The Dead Media Effects Model

How many times have you been told that violent games, movies, tv and stories will make you violent?

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘studies show’?

Have you ever questioned this?

Maybe you should…

Ever since the 19th century, with the spread of literacy and hence, thrilling stories, people have feared the effect media has on the general populace. Why is this? The issue lies in the media effects model.

(What we fear)

What is the media effects model?

The media effects model is the understanding of how media (such as popular literature, comics, television, film and digital media) effects the behavior of it’s audience. Media is often perceived as a ‘sender’ encoding a message, sending it through a medium for a receiver to ‘decode’. This perception and the assumption that children need to be ‘molded’ from birth can give rise to serious concerns from the public and fear of the unknown which anyone can manipulate for their own benefits. One will often hear about how violent media make kids violent and that it desensitizes them.

Desensitized: Media violence and children  (Click here to watch in Youtube)

Should we accept what we are told and shy away from all forms of media that display any forms of violence? No!
Because the current media affects model is wrong.

So, What’s Wrong?

The people that claim violent media makes children violent see media as the ’cause’ and violence in children as the ‘effect’. This is a backwards way of looking at it. When we look at the ‘affected people’ first we can generally link it to a different ’cause’.

Cartoon: violence (medium) by Christo Komarnitski tagged violence,computer,games,life
(Komarnitski, 2010)

Real Life Example, Anyone?

Consider the case of ‘Martin Bryant and the Port Arthur Massacre‘.
On the 28th of April 1986, Martin Bryant allegedly  murdered 20 people at Port Arthur, Tasmania in Australia. The Newspapers, the Hobart Mercury and The Australian ran biased Photoshoped images and suggested Bryants violent behaviours was attributed to his consumption of ‘violent’ films and ‘bestial’ pornography. Investigations showed these claims to be fictitious and psychological reports indicated Bryant behaviour could be attributed to his experience with mental and psychological turmoil.

This is a clear cut example of how media can be shown in the wrong light as the ’cause’ of violent behaviour when it’s not necessarily the case.

Final Thoughts

The current media effects model is backwards and the way we approach it when researching the links between violent media and violent behaviour is problematic. There are so many other aspects to consider in this area that it’s near ignorant to assume consuming violent media can have a direct adverse effect on the consumer.

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