Media Representations of Violence Are Often Distorted
Research statistics from more than 1000 studies carried out since the 1950s, on the effects of violence on television and in movies, paint a grim picture indeed. One of their conclusions is that by the time a child is eighteen years old, he will witness on television 200,000 acts of violence and 40,000 murders with average viewing time Huston et al, 1992). Another study shows that children aged 8-18 spend 6½ hours of their total time awake before television. This accounts for 44.5 hours a week. The only other activity they carry out more than this is sleeping, Kaiser Foundation (2005).
However, there are even more potent media. This is the interactive type in which individuals take part in the illusion of participating in the actual violence and creation of mayhem. These are violent video games or play-stations. People, especially children and the youth, who participate in these games, experience the illusion, thrill, adrenaline, instinct and swift reflexes of actual violence, without any real threat to themselves. This creates the belief that violence is fun in which nobody really gets hurt. However, when they use what they learn in reality someone does get hurt very badly, not least of all themselves, Gentile, D. A. &. Anderson, C. A. (2003). Interactive games like this are more likely than television programs which are passively watched, to instill a culture of violence in their audience.
Radio has been used, especially in less developed societies where television is not commonplace, to create far-reaching violent propaganda. A case in point is the radio RTML in Rwanda that played a primary role in inciting the minority but well-armed Hutu tribesmen against their Tutsi countrymen. By constantly referring to the Tutsis as cockroaches and a threat to Hutu security and progress, the Hutu controlled media contributed in mobilizing the militant members of their community to massacre close to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus, UNHCR (1995).
Over the years, newspapers and magazines have played their part in fanning mass violence in society. Though their role has been increasingly subordinate to that of Television in recent times, they still have one thing that TV and radio will never have: staying power. A two-year-old magazine or a ten-year-old one can still be read today and is just as entertaining. Official policy in most newspaper publishing houses is that news sells and violence is the most dramatic news, Clutterbuck, R. (1981). Stories in the press just like on TV give emphasis to violent content to attract readers. Advertisement content also portrays catchy phrases such as “the toughest”, “the invincible”, “no-nonsense” and “unbeatable” which have an underlying message of violence and dominance. In brief, there is an overt representation of violence in the print media just like in the other forms. Print media has gained more rather than less ground. In a world in which it is increasingly possible to reach a global audience through electronic superhighways and linguistic translations. and rapidly increasing literacy levels. they reach an even larger audience.