Television remains the single most influential medium in the lives of young people. However, a three-year National Television Violence Study found: "two-thirds of all programming contains violence; children's programs contain the most violence; the majority of all entertainment programming contains violence; violence is often glamorized; and the majority of perpetrators go unsanctioned" (Muscari 2002).
Television violence is graphic, realistic and involving, shows inequity and domination, and portrays most victims as women, children and the elderly (Muscari 2002). Children tend to focus on the more intense scenes, such as violent moments, rather than story components, and these "aggressive acts lead to a heightened arousal of the viewer's aggressive tendencies, bringing feelings, thoughts and memories to consciousness and can cause outwardly aggressive behavior" (Muscari 2002).
When video games were introduced in the 1970's, they quickly became a favorite pastime for children, and now make up a $10+ billion industry. Today, children average 90 minutes of game time per day, and may experts believe that the "mechanical, interactive quality of 'first-person shooter' games make them potentially more dangerous than television or movies" (Muscari 2002). In fact, many of the young school shooters, including those at Columbine, were obsessed with video games, yet had little or no experience with real guns prior to their shooting sprees (Muscari 2002). For example, the 14-year-old killer in Paducah, Kentucky, never moved his feet as he fired at each of his victims as if they were popping up on a screen, and the Columbine killers "methodically moved from room to room, stalking and killing their victims, laughing; a hallmark of video game, as well as movie and television violence, known as 'funny violence'" (Muscari 2002). Rebecca M. Chory-Assad reports in the December 2005 issue of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media that "not only do video games contain violent material, but higher levels of aggressive thought and behaviors have been observed among individuals who play these types of games" (Chory Assad 2005).
Music plays an important influence on adolescents because it helps to define important social and sub-culture boundaries, and while music is not typically a danger to adolescents, there are a number of teens whose preference for music with seriously destructive themes may be a marker for alienation, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and other risk-taking behaviors (Muscari 2002). Heavy metal and rap have caused great concern because many of the lyrics not only condone but encourage violent acts, particularly toward women, and tend to glorify guns, rape and murder (Muscari 2002).
Moreover, music videos often portray overt violence and depict individuals carrying weapons, thus when teens hear the song again on the radio or disk player, they will flashback to the video scenes (Muscari 2002).
During the 1960's, studies indicated that females were immune to the effect of television violence, however by the 1980's that was no longer true (Kirn 2006). What has changed is that images portrayed by the media have become more violent, and the heroes have become as violent as the bad guys and many of these heroes are female (Kirn 2006). In one recent study, children were brought into a laboratory to play a video game that involved dropping bombs. In one group the subjects were introduced to one another and in the second group, the children remained anonymous (Kirn 2006). In the first group, the boys dropped more bombs during the game than the girls, an average of 31 bombs versus 27 bombs, yet in the second group, the girls had a greater increase and tended to drop more bombs than the boys, an average of 41 bombs versus 37 bombs (Kirn 2006).
Timothy F. Kirn notes in the September 2006 issue of Family Practice News that "smoking accounts for 10% of the variance in lung cancer. Television violence accounts for 15% of the variance in teenagers' violent behavior" (Kirn 2006). Thus, it appears certain that media violence has a dramatic negative effect on behavior.
Chory-Assad, Rebecca M. (2005 December 01). Effects of affective orientation and video game play on aggressive thoughts and behaviors. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Retrieved January 16, 2007 from HighBeam Research Library.