The Influence of Firearms in Media, on our Youth
October 15, 2014
There is much debate in our country currently surrounding the issue of gun control and the normalization of violence to our youth. Extreme violence is visually portrayed in TV shows, movies, video games, and in real life on the news. Firearms are also marketed in video games, TV shows, and movies, and advertisements are increasingly targeted at children. Our youth have grown up exposed to firearms and violence in a way that generations of the past never could have been, due to technology reaching a mass of people that includes our age group, leading to a major controversy in our country. School shootings have become more common, and many of the shooters are profiled as video gamers and a part of the generation exposed to violence from an impressionable age. Is this a coincidence, a big risk factor, or possibly just one small risk factor of many? Evidence suggests that it is just one small risk factor of many; however, that does not mean there is no possible way to diffuse this issue. While it might be one risk factor of many, we should be doing our best to eliminate what is in our power to eliminate. Through observing studies that research youth exposure to video games, extreme television shows and movies, firearm marketing advertisements, and violent news stories, it is evident that steps must be taken to prevent our youth from this kind of subjection. If steps are not taken, in the form of corporate social responsibility and tighter government controls, gun violence will remain a perpetual issue in our country and aggression and desensitization of firearms will continue to increase.
Looking at studies done on youth, there is a strong correlation between video game playing and hostile emotions. Research has concluded that youth who have been asked to play violent video games for up to fifteen minutes tend towards much more aggressive feelings and mannerisms. These actions include “being more likely to expose others to loud, irritating noises, reporting feeling more hostile on a questionnaire, giving harsher, longer prison sentences to hypothetical criminals and giving hot sauce to people to swallow with previous knowledge that the individual did not like spicy food” (Markey). Though these are not real world violence issues, they do show a negative behavioral effect from playing violent video games for a very minimal amount of time. In high-risk teens who are also exposed to other risk factors in their lives, this aggression has every possibility of carrying over into real life, especially when video games are consuming much more than fifteen minutes of their day. Research psychologist Craig Anderson, who studies intense video games’ effects on youth in real life, actually concluded that the games can become “a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, cognition, and effect, and for decreased empathy and decreased pro-social behavior”. Anderson’s date suggests a plausible, more legitimate connection between shootings and real world violence with video game playing (“Violence in the Media”). Antagonistic and intensely aggressive feelings/behaviors are proving to occur more commonly in teens, and these same behaviors are warning signs for the capability of an individual to commit extreme acts of violence, like school shootings. From this research, a conclusion can be drawn that the longer the game is played, or a child is exposed to visual brutality, the more negative thoughts are created that could potentially turn into actions.
Though 97% of adolescents report video game usage, it is the obsession and long-term playing of these games that becomes the issue. For research purposes, a ‘gamer’ is described as someone who spends an average of 22 hours playing video games per week, much more than the overall video game average of 13.2 hours per week. Many school shooters