Free research paper example on Violence:
At birth, a baby’s brain has approximately 100 billion nerve cells. These cells are not yet fully mature and lack the critical connections that determine an individual’s emotional, social, and intellectual make-up. Most of these gaps disappear by the time the child is six years old, but the brain remains greatly impressionable well into teen years. By the age three, a child’s brain has twice as many synapses as an adult’s brain. This suggests that children are biologically primed to learn in the early stages of life. The material and environment children are exposed to during this crucial stage builds the standards of right and wrong. If a child lives in an environment where violence appears to be acceptable, the child will form a connection and often accept the behavior as appropriate. When a child establishes a connection, and the connection is reinforced in the early years, it becomes permanent. A connection that is used rarely, or not at all, is unlikely to survive. For example, studies show that a child who is rarely spoken to or read to in the early years may have difficulty mastering language skills later in life. Similarly, a child who is exposed to violent acts on a regular basis often experiences a wide range of side effects as a child, and also as an adult (Television Viewing). Before the days of advanced video games, television, and movies different forms of violence impacted children. It is documented that Hawaiian teachers perceived an extreme increase in violent play after the bombing of Pearl Harbor (Arnold 65).
With advances in technology, children can now watch the destruction of Pearl Harbor on DVD on a daily basis. The media has become a major influence on the minds of children. Profits from a single movie reach well into the multi-million dollar range. Over 219 million televisions, and 144 million computers are owned within the United States alone (CIA Factbook). The media has become increasingly available to children in recent years. Television, movies, and video games are produced and marketed to appeal exclusively to children. In order to maximize profits, this specialized media is often interlaced with violence. The movie industry alone creates a large amount of violence-saturated films. These films are then marketed to appeal to youth. Dartmouth University conducted a study in which they asked if 5,456 children and teenagers had seen 50 selected top box office movies. These movies had been identified to contain the most violence out of the top 600 box office films. They contained scenes of sadistic rape, sodomy, brutal or ritualistic murders, and cannibalism. On average, each subject had seen 28% of the violent rich movies. The lead Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School stated, “Demand for seeing violent movies is spurred by the adverting practices of the media industry. Through movies adolescents are being exposed to brutal and often sexualized violence ” (Leeds). This sort of violence is presented to children not only in movies, but on a daily basis through television. Violence is no longer isolated to post bedtime hours but floods prime time television. Ladies Home Journal estimated that the average American child observes the destruction of 13,000 human beings between the hours of 4 and 9 (Television Viewing). It is estimated that 3-5 acts of violence are shown in ever hour of prime time television. (Fitzgerald A1) This number grows dramatically to 25-30 acts of violence when viewing a full hour of children’s cartoons (Television Viewing). These cartoons, which are often seen as harmless, can produce long-term problems. Children who watched the popular cartoons “Road Runner” and “Starsky and Hutch” on a regular basis were found to be more violent in adulthood nearly 15 years later. (Minds of Babes). Similar results exist for children who were exposed to a variety of television programs for extended periods of time. A recent study analyzed data of 707 people over a period of 17 years measuring television viewing habits and aggression at various times. The study went on to find the 6% of the 14 year olds who watched less than one hour of television a day went on to engage in threats and violent acts, in comparison to 29% who watched more than three hours a day (Media Violence) The average American child watches between 4.5 – 5 hours of television per day (Television Viewing). The daily consumption of violent media is also boosted by the prevalence of video games. Approximately 70 % of children from third to twelfth grade own a video game player. Of the 70%, 45% state they play the games in their room the majority of the time. (Steinberg 16) Video games are the newest and possibly most dangerous wave of media violence. Games with violent images gross large profits. “Streetfighter” made 1.3 billion dollars in 1993. Furthermore, the bloodier Sega version outsold the less gruesome Nintendo version 7 to 1 (Goldstein). Video games such as “Streetfighter” are considered a greater threat to the mental health of children because children take an active part in the violence being demonstrated. A study at the University of Utrecht was conducted on students while they watched a violent 10-minute excerpt from “Rambo.” Results of students who held a remote were compared to those who did not. The gory scenes much less affected the subjects who held the remote. The ones who controlled the violence taking place in front of them were numbed to it (Leeds). Practices like these are comparable to what it used to desensitize soldiers in preparation for combat. David Grossman, an army psychologist stated, “One of the most effective and widely used simulators developed by the US Army in recent years us nothing more than a modified Super Nintendo game. In fact it closely resembles the game Duck Hunt ” (Children and Violence) The desensitization video games create has been measured in a recent study. Researchers in Indiana measured the effects of “WWF Smackdown” on the players brain. The study monitored the parts of the brain involved in emotional control and inhibition of behavior. The anger portion of the brain showed amplified readings, while the buffer, or restraint part of the brain became less active (Dunnewind D1) The effects of video games have been linked to crimes such as the Colombine and Jonesboro shootings. In both cases gunman were owners and devoted players of violent video games. Dozens of other cases have been connected with video games. In Flint, Michigan a 6 year old boy shot a 6 year old peer. The boy learned gunmanship from point and shoot video games (Steinberg 18). The effects of violent media has on children are measurable and long lasting. A joint statement made by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychological Association states that there are well over a thousand studies based on over 30 years of research proving the harmful effects of exposing children to violence (Joint Statement). It is important that the intake of television, movie, video game and other forms of violent and potentially violent media are monitored in order to foster the development of youth.
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