“It bleeds, it leads”

It is almost impossible to casually channel surf without coming across violent or aggressive behavior. According to the Media Education Foundation:

  • Research shows media violence has not only increased in quantity, but is more graphic.
  • A 2000 study by the Federal Trade Commission indicated that 80% of R rated movies and 100% of music with explicit content warning labels are being marketed to those under the age of 17.
  • By the time the average child is 18, he will have viewed 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on television.
  • Nearly 75% of violence acts on television show no immediate punishment for the violence.

With this much violence in the media, it is no wonder that, “There are over 1,000 studied showing violence in the media contributes to aggressive behavior.”

Fortunately, researchers have found a link between media literacy and the decrease of the effects of media violence. A 2006 study by Scharrer focused on a literacy program intended to encourage learning and critical thinking about media violence.

93 public school 6th graders were subject to five, hour long sessions in which critical thinking about the media and learning about media violence were encouraged. The children were given pre and post-program evaluations after watching clips from The Adventures of Johnny Quest, World Wrestling Federation, X-Men, and other images of violence in the media. Results show that the media literacy program was effective in stimulating critical thinking of media violence. The participants also expressed an increased belief that media violence is the responsibility of the media (Scharrer, 2006).

With adages such as, “It bleeds, it leads,” we see that violence in the media is a large selling point and story line, however, it is important to be able to analyze the images shown in the media. Media literacy is key.

Visit Violence Formula for tips and lesson plans to educate children about violence in the media.

Scharrer, E. (2006). “I Noticed More Violence.” The effects of a media literacy program on critical attitudes towards media violence. Journal of Mass Media Ethics. 21(1), 69-86.

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