Media Violence Effect and Desensitization of Children


Previous research on the topic of media violence affects children demonstrates a close relationship between media violence and the likelihood of violence. The relationship between media violence and children’s values and behaviors attributes to the fact that children spend more than 4 hours each day on the media. Video, television, and music depict media violence to the children. This significantly increases the chances of media violence affecting children’s attitudes, behaviors, believes, and lifestyles. There are various ways through which media violence affects children and include desensitization to pain caused by violence, aggression, violent behaviors, and fear of harm.

Introduction and Motivation

Media violence forms a high percentage of information and entertainment presented to the public through various forms and media channels. Of the most played video games, 100% have instances of violence towards other people, a large percentage of television programs on prime time present violent circumstances, and over 50% of videos of songs accessible to the public portray violence (Valkenburg 58). These statistics present evidence of media violence perpetrated by program producers, video game developers, and singers. Media violence has various effects on the public, especially to the children, because children cannot differentiate reality from fantasy (Freedman 135). The other reason why media violence affects children is that young children believe in the media and imitate models.

The main motivator for this study on media violence effect on children is the rise in children’s violence. Most of the instances of children violence, some of them fatal, attributes to the prevalence of media addiction. The need for adults to be conscious of the media violence effect on children is vital. This will make them take measures to guide their children on using and watching media channels and other paths of accessing information. This study presents various media violence effects on children. Another motivation is the development of technology, which leads to the portrayal of media as a reality, hence have greater persuasion.

Case Discussion

Media violence has the effect of making children develop aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior. The main reason for this effect is the children’s imitation of observed representation on the media (Valkenburg 39). Media violence portrayed in a realistic manner makes the children imitate the behavior in real life, hence show an aggressive attitude towards their peers. They also develop violent behavior to equal the behavior portrayed in the media. Media violence that depicts the use of violence as a way to get back to “bad guys” make children use violence as a technique of resolving conflict among peers.

The other effect of media violence in children is the development of fear of harm. Media violence makes children perceive the world as a precarious place to live in, hence they have the tendency to act violently as protection. The fear of harm in the world motivates children to carry weapons, which they readily use against others as a mode to guard themselves against harm. Children develop a belief in getting them before being caught by the bad people portrayed in movies, videos, and music.

The other media violence effect on children is the desensitization to violence as a cause of pain to others (Gentile 135). This has the effect of increasing retaliation tendencies to provocation by being violent and increases the perception of others acting violently towards them. Media violence acts as a justification of violence by the children and increases violent tendencies in the children due to a lack of fear of consequences. It also results in the lack of empathy by children to the pain suffered by other people, hence increasing their tendency to be violent to other people.

Nightmares and sleep disturbances are the other effect of media violence on children (Kirsh 93). High quantity of media violence affects children psychologically leading to the lack of sleep. They can also have nightmares of being victims of the violence depicted in the media. This changes their predisposition to violence and they may want to fight back and protect their selves in real life. This increases their tendency to be violent, hence another media violence effect on children.

Active participation in the form of the playing video games increases the media violence effect on children (Gentile 108). Video and other interactive media are addictive, and children play them for long periods, hence perfecting the play while being affected profoundly. Children have the propensity to practice whatever they learn in real life, therefore, playing violent video games has an effect of increasing violence in children (Kirsh 130).


In conclusion, media violence has negative effects on children with a high number of them developing aggressive behavior, fearing the presence of harm in the world and lack of sleep and nightmare occurrence in their sleep. The other negative effects of media influence include desensitization to violence on other people and an active increase in the violence level of the children. From the study, there is a need for parents to view programs with children and offer advice in order to reduce the chances of developing negative behaviors from watching violent incidences in the media.

Works Cited

Freedman, Jonathan. Media Violence and Its Effect on Aggression: Assessing the Scientific Evidence, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 2002. Print.

Gentile, Douglas. Media Violence and Children: A Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals, London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Print.

Kirsh, Steven. Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at the Research, New York: Sage, 2006. Print.

Valkenburg, Patti. Children’s Responses to the Screen: A Media Psychological Approach, London: Taylor & Francis, 2004. Print.

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