I agree that excessive violence in the media desensitizes people because the amount of violence presented in media in today’s day and age is inevitable as everything online circulates as quick as lightning.
In early 2018, a experimentation from Ohio State University, pairs of children aged between 8 to 12-year-old were brought into a lab and shown 20-minute clips from popular PG-rated movies. In each pair, one would watch the original movie footage and the other would watch the footage where guns were edited out. After watching the clips, they were brought to a large room with toys including Nerf guns. Expectedly, children who watched the footage with guns played more violently, contrasted to children who watched the footage with no guns involved. However, the study had a little twist. The room had a closed cabinet, where in one of the drawers was a real, unloaded 0.38-caliber handgun. The gun was altered so that it couldn’t fire bullets and tracked the number of times the trigger was pulled. Researchers were curious whether the children would be able to locate the gun, thus were not told that there was a gun in the room. What’s critical is that almost none of the kids who watched the movie clip without guns ever pulled the trigger and what’s scarier is that some kids who watched the actual footage pulled the trigger over 20 times. One child even pointed the gun out the window at people walking down the street and another pressed the gun to another child’s temple and pulled the trigger. This research shows that violent media has possibilities of causing aggressiveness in children, and that this behaviour can be tricky if the violent media incorporates guns.
Over the years, it has become a norm for violence to be presented. Publishing and reporting graphic images or videos of gory and horrifying incidents happening in the world will desensitise people because of repeated exposure that results in diminished emotional responsiveness. For example, in the recent years with the terrorist group, ISIS being on the go, videos of the terrorists beheading victims were all over social media. Just a simple search, “ISIS attacks” on Google would instantly show extremely sensitive videos or images.
The media has deliberately sensationalized brutal violence just to get individuals to purchase their print media or visit their social media platform. Violence although not being encouraged, has been misused as a topic to garner views. This can be proven with how people easily use clickbait to gain views or popularity. It has sadly boiled down to the fact that media companies are just trying to generate more revenue by having more visits on their sites or views on their videos. With the media demonstrating violence, the impact it could have on people would possibly influence their behaviours. Violence in media increases the aggression in people thus leading them to do things based on what they see or mimic the acts witnessed.
Games in the entertainment media these days are also full of violence, inclusive of shooting, killing, brutality and ruthlessness. Back in 2013, at the age of 15, Nehemiah Griego killed his parents and three siblings at their home in South Valley, New Mexico. Griego loved playing violent video games and even enjoyed talking about them to crime investigators, which goes to show that the impact that violent video games had on Griego has influenced his behaviour and actions.
On the other hand, personal and individual’s threshold to violence should be taken into consideration as well. The background, personality and whether one is easily influenced should be taken into account when considering whether excessive violence leads to desensitisation. For example, the Columbine massacre in 1999 and Munich, Germany shooting in 2016, in both cases, the gunmen were influenced and desensitised by the shooting video games they played such as Blackshot and Counter-Strike as recorded, which caused them to go on shooting sprees. However, their mental health and background should be thought about because the video games were not the main and only factor contributing to their morbid actions. Based on studies and research, the Columbine High School boys were bullied and harassed by their peers and did not have many friends which goes to show that they were also affected mentally.
Also, with constant exposure to media, the content could be desensitising as there are a handful of people who can’t stand the sight of blood or gore or are sensitive to violence. Knowing that media affects people, censorship exists, which explains the Parental Guidance ratings in films or shows. Films are also rated Mature 18 when there is strong realistic violence such as killings and maiming which means there would be caution taken and audience could abstain from watching if easily desensitized. The ratings provide people with prior information on films which allows them to make judgments and have a choice when it comes to movies they want or don’t want to see.
To conclude, violence in media does desensitize people because it has become increasingly normal to have violence in all different kinds of media as people who are desensitized don’t feel as shocked or sensitive towards violence and find violence acceptable to be viewed or imitated.