Comments about ‘Media violence 'unchained': Multiple studies show kids are adversely affected by violence in entertainment, news’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 12 2013 4:20 p.m. MST

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orem, UT

A a mom of 5 kids I noticed a difference in my kids behavior and what they were exposed to, even innocent PBS movies affected them. The show "Arthur" had the main character and his little sister constantly being rude to each other. My kids were getting the message that communication between siblings has to be impatient and angry - and I watched it play out in real life. As their exposure to that particular show decreased so did their quarreling.

As an elementary school teacher one of the best ways to teach a concept is to model it. Kids internalize what they are exposed to on a regular basis. Those who seek to justify gratuitous violence are ignorant.

That fact that studies in this article confirm this is no surprise.

one old man
Ogden, UT

We need far more people with the courage to speak up against movie and TV violence. And even more to simply turn off the TV, to contact sponsors and let them know that as long as they sponsor garbage this family will not be buying their product. We need to stay away from theaters and let the managers know why.

I cannot understand why so many good magazines, from Parents to the Ensign have given up on publishing lists of movies and TV shows that are recommended and not recommended. Those things need to be brought back.

Deseret News, when you will be starting?

Tooele, UT

I'm always leery when it comes to blaming violent films, TV shows and video games on real life violence, mostly because there have been very few instances examples of someone saying, "I only decided to commit this crime after watching a violent movie."

One example of when that did happen was back in 1971 when Stanley Kubrick's film "A Clockwork Orange," came out. Following the release of this film, there were dozens of robberies, rapes and assaults committed throughout the UK by youth who dressed and spoke like the main characters in Clockwork Orange. After several murders were committed by copy cat youth, Kubrick pulled the movie from UK theaters.

For the most part though, it is hard to say for sure how much of an impact violence in entertainment contributes to violence in real life.

However, to say there is no connection whatsoever between the two is foolish. If there was no connection at all, why then do we have ratings for films, TV and video games?

one old man
Ogden, UT

But Clark, how often does a person who commits an act of violence really understand in their own mind exactly why they did it?


Parents have to exercise judgement and use common sense. Too often parents don't exercise appropriate judgement. It is better to err on the side of caution and protect/limit exposure to violence in the formative years--including violence that happens within the home or neighborhood. Many times parent's will say, "oh, my child would never do that," but how many adults can accurately predict their own behavior in every situation?

I remember many years ago watching the (violent) movie, "Total Recall" in a theater and seeing a young child (not baby or toddler) at the movie with 2 adults, I guessed were his parents.

But I wonder how many children are growing up in homes where the paranoid parents listen to hate radio every day and feel they need to be be armed to protect themselves from the govt. and intruders. Yikes!

orem, UT

Clark - one old man's response to you is valid. As the article pointed out kids and teens become "programmed" for more violence when they are exposed to it regularly. It gets wired into them. Their conscious thinking doesn't register the direct connection because that thinking becomes a part of them that they can no longer be objective about. That is human nature.

Tooele, UT

@one old man

You said - "I cannot understand why so many good magazines, from Parents to the Ensign have given up on publishing lists of movies and TV shows that are recommended and not recommended."

Two reasons why such lists would not work:

1. Lists like that would have to be continually updated over and over again. Who would be in charge of policing and updating all this info?

2. There are many TV shows and movies which on the surface appear harmless, but in subtle ways contain messages that many people might find objectionable. For example, I know many people, including active LDS Church members, who love the movie Forrest Gump, but Forrest Gump contains numerous swear words including the using Lord's name in vain. It also has several scenes of out of wedlock sex and drug use. Which list would Forrest Gump be on?

You asked - "But Clark, how often does a person who commits an act of violence really understand in their own mind exactly why they did it?"

I have no idea, but that to me has more to do with mental illness rather than violence in entertainment.


There are those who claim playing violent video games doesn't do any harm because it is make believe, yet seems I've read that some recent shooters, who were considered loners, spent time playing those types of games. Why is it only children we should worry about who watch violent movies, play violent video games? None of the recent shooters were children, but I'm pretty sure the seed for their dastardly deeds was planted by things they saw, read, or played. We need more uplifting movies to see, and movie people (including the stars) who refuse to write, produce, or act in destructive trash. We need to stop supporting the trash being produced. Sad that a chain saw movie has made so much money.
@ClarkHippo -- I doubt any one movie has resulted in the acts of deranged individuals, but a pretty steady view produced ideas in their minds. I don't think they would even recognize the effect upon them, the change is usually a subtle one.

Provo, UT

one old man and others:

I am by no means a die-hard "conservative" and I've seen a few violent movies in my time and even played some violent video games in my day like "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto." I hear those might be tame by today's standards.

But here's the rub, of course images and what we see and view impact us. Heck, why would a company bother to advertise on TV if they thought it didn't have an effect?

My wife and I are school teachers and we went to work right after tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT. But my young son expressed fear in going to school. It's not that we showed any fear of going to school but his young mind was trying to digest the images he had seen on the news and all the talk.

Further, as a history teacher I show videos in my class. Let's say if I show something about the Holocaust or the Civil Rights movement, I want it to have an impact, perhaps even make my students uncomfortable--but in a good way. Images can be powerful teachers.

Henderson, NV

Forrest Gump was a favorite of mine when first released, but by that time I was an adult and could put its images into context. I compare that to seeing the film The Exorcist when I was only 13 (yes, I had very liberal parents) and I had nowhere to put those images, though I was sensitive to its vileness.

Today as a Latter-day Saint, I can appreciate the change in the Strength of Youth pamphlet which used to counsel youth to simply not see “R”-rated films. Instead the broader counsel today is “Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is
vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.” In other words, church leaders (and parents) no longer can rely on industry standards or ratings.

FYI, Meridian Magazine does have a movie reviewer writing for them from an LDS perspective. Jonathan Decker is his name, and I do read and consider his reviews before I view films today.

Paris, 00

As long as society and religions will give all power and authority to men and will not make it a duty for men to be nice and kind and behave, we will not need movies to make violence a reality.... it exists already in all kind of forms in the world.... and starts with some having too much power and other having no civil rights to ask redress for abuse .... wherever ... and it is not one community which is worse than the other ... it is a world wide problem

DN Subscriber 2

Will the Deseret News and its corporate cousins be consistent on this issue, or bend their moral indignations into hypocrisy by complaining on one hand and taking money with the other?

The Deseret News' cousin, the KSL on line classified operation, banned gun listings after the Connecticut murders to "do their part in stopping violence." Now we have the Deseret News printing an article confirming that minds are warped by the garbage passed off by Hollywood as "entertainment."

So, will we see a refusal to print ads for the violent, and especially sadistically violent "entertainment" such as the new movie Django, or not.

After all "if it saves just one life, you must do it for The Children!"

Medical warning- do NOT hold your breath waiting for this to happen!

Eden, UT

Please remember, all western countries have access to the same violent movies and video games as we do. They have very little gun violence. The only variable that is different in the United States, compared to Canada, England, Germany, etc. is the fact that we have access to guns. The readily available firearm is the issue. It is disheartening to see the Deseret News deflecting public attention away from the real issue - access to guns. 30,000 people will be killed with a gun in the United States - next year if we choose to do nothing.

Spanish Fork, Ut

These studies can't be right! What if I like my violent movies and video games? The only things I'm influenced by in the media are positive messages! I prefer to focus on guns. Yes, guns must be the only problem. Get rid of guns and people will have no further desire to be violent or wicked.

Orem, UT

Those who defend violence in entertainment argue that a movie doesn't "make" someone go out and shoot people, otherwise everyone who sees a violent film would be committing atrocities like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine High. Pointing to a lack of extreme acts, however, does not disprove the effect of violence.

I've noticed over the years that my students who are aggressive, angry, defiant and prone to bullying tendencies tend to talk more of the violent media they enjoy. The effect of violent media cannot be quantified with massacres any more than the effect of sexual media can be measured only in rapes. Each of us has a complex mind, where decisions are weighed based on many factors. It is foolish to forget that school bullying and violence, domestic violence, suicide and other harmful behaviors can also be encouraged by violent media, but these do not get nearly the attention as shooting sprees.

One sure bet: The movie industry is not our friend. They are not looking out for the interests of its viewers, particularly children. It is a cold, irresponsible, self-serving bunch in Hollywood, and we would be wise to remember it.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

There is such a thing as a 'cancer swarm' -- a community or region where there is a statistically higher likelihood of getting cancer than other areas. In many cases, the cause is a single facility or an industry that releases a carcinogenic chemical. Let's say someone builds a plant next to a city with a 100,000 people and the plant emits a pollutant that causes 10 deaths for 10,000 people per year from cancer. That means a 100 people are going to die a year from the plant. That represents 0.1% of the population.

The person who built the plant lives next door to the plant and does not get cancer. (He is in the lucky 99.9%). He gets interviewed by the media complaining about the cancer swarm, he argues, "Lots of people are living next to my plant and they are healthy. People were getting cancer before the plant was built. The cancer swarm is not my fault."

Movie directors who profit from gratuitous violence are the same as the hypothetical plant owner.

Powell, OH

Media violence? Like Road Runner and Bugs Bunny cartoons that show blowing up and shooting the intended victim?
We live in a free society where censorship is evil. Produce whatever you want. I can CHOOSE what to watch and what to read. I don't need Government, religion or foolish people telling me what I can or cannot partake of.

Centerville, UT

We need Hollywood to quit being such a huge bunch of hypocrites. They all did a PSA on 'Demand a (gun control) Plan!" Yet, these are the same people making millions off of violence.

Of course movies and video games have an effect on people. Everything has an effect on you one way or the other and to one degree or another. The NRA is not the problem in America today. They aren't the ones profiting from violence. Hollywood is.


Let's not demonized TV. Granted, TV can influence a person's behavior, so can a basketball or baseball game, and books (but I don't see anyone "burning" books). TV is already regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as by responsible parents (or should be), and other institutions. However, guns are not well regulated, in some cases (states), there's no control. Let's talk about gun control, that's the real issue here, let's stop blaming "liberals", "TV shows", "video games", etc. As I mentioned before, and as mentioned in this article about TV violence, "children are adversely affected by exposure to it" and "on-screen violence can negatively impact viewers". It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting "The Second Amendment!!" as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there. Although gun control will not eradicate violence, it will certainly help regulate the sale, manufacture and use of guns and as happens in other countries, decrease gun related deaths.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

From the article:

"A consensus about the interpretation of the scientific evidence is shared by a majority of academic researchers . . . This consensus has two parts: (a) Media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior among the audience, short-term and long-term. The magnitude of the effect depends on person, product and situation characteristics. (b) Media violence is not the only, and likely not the most important, factor contributing to aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior."

Violent movies, TV, and videos are not the only contributors to our fascination with violence. But it is clear they are contributors. Can some resist that influence? Sure. Will the vast majority become killers? No.

But can a few folks (perhaps prone to violence, easily influenced, or maybe just less healthy mentally) be influenced to commit violence?


Are there other issues to discuss? Yes. But let's not gloss this one over.

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