I chose to read the article by Brad J. Bushman entitled, “It’s ‘Only’ Violence.” This was published in the Ensign in June of 2003. This article discussed the media’s effects on aggression. Not long ago, Bushman, a psychology professor at Iowa State University, carried out an informal survey, which sought to find out Church members’ views on television and movies. When he asked the members about what made a movie offensive, the common answers to this question were sexually explicit scenes or profanity- the members in his studies did not mention violence as being something objectionable.
In his article, Bushman first discusses the spiritual consequences of being exposed to media violence. He states that “the Spirit is offended” when we watch violence in the media- regardless of if it “causes us to commit violent acts.” Bushman next talks about how much violence children are exposed to in their daily lives. He cites a U.S. study, which reveals that the average American child “spends about 40 hours per week watching TV and videos, playing computer games, and so on.” What was even more disturbing for me to learn from this article is how much violence a child will have been exposed to upon leaving elementary school. “By the time the average American child graduates from elementary school, he or she will have seen more than 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 other assorted acts of violence, such as assaults, on network television. The numbers are even higher if the child has access to cable television or a videocassette or DVD player, as most do.” It is astonishing to me that a young child could be exposed to such a high amount of violence in the media. Surely, this amount must make them become desensitized. Bushman also discusses the detrimental effects of playing violent video games by stating that they cause a child to take on the role of a violent person and often times, reward the child for exhibiting violent behaviors in the game.
In the bulk of his article, Bushman discusses myths associated with media. Myth #1 states that “the mass media simply mirror[s] the level of violence in the real world.” This is false. Bushman cites research to back up this point which states, “The largest discrepancy between the real world and the world depicted on television was for murder—the most violent crime of all. Only 0.2 percent of the crimes reported by the FBI are murders, whereas about 50 percent of the crimes shown in reality-based TV programs are murders.” It is so unfortunate that children and adults alike are being subjected to violent material in the media. From the quote above, it can be determined that the media does not mirror reality- murders do not take place near as often as they are shown in the media.
A second myth, mentioned by Bushman, which I liked, asserts, “Viewing violence has a trivial effect on aggression.” Many people believe that society is not affected by the violence children and adults alike are exposed to in the media- that somehow, it is not at risk when people view violent material. This is false. I love a quote that Bushman cites which states, “…the research evidence indicates that the effect of violent media on aggression is stronger than the effect of calcium intake on bone mass, the effect of asbestos on cancer, the effect of lead exposure on mental functioning, and the effect of secondhand smoke on lung cancer.” I thought this quote was very powerful! Indeed, being exposed to violence in the media is far more powerful than one would believe. This brings me to the final myth, which I found to be very interesting in Bushman’s article. It declares, “’Media violence doesn’t affect me!’” Bushman makes the point that even if a small percentage of people started to become violent upon seeing violent material in the media, it would greatly affect society. He says, “Suppose 20 million people watch the program. If the program increases aggression in just 1 percent of viewers, then 200,000 people will behave more aggressively after watching the program.” This thought really opened my eyes to the great effects violence can have on people. Even if I, myself, am not watching violent things in the media, I am still affected by the people who do. Bushman concludes his explanation of this myth by stating that scientific studies have proved what general authorities have been saying for years- violence in the media causes people to become desensitized.
This article will influence me as a future parent and teacher in guiding me to know what sorts of guidelines to set for my children and my students. Bushman states that “children are the most vulnerable” to be affected by violence because of their inability to tell the difference between fantasy reality. Bushman suggests that parents have a set of DVDs and computer games on hand so that if their children want to play or watch something, the parent will know that it is appropriate. He also suggests that parents monitor the amount of time children watch television or play video games. A final suggestion that he gives, which I feel is especially insightful is that parents and older siblings should avoid violent material themselves, as their viewing of it often exposes the young children to it at the same time.
I can use what I read in this article to be mindful of the violence my future children and students view. I will do my absolute best to set a good example for them by avoiding violent material in my own life and ensuring that they have appropriate media to watch or play with. I can also help my friends and family to promote a positive outcome in their children’s lives by giving them the advice I read about in this article. I think that my friends would be very impressed by the material that Bushman included in it and the beneficial suggestions he gives for us to follow. In essence, I think that I will be able to impact children’s lives for good as a result of reading this article. It was very useful to me.
I watched two of the Netsmartz videos, all of the Frontline PBS Documentary, and the BYU iKeepSafe Faux Paws clip. When I watched these videos about internet safety and the dangers that lurk on the internet, I was astonished at what I watched! I have a facebook and am decently knowledgeable at working with technology, but I was amazed at how many young people get onto the internet too! One of the clips I watched showed a 13-year-old boy who was on myspace- frequently checking his friend requests and other material on the site. Another showed a Goth girl, who posted half-naked pictures of herself as a way to feel good and appreciated by others (since they wrote compliments on each of her pictures).
After watching the videos, I want to stay away from technology for a while. I do not want it to consume and control my life in the way that I saw it consume so many of the students’ lives on the videos. These students rely on the internet as a means of escape- as a sort of escape from reality. It depresses me that the internet has caused so many children and teenagers to stay inside on the computer for hours instead of going out with friends and being active. These people see the internet as a place to be themselves; a place to complain (on video blogs); a place to connect with others; a place to bully or “talk trash” about other people; a place to find forums for one’s problems (i.e. eating disorder forum); a place to post risqué photos- the list is endless. I know that the internet is a good thing and can serve a great purpose, yet I fear what sort of future the young people of today are facing with regards to it. These young people are letting it take over their lives- it is infiltrating into their homes. I fear what sorts of predators are lurking on it- just waiting for someone to accept a chat invitation and find solace in what they think to be a “friend.” Though the videos said that many of the young people today know to stay away from predators, I know that there are young people who are not strong enough to resist such invitations. There are young people who use the internet as a means to find friends and support and it disgusts me that there are stalkers and predators on the internet who disguise themselves as someone else with the hopes of attracting these very people. Perhaps the most stirring, emotionally-moving video I watched was one that discussed the effects of internet bullying firsthand in the home of a family whose son committed suicide as a result of it. I held back tears as I watched the 7th grade boy’s father grow emotional as he relayed such a tragic story about his son taking his life because of the terrible things that people were writing about him on the internet. It was so hard on the father because he had no knowledge that this internet bullying was happening to his son. The boy’s mother made a very good point when she said that people usually think of problems people face at school as being at school only- when the school day ends the problems are left at school. Yet, her son’s problems waited for him on a computer screen in his home- he had no escape; no sanctuary. I feel like the videos I watched were a great “eye-opener” to me. They taught me how much I want to make a difference. There are many sites that one can go to in order to help to promote internet safety. I feel like some of the articles that I read today were especially insightful about how parents and teachers alike can help children (i.e. Charles Graham’s article was wonderful). Netsmartz.org is a wonderful site, which I feel could be especially beneficial to anyone who is seeking to promote internet safety. It is my plan to teach children about internet safety as often as I can because I know that doing so will make their lives and the lives of their parents and teachers all the better.I talked to my Mom about internet safety and I feel that the conversation went very well. My Mom is not the most tech-savvy woman and she does not really know how to use a computer so a lot of the things that I told her about were simple enough for her to learn and understand- regardless of her computer skills. I shared with her the many sites I watched videos on and the information they revealed about how the internet consumes peoples’ lives- young people in particular. I told her about the kinds of things people post on the sites and how it is imperative that she monitor my little brother and sister, who are still living at home. I advised her to closely monitor the amount of time that they spend on the computer and to ensure that the computer be located in a place that can be seen by all. I think what most impacted my Mom was the same thing that impacted me when I watched the videos- how scary and real internet bullying is. When I told her the story about the young boy who killed himself because of internet bullying; the boy who had parents that loved him and had absolutely no idea that this was going on- it broke my Mom’s heart. She said that she had never considered or heard much about internet bullying before, and thus, was so grateful to me for sharing that information with her. As a result of the many things that we discussed, my Mom has resolved to learn how to use the computer better and in a way that will help her to monitor my siblings. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to share with her things that I now feel strongly to be extremely important and pertinent to our everyday life. The internet will not go away or disappear- such a thought is obvious. This notion gives me all the more resolve to want to help children to understand the appropriate, safe, and healthy use of this technology.