Violent Media Effects on Viewers and Its Future Impact


Television, video games, social media, and news are all sources that may contain violent content of all degrees and target all groups. Imagine a child watching a cartoon on television, depicting a bloody battle between two parties; what can we expect this child to do to solve their problems? Imagine a teenager watching an aggressive film with scenes of stabbing or killing; what if they were raised in an environment that nourishes those violent ideas!

Violent behavior is any action by an individual that may harm the individual or others; the degree of violence varies from minor acts, such as pushing someone, to severe acts, such as killing. The media and entertainment industry often attracts viewers with deviant and extreme images and techniques; however, watching these acts continuously makes violence more palatable. Violent visual scenes will inevitably turn into real harm to oneself or others, and it will be even ingrained in the mind that aggressive reaction is the only way to resolving any conflict.

How does exposure to violent content affect children and young people?

  1. Physiological Effect

The hours a child or teenager spends watching television or playing video games have a tremendous impact on the neurotransmitters in the brain, releasing more of the hormone adrenaline (epinephrine) in response to emotional situations. In turn, excessive levels of this hormone increases stress and anxiety, which affect the heart's and arteries' health.

Likewise, exposure to provocative scenes and acts of violence, such as the sight of a gun or knife, conditions the brain for violence, making aggressive behavior more likely. This occurs by stimulating certain areas of the brain, such as the frontal lobe, which handles thinking, behavior, and decision-making, and the occipital lobe, which controls visual processing. As a result, it confuses the brain in distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined.

  1. Social Effect

We move from the preparation phase to experimentation; children and adolescents generally tend to imitate what they see, or store it temporarily in their memories. The human mind becomes active when observing a psychoactive behavior.

The child or adolescent starts employing the stored violent behavior in the situations they face, without taking into account the size of the risks associated with this act. Their reactions turn into aggression and violence towards others, leading to the spread of crime in society.

  1.  Psychological Effect

Repeated exposure to violent scenes contributes to children's indifference, and leads to a decrease in the intensity of negative emotions towards exposure to scenes of violence. For example, rapid heart rate and excessive sweating result from exposure to bloodshed, but frequent exposure gets the child accustomed and less sensitive towards them. Overall, exposure to media violence causes anxiety and stress in children, leading to cloudy thinking and a lack of understanding for the values of respect and safety.

How can we overcome this issue?

  1. A specific screen time a day must be set for watching television or playing mobile games; it can total one hour a day. During this hour, the content a child is exposed to must be determined and monitored, provided that it is completely free of any violent practices.
  2. In their free time, the child must be provided positive alternatives, such as reading books or exercising. Despite their benefits, these activities engage the mind and make it less likely to sit in front of the television for hours on end.
  3. Parents should encourage their children to participate in household chores; they strengthen self-confidence and the bonding between children and parents. Gradually, children lose interest in watching television.
  4. Consider discussing family problems away from children; they acquire their behaviors from the situations their parents face and learn from their reactions.
  5. It is important to foster open communication with children and young people about the content they watch, and to provide support and guidance to find safer alternatives.

In conclusion, we must be selective about what we and our children watch, paying attention to their mental and physical health. We are all responsible for nurturing a safe environment for the growth and development of future generations.


Cover Image By freepik

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