Guest Post: Do Violent Movies Take a Leading Role in Media?

by | Sep 10, 2018 | Guest Posts, Opinion

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has recently held the media responsible for violent movies and video games. The NRA feels that the violent movies and video games are the causes of the mass violence we are experiencing in our society. According to the CEO, fantasizing about killing people to get your kicks is filthy, and could spike violence in the players.

So, is the NRA correct to believe this? Let’s look at what research has to say.

Several factors lead to aggressive behavior

Experts agree that there isn’t a single factor that can cause a violent or a nonviolent person to act aggressively. Some studies suggest that massive exposure to violent content might be a risk factor for violent behavior. Kids who are exposed to various risk factors such as conflict, aggression and substance abuse at home are prone to acquiring an aggressive behavior than those who grow up in different situations.

No direct relationship

Some researchers had suggested that the Columbine High School shooters were pros at playing video games. However, one of the shooter’s roommates said that they viewed him as odd because he never played video games with the others. That leaves us with the query on whether the violent behavior depicted in these movies makes any sense. Well, on the surface, one might imagine that pulling the trigger in these games is worse than watching a violent film. There has been ample research on violent images affect kids’ behavior.

A study – Violent films affect people with abrasive personalities

According to a survey, violent movies and games might make someone aggressive, but only if the person had an abrasive personality from the onset. Bloody scenes have been found to have different effects on passive characters. The connection between video games and X-rated films has been debated over the past few years. So, the scientists carrying out this research sought to establish the exact relationship.

The scientists examined the brains of two distinct groups of people to know what happened when they watched violent scenes. They concluded that a person’s behavior was dependent on the level of aggressiveness they had from the beginning.

The research involved 54 men. They were split into two categories; those who were calm and those who had a history of physical assault. Their brains were observed as they watched a sequence of street fights and shootings on the first day. On the second day, they were shown images of emotional but nonviolent scenes, such as that of people interacting during a flood. On the third day, they weren’t shown anything.

As the aggressive group watched the violent scenes, they were observed to have little activity in the orbito-frontal cortex, which is the part that is in-charge of self-control and related emotional decisions. The subjects reported that they did not feel upset, but instead felt more determined and inspired. This was the opposite of what the calm subjects felt.  Their blood pressure was also lower than that of those in the calm group.

During the last day when they were not shown any movies, the aggressive participants had high brain activity in the brain regions known to be active when one is idle. This shows that they have a varying brain function map from their nonaggressive counterparts.

The researchers felt that they had adequate reasons to believe that the response of a person to the environment is dependent on the brain of that person. Aggression is a trait that develops along with the nervous system starting in childhood. Behavior patterns are instilled, and the nervous system takes over these patterns into adulthood, where they become a person’s personality. This means that if a child is exposed to aggression from a tender age, they are likely to continue the behavior into adulthood.

Does the availability of firearms have an impact on violence?

There doesn’t seem to be an apparent relationship between youth violence and violent video games. Surprisingly, U.S. has a more significant number of homicide cases than Japan, yet Japan plays more video games than the U.S. does. In fact, the rate of playing video games across the U.S. is decreasing. The difference between the two nations is that Japan is stricter with regards to the issuance of firearms. This implies that we ought to exercise more responsibility in handling firearms. 

What is the parents’ role?

The Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents are partly responsible for their children’s behavior. They can choose to expose their children to media that reflects their values, and resist the content that doesn’t.

Media and technology come with various benefits, such as its potential to educate children. However, it should be used positively to teach positive, valuable skills. Before allowing your kid to watch any content that’s out there, make sure you vet it thoroughly. That way, you will protect them from the harmful stuff.

The increase in violence among our youths is something to be concerned about. It‘s possible that violent movies and video games could be an underlying cause for the rise in cases of school violence. Some studies have suggested that there might be a direct relationship. Another study concluded that violent movies have an impact on people who were already violent from the onset.  However, more research is required before making conclusive remarks. All the same, parents have a role to play in ensuring that violence in school doesn’t get any worse, by bring them up with the right morals. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – or better yet, join the discussion happening now in our chatroom! For more from our guest author, Jay, click here.

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