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Role of media violence in aggressive behaviour of adolescents

Role of media violence in aggressive behaviour of adolescents

Media has become omnipresent; it is all around you whether you want it or not. With the rapid development in digital technologies and online media, the availability of violent, explicit and age restricted content has maximized. With the older forms of media, it was difficult to promote or escalate brutality and aggressive behaviour of any kind. But now with information overload and content overflows there is no end to it. We are surrounded with various types of media, and its influence can be through online games, watching and absorbing content on YouTube videos and television. During the period of pandemic, most of us watched movies and web series on different OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony liv and multiple others. The violent, not child friendly content and use of abusive language has definitely left a mark in the minds of innocent youth. It is mandatory to watch these types of acts under the guidance of someone elder and mature to the adolescents.

Why do we say that adolescents or the youth needs guidance? Aren’t they big enough?

They might be. But their brains are still developing, they are at a very crucial stage in their lives wherein they have to take care of what all they are imbibing and how are they dealing with the realities of life. These few years are the building blocks of our lives. The attitudes, behaviours we learn in these initial years stay with us. The main reason of keeping in check what content we are watching, listening, and absorbing is important because the impact it creates on us is like an ink that writes the rest of our story.

There are numerous studies and researches that indicate that exposure to media violence is a strong predictor of aggressive behaviour. An average child may be exposed to about 10,000 violent incidents in a year. Of these, at least 500 incidents pose a high risk of the child imitating aggression and lead to them becoming desensitized to violence. It appears as if there is a reciprocal relationship between viewing media violence at a young age, aggressive behaviour and developing a taste for seeing even more media violence. Till now we have discussed about how watching negative content/ shows/ videos along with playing violent video games can result into increased aggressive behaviour. The list of ill effects doesn’t end here. Exposure to violent media and explicit content can also result in decreased empathy and prosocial behaviour. The individual is not able to differentiate between reality and fantasy and eventually loses control over his/her actions thereby indulging into acts they should not. Children who play violent video games develop a “hostile attribution bias”, meaning they are more likely to attribute aggressive intent to others. They stop assuming that somebody bumping into them is an accident and start assuming the other person meant to do it, and quickly reorient their attention to that person and respond. In this whole process they might lose their friends, colleagues and can also lose themselves, as they become a completely different individual.

What can be done?

We all can understand that it is not feasible to meet the larger societal challenge of providing children and youth with a much healthier media diet. It is quite costly, and we know that it is challenging task for the scientific, news, public policy, and entertainment communities to educate the general public about the real risks of media-violence exposure to children and youth. So, there are a few solutions we can jump to so that we might not become the predators of media violence.

  • Monitoring your child/ student might not be enough. You need to sit with them and try to explain them why the certain type of game/content is not appropriate for them.
  • If you are a parent and you are unsure about the type of video game your child is playing you can play it with them to be sure. In this manner your bonding would get better, and you will be able to guide your child in the same regard.
  • You can also use certain application locks for restricting your child from viewing age restricted content and playing harsh and displeasing video games.
  • Look for other TV shows, videos, games and books that provide positive role models to counteract the actions and attitudes that are being portrayed through today's violent super heroes.

Keeping ourselves and our future generations away from threats is what our prime concern should be. When we identify a problem, it becomes easy to find solutions for it. The relationship between media violence and real-world violence is moderated by the nature of content that is produced through various forms of media along with the characteristics and social influences on the individual exposed to that content. Still, the average overall size of the effect is large enough to place it in the category of threats to public health. Hence it becomes our duty to keep in check these warnings so that we can reduce them together and build a civilized society.

About the Author

Journalism Student from University of Delhi. Passionate for developing creative content.