In a world such as ours today with troubles overseas, environmental hazards, political issues, and deficit crunches that frighten individuals to worry about another Great Depression, do we need media hyping violence and bloody killings viewed by our youth and adolescents via the social media? The media is a powerful tool to influence the way in which people cognitively breaks down issues and behaves as a result of what they are visually being exposed to.
I recently viewed a program where two girls, age 12, in Waukesha, Wisconsin were charges as adults for attempting to murder their friend in an effort to prove loyalty to a fictional character on the Internet. “Slender Man” is a faceless creature who talks and terrorizes people, especially children. To most youngsters, they are not sure if he is real or fictional. However, these two girls were convinced that he was a real person and they wanted to prove their loyalty to him by killing their best friend. They took her into the woods and viciously stabbed her 19 times this past summer. They showed no remorse, and both girls were absolutely numb and desensitized by the violence that they had performed. Miraculously, their friend survived the brutal stabbings. This behavior is directly linked to the media that encourages such violence via the Internet.
Not only can violent exposure by viewers create deviant and aggressive behaviors and thoughts, but more crucial than this can be the impact it can leave on the audience. A desensitizing effect, which can reduce empathy towards others, can supersede all this exposure from television and movies. Media violence can create havoc and a downward trend on qualities that lie within an individual to cause them to become blind sighted by the feelings of others (Stampler, 2014). As in the case of these two 12- year olds, their violent behaviors did not have any impact on their feelings or actions. There was no remorse whatsoever. They became numb and desensitized to the brutality that they displayed.
Increased aggression is the framework of social cognitive theory by has individuals view media violence. Also, it can involve an individual to view aggression as an acceptable tool, which will ultimately reduce empathy for a victim who is suffering (Bushman & Anderson, 2009; Huesmann & Miller, 1994).
Regarding our children and adolescents, the mental maturity of the child depends on different stages of his cognitive development regarding media violence. These factors regarding the cognitive development can depict how the violence is perceived and interpreted, along with the exposure and consequences of it. The exposure to media violence such as movies, video games and television can present a major risk to their health, both physically and mentally. Evidence has proven that media violence can encourage and instill desensitization to violence in children, as well. They can become violent; suffer from nightmares, and exhibit and aggressive behavior.
Interaction needs to play a role in the violence that is portrayed and exonerated by social media. Children need more literacy interaction, and a medium that leans toward sound educational programs that will be useful and effective. Exposure to interactive media that encourages violence can lead to negative effects regarding the mental and physical health of children. Not only does it encourage violence, but it leads to pro-social behaviors in children. Video games allow the player to become the aggressor who in turn is rewarded by successfully performing violent behaviors. This type of interaction cam encourages children and youth to demonstrate patterns of pathologic actions through their playing these types of games. It also encourages the violence through this type of media interaction (Funk, 2004).
Interactions for children and adolescents need to be taken whether it be by the pediatricians or parents who deal with the children. Pediatricians can entertain children in their waiting rooms through educational video games and television networking, and promote education. At home parents need to supervise the timeframe that their children spend on the Internet, forms of media, and videos that encourage violence. More educational and soothing forms of media should be encouraged. Parents should supervise more activities and programs that their children become involved with. Hopefully in time, the scale will be heavily geared toward media that instills learning and caring qualities that allow adolescents to function as righteous, sympathetic human beings to others and themselves in the real world as opposed to individuals become numb, desensitized and lacking empathy towards others..
Bushman, B., & Anderson, C. (2009). Comfortably numb: Desensitizing effects of violent media on helping others. Psychological Science, 20, 273-277.
Funk, J. B., Baldacci, H. Pasold, T. and Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: Is there desensitization?” Journal of Adolescence. 27(1) 23-29.
Huesmann, L. R., & Miller, L. S. (1994). Long-term effects of repeated exposure to media violence in childhood. In L. R. Huesmann (Ed.), Aggressive behavior: Current perspectives (pp. 153-168). New York, NY:Plenum Press.
Stampler, L. (2014). ‘Slender Man’ Internet Meme Inspires Two 12-Year-Olds To Attempt Murder. Time. Retrieved October 20, 2014: http://time.com/2817624/slender-man-murder-charge-waukesha/