Violence in mass communication is a controversial debate that becomes more relevant as society is continuously exposed to various sources of media. The influence of media is creating the opinion that showing violence may have psychological and societal effects that perpetuate such behaviors and crimes in real life. My personal opinion stands at the fact that due to the proven influence that media has on social behavior, it should responsibly address violence. It should indicate the associated dangers and draw a line between fiction and reality. Although media violence is popular with viewers resulting in tremendous revenue, the industry should consider the socio-psychological effects.
One of the essential functions of mass media is the surveillance of the environment. It involves the continuous surveillance of events ongoing in society and providing information to the people. The media relays the news and provides coverage on various topics and issues. Violence is common in such content, particularly the news. Violence and crime are often emphasized and receive disproportionate coverage. Especially brutal crimes such as homicide and domestic abuse receive particularly close attention. To create sensational interest, there is purposeful exaggeration or bias in reporting the news as violence is more likely to attract a person’s attention. (Reese & Lee, 2012). The coverage and perspectives on violence as a common and glorified event begin to have social effects. The continuous exposure to violence begins to establish it as the norm, both in media and real life.
Such reasoning leads to the assumption that media violence has profound psychological effects. Studies indicate that mass media, particularly visual sources such as television creates a learning environment that begins to stimulate and condition the human mind. Some people are more impressionable than others, but certain patterns of thought appear to everyone. Exposure to media violence may cultivate fear, cause anxiety, or imprint patterns of power and risk. The most dangerous social influence comes with the raised tolerance of violence and injustice. There are obvious behavioral tendencies formed with exposure to violence in media, particularly at a young age that creates a sense of mistrust and danger, severely distorting the perception of reality. It may lead to social behaviors such as separation and selfishness. Media violence is directly correlated to aggressive thoughts and emotions, which most often lead to similar behaviors (Claudia, 2016). Mass media has become especially influential in the modern age; therefore, it can set certain behavioral standards in society.
The unpopular and opposing viewpoint suggests that violent media does not cause negative or unusual behavior. For example, the common association between violent video games and real-world aggressive behavior is scientifically unproven. Only a small percentage of people exhibit such traits, the majority of which formed by external life influences. Meanwhile, there is the support that violent video games and films can be used as a source to relieve stress and socialize as it is a popular pastime (Massachusetts General Hospital, 2012). These arguments are logical and present a different and rational perspective on an issue that is very controversial. Nevertheless, the risks of media violence exposure should be considered. Even if the percentage of negatively affected individuals is very small, the resulting violence and aggressive behaviors from each person may result in crimes and tragedy. Research highlights the principle of causality between exposure to media violence and violent behavior. It is an influential process that occurs over time. Violent media is not a direct cause of such behavior; however, it contributes to certain psychological risks that warrant aggression (Bushman & Anderson, 2015).
Bushman, B., & Anderson, C. (2015). Understanding causality in the effects of media violence. SAGE Journals, 59(14), 1807-1821. Web.
Claudia, M.E. (2016). Psychological effects of mass media on the consumers – A review. Romanian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 7(1), 143-145. Web.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2012). Research shows violent media do not cause violent behavior. Web.
Reese, S., & Lee, J. (2012). Chapter 20: Understanding the content of news media. In H. A. Semetko & M. Scammell (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of political communication (pp. 134-146). New York, NY: SAGE.