaller responsiveness of the network related to behaviours such as aggression.

There was a classical experiment called the “Bobo Doll Experiment” hosted by Albert Bandura. Bandura and his colleagues showed one group of children in the experimental condition of a video of an adult hitting an large inflatable doll, while the other group saw a different film or nothing at all. They then left the children in a playroom with an array of toys including the Bobo doll to see how they acted. Children who saw the film of the adult hitting the doll were more likely to imitate the aggressive behaviour than those who did not watch the film or a different film. (M, 2005). The main reason that was came up was that when the children witnessed the repeated instances of aggression and see that aggression was being rewarded or approved than being punished, they would try to copy aggressors to try and obtain the same rewards for aggression.

Media violence does not make youths aggressive.

Some studies have shown that media violence does not make youths aggressive. Violent video games did not make youths more aggressive according to Chris Ferguson’s test. What Ferguson did was to get three groups of youths, one group to play violent games, one group to play non-violent games and another group to play, however, all three groups of youths were not affected at all, they did not turn aggressive despite playing the aggressive or non-aggressive game. Ferguson also argued that the reason why people would blame violent crimes on video games is the “publication bias” which scientific journals publish articles that support their hypothesis and reject articles that don’t. (Ferguson, 2007)

Some researchers state that consumption of violent media is not the only sole source of important behaviour, but it may be a risk factor that drives the already violent youth to become aggressive as there are other factors that make the youth already violent even without the consumption of violent media. Media violence is not even considered under one of the factors for youth violence because there are more prominent factors that contribute to youth violence. (S, 1989) Psychologically, media violence is usually the secondary factor that is contributing to the main factors that the aggressive youths have. Even without media violence , youths may still reach the certain level of aggressive. Media violence is just more attractable to youths. Therefore, media violence does not make youths aggressive but it is a secondary factor that may contribute to the main factors which will cause youths to be aggressive.

To some extent, violent media is also thought of to help people cathart

The Catharsis theory is thought that people who consume violent media would be less aggressive because they let go of their aggressive feelings while consuming violent media, resulting in them having little to no aggressive feelings after consuming the media. A test done by Feshbach and Singer in 1971 supports the theory. What the two people did was to vary the diet of seven boys, causing a few of the boys to watch violent and others watching neutral shows with their parents watching over them. In the end, none of the boys became more violent but actually less violent. The results did help to prove the theory correct by proving that the boys were not aggressive after watching violent media, but actually becoming less violent. (Kaplan & Singer, 1976)


In this report, I have talked about what kinds of portrayal of violence are there in the popular types of media that youths like to consume these days which are television and the internet. I have also talked about how does the portrayal of violence affect the behaviour of youths and whether all the claims of how the portrayal affects the behaviour of youths or not. As what I said in the last part of my report, the portrayal of violence is media is only a risk factor that may drive the already angry youths to become aggressive and inflict harm on others, parents are maybe the only stopping block between youths acting fine and youths inflicting harm on others. With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, televisions are manufactured with a V-chip that permits parents to block content for their kids, allowing their kids to not find violent content on the television. (Anderson, Berkowitz,Donnerstein,Huesmann,Johnson,Linz,Malamuth,Wartella, The Influence of Media Violence On Youth, 2003, p. 102). Parents can also restrict certain sites from their children to surf at. When I grow up, I am definitely going to block violent content for my own kids so as to prevent the same things that I see among the guys in my secondary school as I want my child to grow up with a healthy childhood. Media violence is something that is easily stopped in its early stages, but impossible to stop when youths integrate it into their behaviour.

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How Does The Portrayal Of Violence In Media Change The Level Of Violence In Youths? (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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