The Impact of Violence in the Media

The Impact of Violence in the Media

This and my next post (on reality TV) focuses on the relationship between television/movies/music and our culture. I will be asking you the question, “Does what we watch influence our thoughts, actions or viewpoints?” Before you answer, I want to share a few stories with you.

Caution: This first story is very disturbing. Teachers please watch ahead of time to decide if this is appropriate for your students and something you want to tackle in class.

In late September, 2012, a 17 year-old-boy watched the horror film remake Halloween.  He became intrigued by the ease at which, the main character in the movie, was able to kill without remorse. He watched the movie over and over again. Afterward, he openly wondered if he could kill someone and have a similar reaction. In a 4-page written confession, he wrote, “I just sat in the living room thinking about how I was going to kill my family.” On October 3, 2012, he stole a gun from his Grandpa and killed his mom and his little sister.  For further details, click on the following link:

Author’s Perspective: For years I have asked teachers and parents the following question, “Why are the ethics of Americans declining?” One of the many reasons that we discuss is the media. To some extent, what we spend our time doing (TV, video games, Internet, texting, movies, music) has to alter the way we view reality. Studies in the 1970’s document that children exposed to aggressive acts were much more likely to be violent than children exposed to calm acts. (article) (video)

Current studies on the effects of violent video games basically demonstrates the same thing – those exposed to violent video games had a spike in violent behavior. (very long research article)

These studies should not be a shocker to anyone. As parents we monitor what our kids watch on TV and routinely say, “No…It’s not appropriate.” Why? Because we did not like our oldest daughter’s behavior toward her younger siblings after watching shows like Spoungebob or Ben10 that involve fighting and meanness. For us, the effect was obvious.

Back to Our Story: I realize that millions have watched the movie Halloween and have not gone on to injure or kill anyone. However, for this seemingly normal adolescent boy, it changed his life and the life of his family. By the way, after killing his mother and sister, he wrote, “I know now though that I’m done with killing. It’s the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever.”

I am just asking you to be conscious of the media and technology that you consume.  It’s the old adage, “You are what you eat.”

Your Turn
1) Do you find this story as sad and disturbing as I do?
2) Do you believe that what we watch/listen to/spend our time on can affect our perceptions of reality? Our Behavior? Our ethics? Can you think of any examples?
3) Should we do anything as a society to limit the violence that is available on TV, video games or at the movies the way they do in Europe or is that a violation of our freedoms?

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