Violent media are graphic and audiovisual materials that portray acts and scenes of physical harm to another person or character. It is accompanied by hostility, anger, physical and verbal assault that targets an innocent person. Aggressive people tend to use this trait in their attempt to find solutions the real life problems. The link between violent media and aggressive behavior is not clear because researchers have been giving conflicting reports on it. (Bettencourt and Benjamin, 2006)
For instance, Ferguson, Nicholas, Anderson and Bushman join this debate by examining the effects of exposure to violent video games on aggressive behavior of their players. They address this problem from two different platforms. Ferguson does not link aggressive behavior with violent video games. On the other hand, Nicholas Anderson and Bushman have a strong feeling that there is a close relationship between the two variants. Generally, majority of researchers believe that aggressive behavior is an effect of violent media. However, a few like Ferguson consider it as a way of improving the visual and spatial intelligence of their participants
According to Ferguson, exposure to violent video games increases visuo-spatial cognition of the player. This implies that the player can improve his or her ability to generate, retain, retrieve and transform very wells-structured images. He refutes the fact that violent video games trigger aggressive behavior. He writes that, violent video games have some positive effects to their players and do not associate with any negative effects. His research emphasizes the positive effects of violent video games on the aggressive behavior. He asserts that this has been ignored by many researchers as they tend to concentrate mainly on the negative effects. Furthermore, he states that meta-analysis of violent video games and aggression produced mixed reactions. This analysis showed some small relationship between violent video games and aggression while others do not support. He further argues that most publications on this topic are bias in assessing the aggressive effects of the violent media games. (Ferguson, 2007)
On the other hand, Nicholas, Anderson and Bushman oppose Ferguson’s argument on this matter. They strongly believe that violent video games have aggressive effect on their players. They argue that violent video games cause a desensitization effect to an individual. This effect makes them insensitive to the plights of violence victims by reducing their emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence. In their research, they used a General Aggression Model that monitors Heart Rate (HR) and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) a participants. They found out that participants who had played violent video games registered a lower Heart Rate and Galvanic Skin Response while watching a real-life violent video. This implies that the violent video game they played before, desensitized them against violence. However, participants who had never played such video games were seriously affected by the portrayals in a real-life video film. (Bettencourt and Benjamin, 2006)
Nicholas, Anderson and Bushman’s research gives a strong link between desensitization and violent media. For instance, individuals who have undergone desensitization fail to attend to violence victims. This is because desensitization has reduced their perception of an emergency. They do not look at violence as an emergency that requires their immediate attention and help. Desensitization also reduces their sympathy for the violence victims and they treat violence as a normal situation that does not require faster intervention. They conclude that not only video games have a desensitization effect but also other forms of media violence such as TV programs, films and video music. ( Bushman & Cantor, 2003)
In conclusion, many researcher have done much to prove that violent media is dangerous to their consumers. These materials cause adverse psychological problems such as making them insensitive to real-life situations. They end up perceiving violence as a normal situation the society should not regard as an emergency. Nevertheless, this topic requires non-bias research that explores both negative and positive effects of violent media.
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