Chapter 12 contained a section on social learning and media violence which I found very interesting. Bandura’s Social Cognitive theory, learning that occurs through observing what others do (imitation), is used to explain the connection between media violence and aggression in children/adolescents. According to Deckers (2010), violence that is portrayed in the media does have an effect on children/adolescents. I agree with this 100%. I remember watching the news about the six teenagers from Long Island, NY, who launched a two hour long crime spree in which they committed a violent mugging and several break-ins and thefts before finally being caught after a car-jacking attempt. According to authorities investigating the crime, the teenagers had determined to replicate the actions of Niko Belic, the thuggish protagonist from the video game Grand Theft Auto 4.
Deckers (2010) also said the effect of viewing media violence on subsequent aggression is just as strong as the effect of smoking on the development of lung cancer. That was shocking to read about. I know violence portrayed in the media has an effect on children/teenage aggression but I didn’t think it was that bad, nor do I think it’s the only cause. I think media violence validates existing tendencies and thought processes. Physiological arousal then triggers an automatic desire to imitate the behavior being viewed. Other factors such as subjection to physical or sexual abuse, drug/ alcohol abuse, mental illnesses, and one’s social environment (i.e. family life, school, and neighborhood which one lives in) also plays a role.
Psychologist Vijai Sharma said “behind every violent child there is a troubled family, and chaotic and disorganized neighborhood.” Today there are over 7 million latchkey children because both parents have to work hard to provide for the family. As a result, the type of media that children intake is not being monitored. Also, the relationship between family members sets the tone for the home environment. A home filled with rage will most likely produce aggressive children. Children need a well structured home in which limits are clear and infractions of the rules are dealt with in a timely and consistent manner. Additionally, it has been proven that the occurrence of teenage aggression and crime is highest in neighborhoods that have a high divorce rate, residential turnover, single parent families, and a high poverty rate.
In conclusion, I believe caretakers need to step up. To be sure children are not being exposed to too much violence in the media, they need to monitor what their children watch, and educate them on what is real, and what is make believe because the media is not going to stop portraying violent things. The video below is just a small preview of all the things children can watch if they are not being monitored.
Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon.
Sharma, V. (1996). Families and Neighborhoods can Reduce Teen Violence. Anger Management Techniques, Information On Eating Disorders, Anorexia, Psychology Articles and more on Mind Publications. Retrieved from http://www.mindpub.com/art245.htm