Mass media has seen an exponential growth over the last few decades. The dictionary definition of media is communication channel through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media includes every broadcasting and narrow casting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet. Over the years, media has established itself as an important entity in our daily lives and consequently our dependency on media for our functioning has increased.
Due to our increased reliance on media and the fact that media is now as strong as ever, it is difficult to conceal news belonging to any part of the world including morbid and gruesome news regarding violence and brutality. It has now become a common practice in media outlets to have an exclusive coverage of violent events such as police shelling, killings, and shootings. However, the spread of such barbaric scenes is not only limited to the established media i.e: TV, radio or newspaper. The new generation media such as social media, video games, interactive platforms, and e-papers have also jumped on the mainstream media band-wagon and exhibits all of the above stated events. Social media is contemporary world’s strongest form of media as almost everyone with a cell phone has access to some form of social media and hence, has seen the explicit exhibition of brutality and violence on the platform.
This portrayal of violence has greatly affected people worldwide and there have been numerous studies to study the effects this has created on an individual. After a detailed study on the disturbing findings about the contents of children’s programs on TV, the Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior was formed that assessed the impacts of violence on the attitudes and, values and behavior of the viewers. The resulting report of this committee was made in 1982 that identified some major effects seeing violence on television. It stated that children become less sensitive to suffering and pain of others, they may become more fearful of the world around them and may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways towards others.
Video game technology is relatively new and therefore there are fewer studies of video game violence than other forms of media violence but still, several reviews have reported negative effects of exposure to violence in video games. A 2010 review by psychologists found evidences to strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and for decreased empathy and pro social behavior. An earlier research showed that playing violent video games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in daily life. One major conclusion from this and other research on violent entertainment media is that content matters
An online game manufacturing company have published the results of a dissertation study of cooperative online game playing by adults in which they report no significant long-term effects of playing a violent game on the adult’s behavior. However, the low statistical power of the study, the numerous methodological flaws of the experiment such as self-selection of a biased sample, lack of an adequate control group, the lack of adequate behavioral measures make the validity of the study highly questionable. Furthermore, the participants were adults for whom there would be little reason to expect long-term effects.
As we conclude the effects of violence on the masses, we now come to the possible solution to this grave issue. Violence has always been a part of the media from its advent and as the media becomes even more perfect with the introduction of three virtual reality and an increased interactivity, the presentation of violence integrates increasingly with reality. Censorship alone is not the answer but instead, codes of conduct and self control must be developed among media professionals. Debate must be encouraged between politicians, producers and teachers to find a common ground and most importantly, media education must be boosted to create competent media users.