Nowadays, researchers are inclined to discuss media violence as one of the main causes of young people’s aggressive behavior observed in modern society. Thus, the violent media content related to social media, television, movies, online videos, and games is viewed as the cause of the increased aggression in young people that can be represented in various forms, including bullying, abuse, and even mass shooting (Elson & Ferguson, 2013). However, researchers cannot agree on any single idea regarding the actual role of media violence in influencing people’s aggressive behaviors (Bushman & Anderson, 2015; Kaplan, 2012; Swing & Anderson, 2014). In this context, there are two main viewpoints regarding the problem that needs to be reviewed; the first one is that media violence directly affects aggression in young people, and the second one is that media violence is only one of multiple factors that can cause the aggressive reactions in people.
Media Violence and Negative Impacts on People’s Behaviors
The majority of the reviewed literature argues that there is a direct positive relationship between the violence in media and further aggression observed in young people or adolescents. According to Fikkers, Piotrowski, Weeda, Vossen, and Valkenburg (2013), media violence should be viewed as a significant factor that can increase the risk of the development of conflicts among people. The researchers focused on conflicts in families, and they found that media violence usually leads to adolescents’ aggression, and it also provokes conflicts with relatives (Fikkers et al., 2013). Ioan, Iov, Dumbrava, Ionescu, and Damian (2013) also agree that the mass media are an influential factor to provoke certain behaviors in children and adolescents, and they state that any violence expressed online, in the press, or as TV programs can contribute to developing the children’s aggressiveness. While focusing on examining the role of violent media as one of the factors to cause aggression in society, Elson and Ferguson (2013) conclude that it is important to develop and implement more social policies that are aimed at preventing the spread of media violence because it is rather difficult to predict the effects of violent content on the young people’s mood and behaviors.
In addition to explaining the problem of media violence from the social perspective, researchers are also inclined to study the physiological and psychological processes associated with exposure to violent media and its further effects on people’s reactions and behaviors. Swing and Anderson (2014) found that aggression as a result of watching violent videos or playing violent games is usually observed in those persons, who have attention problems or can be described as highly impulsive. Being exposed to such stimulus as the demonstration of violence, they react to it more actively in comparison to the other people whose attention and impulsiveness are within norms (Swing & Anderson, 2014).
Alia-Klein et al. (2014) contributed to this discussion while finding out that those people, who watch violent videos and then demonstrate aggression, have low levels of the glucose metabolism in the brain zone that is responsible for the person’s self-control. Thus, the brain of some people can react to stimuli differently than the brain of other people, and violent media can cause an increase in blood pressure, and further high levels of aggression can be expected (Alia-Klein et al., 2014). The results of the study conducted by Madan, Mrug, and Wright (2014) indicate that similar reactions are observed in terms of persons’ feelings of anxiety. When people watch violent videos or other content for a long period of time their levels of anxiety increase, and their psychological state becomes unstable (Madan et al., 2014). The analysis of the particular viewpoint that violent media cause aggression demonstrates that many researchers share this idea while supporting it with the help of results of qualitative and quantitative studies, as well as experiments in the fields of sociology, psychology, and psychiatry.
Media Violence as One of Factors Influencing Young People’s Behaviors
The reason to state that there is no clear evidence to support the idea that media violence causes aggression in people is that researchers also provide credible study results to support the viewpoint that the direct relationship between the exposure to the violent content and further aggressive behaviors is absent. In their research, Mitrofan, Paul, Weich, and Spencer (2014) state that if children are often aggressive, their aggression can be of different origins, and the combination of factors should be taken into account in this case. The aggression of children is usually caused by aggressive and violent environments, negative relations with relatives and peers, and, only then, by media violence and aggression in online settings (Mitrofan et al., 2014). In comparison to Mitrofan et al. (2014), Ramos, Ferguson, and Frailing (2014) chose to study how violent media can influence the cooperative behavior of young people. The researchers found that violent videos, TV programs, or games cannot directly influence people’s positive or negative behaviors. As a result of the study, no relationship associated with increased aggressive behavior or decreased cooperative behavior was observed (Ramos et al., 2014). These results allow assuming that many other factors can cause people’s aggression toward others.
The problem of impossibility to discuss the violent media as the only or primary factor to influence the increase of aggression in modern society is researched in studies by Kaplan (2012) and Bushman and Anderson (2015). According to Kaplan (2012), all discussions related to naming the violence in media as the main factor to cause aggression among adolescents are a kind of mass media speculations, and it is important to study and analyze the problem of provoked aggression in detail. Kaplan (2012) states that aggression and violence are complex reactions that are usually caused by a range of factors or a combination of stimuli that makes people act aggressively. From this point, it is almost impossible to speak about violent media as a single factor. This idea is also developed by Bushman and Anderson (2015), who state that existing studies and experiments do not indicate the presence of a direct or high relationship between violent media and aggressive behaviors. However, the researchers note that the violent content of the media should be regarded as one of the risk factors that can develop in people the perception of violence as a normal form of behavior. The researches discussed in this section demonstrate the necessity of further studies in the field to state clearly whether violent media is a significant risk factor to cause aggressive behavior that needs to be controlled or regulated with the help of social policies.
The Current Status of the Problem Discussion
In spite of the fact that a lot of research is present in the field of debates on the role of violent media in provoking aggressive behaviors, researchers and practitioners cannot formulate a single vision regarding the problem. Researchers conducted many studies in the area to find the answers to the questions, but the results of studies are rather different. On the one hand, in the majority of studies, researchers conclude that violence in the media plays a key role in stimulating children and adolescents’ aggressive behaviors (Fikkers et al., 2013; Ioan et al., 2013; Madan et al., 2014). On the other hand, some studies do not support the presence of the direct relationship, and in this case, researchers are inclined to discuss the violence in virtual settings, games, social networks, television, and the press as only one of multiple factors that can cause changes in the young people’s behaviors while making them more vulnerable and aggressive (Bushman & Anderson, 2015; Kaplan, 2012; Mitrofan et al., 2014; Ramos et al., 2014). From this point, it is possible to state that the origin of aggression and violence in society is a complex problem that needs to be discussed and studied in further investigation in detail. Currently, it is possible to assume that violent media can be discussed as an important causal factor in relation to the violence and aggression observed in people’s relations and even in the streets.
Nevertheless, it is significant to admit the presence of several factors that can cause violence in behaviors. Moreover, it is also important to pay attention to studies that determine the relationship between brain and psychological processes and the expressed aggression as different people can react to the violent media differently, and it is rather difficult to state what factors cause their behaviors and reactions. The impact of such extraneous variables as the temperament, relations in the family, relations with peers, the inner negative feelings caused by other factors, and education should be taken into account while conducting studies aimed to examine the relationship between the violent media and aggression demonstrated by young people in the society.
The level of violence and aggression increases in society continuously, and researchers try to find out the explanation of this tendency while examining possible factors that can cause expressing aggression among young people. The other tendency that is observed is the spread of media violence that is related to violent videos, television shows, games, and online communication. As a result, the researchers have focused on examining the possible relationship between media violence and the high levels of aggression in society. The literature review demonstrates that there is no clear answer to the question of whether the violent content spread with the help of mass media or social media can be a real cause of the violence in children and adolescents’ relations. From this perspective, the literature review indicates the necessity of further research in the field to find out sound evidence to support this or that point of view.
Alia-Klein, N., Goldstein, R., Fowler, J., Volkow, N., Wang, G., Preston-Campbell, R., … Tomasi, D. (2014). Reactions to media violence: It’s in the brain of the beholder. PLoS One, 9(9), 1-11.
Bushman, B., & Anderson, C. (2015). Understanding causality in the effects of media violence. The American Behavioral Scientist, 59(14), 1807-1820.
Elson, M., & Ferguson, C. J. (2013). Gun violence and media effects: Challenges for science and public policy. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 203(5), 322-324.
Fikkers, K., Piotrowski, J., Weeda, W. D., Vossen, H. G., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2013). Double dose: High family conflict enhances the effect of media violence exposure on adolescents’ aggression. Societies, 3(3), 280-292.
Ioan, B., Iov, T., Dumbrava, A., Ionescu, S., & Damian, S. (2013). Implications of media violence on the aggression in children and adolescents. Revista De Cercetare Si Interventie Sociala, 40(1), 48-60.
Kaplan, A. (2012). Violence in the media: What effects on behavior? Psychiatric Times, 29(10), 1-11.
Madan, A., Mrug, S., & Wright, R. A. (2014). The effects of media violence on anxiety in late adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(1), 116-126.
Mitrofan, O., Paul, M., Weich, S., & Spencer, N. (2014). Aggression in children with behavioural/emotional difficulties: Seeing aggression on television and video games. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 287-287.
Ramos, R. A., Ferguson, C. J., & Frailing, K. (2014). Violent entertainment and cooperative behavior: Examining media violence effects on cooperation in a primarily hispanic sample. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6(16), 1-15.
Swing, E. L., & Anderson, C. A. (2014). The role of attention problems and impulsiveness in media violence effects on aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 40(3), 197-203.