Since the beginning of time humans have gone through many changes in the way we function and develop. However, there are a few things that will remain consistent throughout human history. These things include the way we consume information and our ability learn. Psychologist Albert Bandura developed the Social Learning Theory. Bandura’s theory proves that humans learn through observing behaviors and the repetition of those observed behaviors. This theory was outlined in 1963 but it is still prevalent today. The only difference is that humans are observing and learning on a whole new level. With all the advancements in technology and media we’ve seen it recent years it is safe to say that we all are influenced by entertainment media on a daily basis. With the establishment of media streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and social mediums such as Facebook and Instagram, we are constantly absorbing content consciously and unconsciously every day. This constant ambush of influence can be positive or negative depending on the content these mediums consist of. Negative effects in attitudes and behaviors are more probable when the content consumed is riddled with violence. With current video games such as “Grand Theft Auto”, tv shows like “The Godfather”, and movies such as “Rambo” violent media is literally everywhere. The individuals that are most susceptible to violence in media are children because they are often naive and easily influenced. American author Dave Anderson once said, “Children are very impressionable.” This statement was based on a study conducted on elementary school children
Similar studies throughout the years have asked the question of if violent media can cause a child to become more violent or become insensitive to violence due to overexposure. In this experiment I chose to take this research a step further by not only examining the effects media violence has on children but also the effects it has on young adults. As far as this particular experiment children are defined as a human under the age of 18. Also for the sake of this experiment young adults are defined as humans between the age of 18 and 24. This is an intriguing topic to study because it is important that we are conscious of the effects that media has on our every day lives. It is even more important to be aware of the potential negative effects this media may have on our young people. Especially considering the fact that violent media has grown to become a heavily present form of entertainment in our current society. Gadgets such as cell phones, ipads, and laptops make media and the violence it contains more accessible than ever. This study supports the belief that the more children and young adults consume violent media, the more likely they are to develop violent characteristics and also become desensitized to violence in the real world.
Many people may view violence in media simply as a form of entertainment such as comedy, drama, etc. Older mediums such as television shows and movies actually didn’t even contain violence primarily. Initially directors used various techniques like sound effects to suggest a violent act without physically showing any violence. Throughout the years violence has become more acceptable in our society and with the introduction of graphics and special effects television and movie directors are more likely to bring their most gruesome and violent ideas to the big screen.
Video games hit the scene heavy in the 1970’s. Since then it has become one of the most commonly used mediums in America. While there are some educational video games, almost all of the most popular games contain violence in some shape or form. Today video games may be one of the most influential mediums for children and young adults because they are the individuals that are buying and playing these video games. Video games take violent media to the next level because they are interactive. Consumers are controlling these avatars, often in 1st person, as they partake in these violent activities. These games give youth a false sense of reality because most video game avatars are immortal and whenever the player “dies” they return back to life within seconds as if nothing happened. The fact that these games are interactive directly relate to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory and the concept that humans learn from observation and repetition.
All of these factors raise the concern that violence in media is ultimately negatively affecting the attitudes and behaviors of our youth. Several scholars have studied the short-term effects that media violence consumption can have on adolescent children and young adults. Various studies have shown that children and young adults are impressionable. With the presence of violence being so prevalent in today’s media there is no wonder why a large amount of our youth find violence appealing.
Doctor Vanessa Lobue (2018) gathered and analysed two small groups of children ranging from the ages 8 and 12 years old. Each group of children were shown popular children’s movies in 20-minute segments. One group was shown movies that contained characters with guns and the other group was shown movies that had characters without guns. After viewing the movies each group was placed in a room full of toys. However, to make the experiment more interesting Lobue hid a real handgun inside a cabinet in each room. For safety purposes the guns were not loaded. 83% of the children found the handgun. 58% of the children that found the handgun decided to play with it. None of the children that viewed the non-violent movies decided to pull the trigger on the handgun. On the other hand, the children in the group who did view the violent movies chose to pull the trigger at least two to three times. Some pulled the trigger over 20 times and one child even aimed the gun at another child’s head and pulled the trigger.
There were many mixed opinions about Lobue’s study, especially since her study included giving small children access to a real gun. However, I believe her study was necessary in the efforts to understanding the effects that popular media has on children. The kids who observed movie characters with guns participated in more violent behavior than the kids that didn’t.
Studying and analysing the effects of these violent mediums are more important today than they have ever been. With the recent uprise in mass shootings, terrorist-like attacks, and gang violence it is in our best interest to find the source of theses violent attitudes and behaviors to ultimately find a solution to help prevent such catastrophic events from happening so frequently.
A questionnaire will be randomly given out to 125 elementary school students, 125 middle school students, 125 high school students, and 125 college students in the Bloomington-Normal area. This questionnaire will allow us to analyze the effects of media violence in various age groups of adolescents and young adults attending college. These age groups were selected because consumers ages 5-25 are most likely to view and/or interact with media on a daily basis. This survey will be conducted in the regular classroom setting of each age group. Facilitators will be present during the survey to answer any questions, however, the intent of the survey will remain anonymous. This survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to finish.
Independent Variables: The independent variable in this particular study is the amount of media violence consumed by each child or young adult. Media violence consumption will be measured by video game, movie, and television usage.
Dependent Variable: The dependent variables will consist of 35 questions that document each respondent’s answers towards various attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions. Response categories will be based on the Likert Scale. Each response will range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. If a respondent is indifferent about a particular behavior, perception, or attitude then they may choose the “neutral” option.
These questions are opinion-based. These questions do not have a right or wrong answer. Please answer honestly. Also, refrain from writing your name on this questionnaire, all subjects will remain anonymous. Thank you in advance!
- What is your gender?
- How old are you?
- How often do you play video games?
- How often do you watch television?
- How often do you watch movies?
The following section of this survey will consist of 35 questions regarding violence in media. Please circle the number corresponding to the term that best describes how you feel about each statement.