Some Assumptions often Underlying the Media Argument Assumption #1: As Media Culture Has Expanded, Children Have Become More Violent Research does not back this up Crime rates have been declining
Assumption #2: Children Are Prone to Imitate Media Violence with Deadly Results Bandura and colleagues studied ninety-six children approximately three to six years old (details about community or economic backgrounds not mentioned). The children were divided into groups and watched various acts of "aggression" against a five-foot inflated "Bobo" doll. Surprise: when they had their chance, the kids who watched adults hit the doll pummeled it too, especially those who watched the cartoon version of the doll-beating. Although taken as proof that children will imitate aggressive models from film and television, this study is riddled with leaps in logic. Albert Bandura's classic 1963 "Bobo doll" experiment initiated the belief that children will copy what they see in media.
Assumption #3: Real Violence and Media Violence Have the Same Meaning Consider these three scenarios. Do they all have the same meaning? Wile E. Coyote drops an anvil on Road Runner's head, who keeps on running; A body is found on Law and Order (or your favorite police show); A shooting at a party leaves one person dead and another near death after waiting thirty minutes for an ambulance.
Assumption #4: Research Conclusively Demonstrates the Link Between Media and Violent Behavior Consider these real headlines: "Survey Connects Graphic TV Fare, Child Behavior" (Boston Globe) "Cutting Back on Kids' TV Use May Reduce Aggressive Acts" (Denver Post) "Doctors Link Kids' Violence to Media" (Arizona Republic) "Study Ties Aggression to Violence in Games" (USA Today)
It’s Not the Media A look beyond the attention-grabbing headlines and political stumping reveals that fearing media feels right because media represents what we fear. And changes in media culture are easier to see than the complex economic, social, and political changes we have experienced over the past few decades. As a society, we don’t think sociologically.
Fear of social change ‘This generation…’ What does it mean to be a kid in a today's media-saturated climate?
Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime As many of best-selling games contain hyper-realistic violence, many researchers and policymakers have concluded that violent games cause violent behaviors. Evidence on a causal effect of violent games on violence is usually based on laboratory experiments finding violent games increase aggression. Before drawing policy conclusions about the effect of violent games on actual behavior, these experimental studies should be subjected to tests of external validity. 10
Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime One study uses a quasi-experimental methodology to identify the short and medium run effects of violent game sales on violent crime using time variation in retail unit sales data of the top 50 selling video games and violent criminal offenses from the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for each week of 2005 to 2008. The authors instrument for game sales with game characteristics, game quality and time on the market, and estimate that, while a one percent increase in violent games is associated with up to a 0.03% decrease in violent crime, non-violent games appear to have no effect on crime rates. 11
Rampage Shooting Facts School shootings have risen (peaking in the late nineties), though statistically schools are still the safest place for a child to be. Since 1980, 297 People Have Been Killed in School Shootings* Using your sociological imagination, how would you explain this fact?
Rampage School Shootings involve: Take place on a school-related public stage before an audience, Involve multiple victims, some of whom are shot simply for their symbolic significance or at random and; Involve one or more shooters who are students or former students of the school.
What Aren’t Causes School Shootings? “he just snapped…” “violent media consumption made him do it” “he was crazy/mentally ill”
What Actually Causes these Shootings? No one thing causes school shootings The explanations aren’t simple and solutions to them aren’t simple Like all social problems, their origins are multifaceted and the solutions must be as well (and require a critical look inward at or society). At least five necessary but not sufficient conditions for rampage school shootings:
Shooter’s Perception 1) The shooter’s perception of himself as extremely marginal in the social worlds that matter to him. Hierarchical arrangement of popularity and masculinity Perception doesn’t always mean reality
Psychological Problems 2) School shooters must suffer from psychosocial problems that magnify the impact of their marginality. Not the same thing as ‘crazy’
Cultural Scripts 3)”Cultural Scripts” – prescriptions for behavior– must be available to lead the way toward an armed attack. Provide models for problem solving; means to an end Media can play a role here Masculinity Blueprints for a masculine self may help explain why rampage school shooters direct their anger and hopelessness outward, rather than inward.
Failure of Surveillance Systems 4) Failure of surveillance systems that are intended to identify troubled teens before their problems become extreme. Shooters are often under the radar because they don’t tend to exhibit the types of behavioral problems schools associate with violent or troubled kids Peers fail to report threats (most shooters do issue threats or tell some one).
Guns 5) Gun availability; particularly the ease of which potential shooters can get their hands on guns. This alone, like all the other is not enough. It is when the unfortunate circumstances come together that the likelihood increases.