Violence on Television

Violence on Television may have behavioural effects, emotional effects or ideological effects. " (Buckingham in Barker and Petley(eds) 1997:39). Comment critically on the notion of television's effects under these three headings and demonstrate how the available evidence remains contradictory. Concern about violence within popular media has a long history. Plato proposed to ban poets from his ideal republic, because he feared that their stories about immoral behaviour would corrupt young minds.

In modern times, moral pressure groups have tried to 'protect' people, especially children from television, the cinema, and 'video nasties'. It's important to see the issue of television violence and it's link with behaviour in a social, cultural and historical context, and to also know that the media is often used as a scapegoat. For example, tremendous violence is almost always seen in classic Shakespearean theatre and yet it is considered necessary and educational in today's society.

Blaming the media helps to divert attention from other causes of change, and so claims about the 'effects of television' can be massively exaggerated. The extremely broad and often ambiguous nature of violence seen on television can and has resulted in many disagreements concerning the degree of effects this can have on an audience. There has been much research into this concept, some partially successful in concluding an answer, some not and often proving highly contradictory.

However there has yet to be a study that fully proves that violence seen in the media is directly linked to human behavioural, emotional or ideological effects. There has been a considerable amount of research into the relationships between the viewing of violent films, videos and TV programmes and aggressive behaviour by the viewers of that material, in particular the behaviour of children. Many theorists in the past, such as the Frankfurt School (1922), have simply viewed the audience as a passive mass, absorbing the information given to them without reaction or hesitation.

Due to this concept being commonly used and respected it was therefore inevitable that behaviour would be directly linked to any information gathered by that individual from television, as it was not generally considered that a person could resist or filter the footage they had seen. Behavioural effects Many people believe that behavioural patterns can be traced and linked directly to violence seen on television.

In many of the early studies concerning this theorists simply did not address other factors that may be relevant when conducting such studies including gender, temperament and existing behavioural problems. However, some theories do prove that children can directly imitate actions they have observed previously regardless of these factors, such as the Bobo Doll Study. This shows that behaviour can be linked to a visual means and that children can re-inact scenes they observe, even when they may understand the moral reasons why they should not.