16. Fenigstein A. (1979). “Does aggression cause a preference for viewing media violence?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2307-2317.
This means that everybody in the community must become involved if we are all to minimize the affects of violence in media on our children. There is a large chance that the violence in the media can propagate the interface and can directly, or indirectly, affect the viewers, especially children. At the same time, however, the same media can also be used to negate the harmful affects. There should be more awareness shows on television that teach children the hazards of violence and these must try to grab their attention without the use of violence or other objectionable material. “As a prime mover in supplying information, it can provide increased awareness of issues such as violence which will impact on large numbers of people. It is our hope that many will seek solutions to such problems by becoming more sophisticated users of what is available to them in the media. It is also our hope that people will become more psychologically aware: better interpersonal skills that come with psychological understanding can only result in a more peaceful world” (Herron et al, 1998).
Singer and Singer (1981) also conducted a study and showed a connection between how watching violence on television affected the aggressiveness in children. This study was conducted on nursery school age children for 1-year. “At four times during the year, 2-week periods were designated as probes during which parents kept logs of their children's television viewing. Meanwhile, observers recorded instances of aggressive behavior by the children during school hours. When data were combined across all four probes, aggressive behavior was found to be significantly correlated with the total amount of time spent in watching “action-adventure” programs, all of which manifested high levels of violence. This effect was found for both boys and girls.
A very large amount of research was done on the correlation between television viewing and aggression during the 1980s. “One such investigation was the final phase of a longitudinal project begun in the late 1950s by Eron and his associates (Eron, Walder, & Lefkowitz, 1971). The research began with the study of third-grade students in a rural county in upstate New York. Each child's level of aggressiveness was assessed through ratings made by parents, peers, and the children themselves; each child's preference for violent television programs was also measured. Measures of the same variables were obtained 10 and 22 years later from many of the same children. The method of cross-lagged panel correlation was used for analysis of the data. The results of the 10-year follow-up (Lefkowitz, Eron, Walder, & Huesmann, 1977) revealed that among boys the amount of televised violence watched during third grade was positively correlated with aggressiveness 10 years later, whereas the correlation between aggressiveness during Grade 3 and the amount of violent television watched a decade later was essentially zero. Following the assumptions of cross-lagged correlation analysis, Eron and his associates inferred a causal relation between observing violence and aggressiveness from these data. For girls, both correlations were not significantly greater than zero. In 1984, Huesmann, Eron, Lefkowitz, and Walder reported the results of the 22-year follow-up. A positive relationship between childhood television viewing and subsequent aggressiveness was again suggested: The seriousness of crimes for which males were convicted by age 30 was significantly correlated with the amount of television that they had watched and their liking for violent programs as 8-year-olds. Again, aggressiveness at age 8 was not related to either overall viewing practices or preference for violent programs at age 30” (Geen, 1994).
Friedrich-Cofer and Huston (1986) provide a detailed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of these studies. Also, Wood, Wong & Chachere (1991) also reported the results and meta-analysis of 28 filed experiments that were conducted between 1956 and 1988. “The studies included in this analysis were chosen because they investigated the effects of media violence on aggression among children and adolescents during unconstrained social interaction with strangers, classmates, and friends. Wood and her colleagues concluded that media violence does enhance aggression in such settings and that, because all the experiments involved short-term immediate reactions to observed violence, the effects may be due to temporary changes in affect and arousal as well as to long-term processes like modeling” (Geen, 1994).
Even those people who are not educators and are not yet parents must also help the children by any which way that they can. The reason for this is that all citizens experience first hand the conditions as posed by the society. The children of today are going to grow up to form the societies of tomorrow. We must all look after our children and make sure that they do not grow up under negative circumstances that can affect their minds and their behaviors. “Our concerns about violence should not only include the need to monitor the kinds of programs our children watch but to advocate an understanding of the personal, family and societal issues which cause violence and determine what role television can play in reaching that understanding” (Herron et al, 1998).
A comprehensive literature review has been presented herein that has purported the role that media can play in the aggressiveness of the viewers. It can be concluded that even though media can play a big role in the way a person grows up to react in a negative way, it is not the only factor that is to be taken in consideration. “But to the extent to which the media can influence behavior and facilitate the expression of violence in certain individuals, it is important that carefully designed interventions be implemented. This is particularly the case since the media can also have clear educational influences in teaching a prosocial message and the complexity of human motivation as shown in our analysis” (Herron et al, 1998) of the various literature presented above. Television is a very popular media and it is expected that people, especially children, will continue to watch television and their lives will continue to be affected by the various programs and shows that they watch. It is very important today, for all the parents, teachers, and model citizens, to get involved and try to make the affects of media as non-violent on our children as possible.
So far, the evidence that has been collected from various types of studies, including laboratory experiments, field experiments, longitudinal studies, and archival studies, are in favor of the notion that viewing violence on television does have adverse affects on the aggressiveness of the subjects who are watching the programs. These studies have focused on children, adolescents and young adults, and a wide range of constrained and unconstrained behaviors. Even though there might be many limitations to these studies due to the large number of population and the small number of sample, the results from so many researchers have seemed to point to the same direction. “Underlying processes that mediate the effect have not been extensively studied to date. However, some promising developments in theory are taking place, involving the development of models derived from affective, cognitive, and motivational psychology. The debate over the consequences of television violence for aggression is by no means over, and future studies of the problem will benefit from both the large literature on the subject and the emergence of the new theoretical approaches” (Geen, 1994).
All the parents must monitor the television watching activities of their children. The parents must make sure that they sit and watch television with their children and keep explaining to them what is going on. The children need to know how the violent images shown on television are not real and that they should not try to emulate what they see on television. Parents should not use television as a 'babysitter' and must make the television viewing experience a family affair with the children. “It is our contention that the abdication of parental responsibilities and the erosion of the family are major contributors to the increasing number and the severity of the societal problems we face, including our subject, violent behavior” (Herron et al, 1998).
Various scholars and researchers have tried to explain the relationship between television violence and aggression in different ways. “Until recently, such explanations were based on theoretical concepts that were popular during the 1960s, such as disinhibition, arousal, and activation of conditioned responses. During the 1980s, two new theoretical explanations emerged, both of which are based on more recent cognitive models of behavior” (Geen, 1994).
So what is the conclusion that we come to? Is the violence in media bad for the children, or is some of it necessary? Does viewing violence on television have any adverse affects on the children? Is it the nature of television programming that is more harmful or just watching any kind of television bad? Although many of the laboratory experiments that have been reviewed herein suggest that there is a positive relationship between aggressiveness and television viewing, the research remains inconclusive. But it will not be wrong to face the direction of thought that violence in the media does lead to aggressive behavior, as pointed out by the longitudinal studies that were conducted during the 1980s. “The issue may never be settled to everyone's satisfaction, and certainly more research, using state-of-the-art methodology, is needed to settle the many remaining problems before conclusive evidence may be forthcoming. Even so, at the present time we do appear to have a fairly large amount of what Cook and his colleagues (1983) have called “circumstantial evidence” for a hypothesis that observation of violence on television produces some increase in aggressiveness of the viewers” (Geen, 1994)