Media Violence Laws and Their Effectiveness

Rising levels of violence in the media, be it in movies, computer games, or the Internet, have been a topic of concern for the last several decades. With technological advancements in the television and gaming industry, violent entertainment is becoming more and more realistic. The appearance of computers, game stations, and other gadgets opened the door to a completely new level of interactive violence. Concerned parents, teachers, and psychologists are well-aware of how addictive computer games can become. The government responds to this tendency by implementing Media Violence laws in an attempt to curb or control the flow of violence released on the population from the screens. These practices can hardly be called innovative. One of the first and most well-known censorship practices in America was the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as Hays Code, adopted in 1934 and abolished in 1968. This code was meant to guard the moral integrity of the viewers and put severe limitations on scenes of murder, sex, and violence.

Nowadays, media violence in the USA is regulated by the Computer Decency Act and Telecommunications act of 1996. The Computer Decency Act, however, was deemed unconstitutional by Congress due to its advocacy of censoring cyberspace. In addition, any previous attempts to censor the Internet have failed, as it requires a massive amount of resources and facilities. The only country that managed to successfully censor the internet, if partially, was China. The system was dubbed “The Great Firewall of China” and was made possible only due to the totalitarian government system the country has in place, thus making the method unusable for the rest of the world.

The topic of media violence and media violence laws was always a controversial one. On one side of the barricade, there are psychologists and concerned parents who fear for their children. On the other side are children and other concerned citizens who do not want the government to regulate what they can and cannot watch. They are joined by several researchers, who claim that violence in video games and movies has no effect on the collective psyche of the nation.

Newspaper outlets tend to associate video game violence with the latest school shootings. On the Internet, there are plenty of articles that analyze and compare school shootings and their perpetrators. They often have one thing in common – an addiction to violent shooters and videogames. However, it could be argued that the addiction to violent videogames was simply an outlet to release repressed emotions – an effect rather than a cause of violent behavior. Accusers of videogames tend to focus their attention on that factor alone rather than other factors that may have a much greater impact on a person’s overall psyche – such as school bullying, hounding and prosecuting from their fellow peers, lack of psychological support at schools, and other factors. To this, the accusers tend to answer that media violence cultivates an atmosphere of acceptable violence, which in turn becomes real violence. The argument becomes cyclical.

The purpose of this paper is to study the available research materials in order to understand the overall effect of media violence on the increase of criminally violent behavior in the USA and other countries. In addition, the paper will analyze the effectiveness of media violence laws in reducing potential violence.