Everything has reasons. Violence was an integral part of everyday living at the dawn of the human era. The necessity in food, protection from predators, and competitors for food required from the first people to be violent. Therefore, their children perceived such behavior as normal and absorbed it as the model for the further development. Evolutionary changes in human behavior, further sophistication of social relationships, and development of the brain led to the eventual unaccepting of violence in a society as the mechanism of solving problems. Then why is violence still the issue in our world?
It is possible that the problem is deeper than some people think. Despite the fact that people have laws and mechanisms to resolve any argues between two abstract individuals not using violence, people still hurt each other intentionally or not. The problem could be hidden in us, our past and next generations. Violence in the past was a common thing for the people of that time. They saw it everywhere. Those who were not influenced by the scenes of violence because of various reasons had the chance not to follow the same example. Therefore, one can conclude that not seeing violence is good for the young minds and it could protect a child from possible disastrous consequences. Thus, it can be the reason of extensive bullying in schools.
Psychological violence is one of the forms of oppression. One of the earliest stages when the danger of such oppression is rather high is school. Bullying is the process of making fun of people around in a twisted, often very cruel form when the fittest try to humiliate the weak around. Such offensive behavior allows “bullies” to self-assert while weaker children become even quieter, shy, and introverted. This introversion can lead to serious consequences in further development of personality and even to the tragedies.
According to Merriam-Webster (2011), introversion is defined as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life.” The issues of introversion had been explored for many decades already (Extroversion and introversion, 2011).
Carl Jung described introverts as people who prefer their internal world of thoughts, fantasies, feelings, dreams, etc. instead of the outside analogs. He addressed this issue to the direction of the psychic energy flow (inwards) theory, adherent of which Jung was (Boeree, 1997). Jung’s theory presupposes that both introversion and extraversion are present in every human being as the essential features of a personality, according to Dolliver (1994). Jung identified two different types of human mentality, where an introvert finds the determining agency pre-eminently in the subject, while the other (extravert) finds it in the object (Dolliver, 1994). Carl Jung also argued that introverts tend to be shy and lonely due to their nature (Boeree, 1997).
There were other researchers, exploring this issue. Eysenck’s theory, for example, discusses the issues of extroversion-introversion as the degree of interaction of a person with the outside world (Matthews & Gilliand, 1999). The core of his theory originally was the suggestion that extraversion is a combination of impulsiveness and sociability and that introversion prevails when these tendencies are not developed well in a person. In addition, he compared introversion to four temperaments of ancient medicine stated that melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments equating to introversion (Matthews & Gilliand, 1999). Among other researches, one can outline the works of Adler, who developed introvert theory of personality. He addressed introversion to the capability of mind to secure the individual’s power in the face of the hostile environment influences. Jung classified Adler’s theory as “tender-minded” (in opposite to Freud’s “tough-minded” extraversion) (Dolliver, 1994).
Violence and children are the topic that is discussed in all societies on different levels for a long time now. People with power look for methods and instruments in order to guard younger generations from the influence of violence. However, modern means of communication, mass media, the Internet have seriously complicated this task. What is the connection between violence and media and how could it affect children? The study conducted by the group of researches under Dr. Joe Groebel of Utrecht University showed that media have direct impact on children in terms of violence and related areas (Groebel).
The research lasted from 1996 to 1997 and involved more than five thousands of 12-year-old students from 23 countries. These children answered a standardized 60-item questionnaire in order to find out how much time modern children spend in front of TV sets or monitors and how this influences their behavior. Very different regions were involved into the study, from rather unstable Angola and Brazil to rather peaceful environments, like Canada or Spain in order to see how the environment influenced children.
The results of the study showed different perception of violence from the screen of TV. Children from unstable regions were more affected by the environment and thus, responded more actively to the content with heroic characters that punished evil. Therefore, they wanted to be like these heroes (about 50% of the respondents from unstable regions). Kids from peaceful regions were less aggressive and wanted to be like action heroes only in 37% of answers.
Here is another interesting fact. Groebel states the following: “93% of the students who attend school and live in electrified urban or rural areas have regular access to television and watch it for an average of three hours a day. This represents at least 50% more than the time spent on any other out of school activity, including homework, being with friends, or reading. The result justifies the assumption that television is the most powerful source of information and entertainment besides face-to-face interaction.”
What does it say to us? Does this mean that media sources promote violence and therefore attract attention of the most vulnerable category of humankind? What is good and wrong in this situation? Is it possible to make negative influence less destructive or eliminate it at all? The answers to these questions could provide readers with clearer picture regarding media-and-violence issue.
With the advent of the Internet and further development of television as common source of entertainment, people received an opportunity to fulfill their subconscious desires and wishes, based on primitive instincts. These instincts were implemented into our existence by thousands of years of hunting and wars. People cannot resist their desire to kill. It does not matter how cruel it could sound but the fact is – people need to kill to please their primitive instincts. Reproduction and survival are among them.
What does it have to do with media, violence, and children? The thing is that every fairy tale, or story, or movie, of computer game is based on the fight of good versus evil. Therefore, this fight is presented in different forms and shapes but the main idea is the same. Good (almost every time) defeats evil with different methods. The background for most of them is violence. Every hero or positive character has the right to shoot the bad people (creatures). Is it good or bad? On the one hand, good fights with evil. On the other, what is the difference then for children? It is violence that way or another.
Media provides children with access to the content of such kind. There are regulative organs that control the situation and try to protect children from extra violence on the screen of a computer or a TV by implementing different ratings (PG, R, etc.). However, it does not change the fact that our society still produces violence on screen and lives using violence as the resolution of most of its problems. Each war conflict on the planet then comes straight to the news and children are able to see it without any restrictions.
After the careful evaluation of the researches’ results in the American Psychological Association article, it can be concluded that the effects of video games are rather predictable and clearly understandable. Billions of young people play video games every day and most games (as well as movies and some TV shows, news, etc.) contain violence in different forms. However, these children do not become violent or change their behavior at once. There are some cases registered in the entire world that youngsters were violent or acted similarly and pointed out they played video games of violent nature so it caused this issue. Video games are like peanut butter – most people do not have “allergy” and act normally, while some minority can be either happy or become killers.
Thus, it would not be right to make any video game responsible for actions of those who played these games. “Doom”, for example, is a fictitious story about the monsters in space who came for another dimension – only a mentally “disoriented” child can take the events in the game too close and start shooting people in a school. The same can happen because of the television and violence in movies. It is more likely that initial mental state of an individual plays far more important role in this case.
In my environment, there are no people who could be either positively or negatively impacted by the playing of violent video games. Therefore, it can be concluded that all people are mentally normal and have stable psychological state. Video games are just for fun but it is unlikely that blood on screen, disconnected limbs, etc. can invoke the feeling of happiness or deep sorrow – it is just a game and nothing else. It means that video games could be dangerous for a small group of young people with unstable mental state who might perceive video games differently.
Violence is bad. Communication and issues’ resolution without applying force is good. Our children hear from the beginning of their life this imperative. However, it has not changed the situation substantially for the last two centuries. People are still shooting and hurting each other all over the world. Is it media’s fault? None of parents wants their children to be violent and cruel. Then why do the adults act the above-described way? It is hard to admit but violence is in human nature and people cannot deal with it. Any attempt to eliminate it is doomed. The history of conflicts can prove it rather easily.
The only possible way, in my opinion, is to explain the nature of violence to a child and try to make this little person understand what it is and why people use violence in their life. Thus, the media will not have such an effect on the young and the problem will not be that substantial. Such approach requires a lot of work however, but it is worth it.
It is important to understand that media are only the reflection of the desires in any society. Without interest to a program on TV or website on the Internet, the ratings or hits on these pages will decrease and it could be shut down. Media only respond to our interest to the violence. People live in the civilized society where violence is not appropriate but still has instincts that invoke human interest to it. This is the issue to deal with and not media.
Of course, media have influence on the children and excessive violence from different sources could psychologically harm a young developing personality. However, there are no methods that could eliminate their interest to violence. It means that people have to find some other ways in order to change their nature.