In a recent show aired on NPR in San Francisco, Michael Krasny interviewed
three prominent authors who have written extensively on the subject
of media violence and its impact on children.
In the wake
of the Sandy Hook catastrophe, Jim Steyer of Media Matters stressed
the point that we live in a culture of violence, and the school
shootings are a sad phenomenon that underscores this reality.
The other two
interviewed were university scholars who have published numerous
studies and literature reviews on the subject of media violence.
Dr. Christopher Ferguson of Texas A&M claimed that his and his
colleagues’ studies have shown no causal connection between
children watching media violence and their subsequently becoming
involved in actual violence. Dr. Brad Bushman of Ohio State University
maintained that the literature was ample and clear: immersion of
children in media violence seems to lead to greater aggression in
children, along with greater desensitization to real violence and
greater fear of violence.
compared Dr. Ferguson’s position to that of global warming
deniers in the academic community. He stated that about 95% of scholars
agree with his position and only 5% with that of Dr Ferguson. Dr
Ferguson disagreed with this characterization and stated that, as
time passes, his position will be proven correct.
Though I very
much agree with Dr. Bushman’s position on this matter, I disagreed
with him on one of his major points. He stated that in studies done
with children and adolescents, experimenters cannot induce their
young subjects to first play violence video games or watch large
amounts of violent media and them give them guns or knives and see
what they will do with these weapons. This would of course be unethical
on the part of the experimenters, he states.
with this statement. In fact we are as a society doing this experiment
on our children daily in our communities. We allow our children
to be immersed in hour upon hour of media violence and we also allow
more or less unlimited access of our children to guns and rifles
and even semi-automatics. So was the case with the Sandy Hook shootings.
As forensic experts have made clear, in many of the mass killings
of late, young people who “trained” for their killings
sprees by playing hours of violent media games. Presumably they
not only improved their eye-hand coordination as video games seem
to do, per various studies, but also they desensitized themselves
to violence and probably heightened their physiological arousal
levels. All of this can be seen as prequel to the shooting sprees.
So we are doing
this experiment on our kids on a societal level, and things are
not going well for the society.
Drinka, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and the author of The
Birth of Neurosis: Myth, Malady and the Victorians (Simon &
Schuster) and thought he would be a great fit for your site. His
new book, When the Media Is the Parent, is a culmination of his
work with children, his scholarly study of works on the media and
American cultural history, and his dedication to writing stories
that reveal the humanity in us all. Dr. Drinka has an insightful
blog on Psychology Today where he comments on the obstacles the
media brings to children and the parents that raise them.
For More Information
or to Cantact Dr. Drinka: McKenzie Morrell Meryl L. Moss Media Relations,
Inc. | 155 Post Road East, Suite 8 | Westport, CT 06880. McKenzie@mediamuscle.com