There has been an increase in exposure of violence represented through porn, computer games, the internet and so forth. The internet has allowed violence to be more accessible. With the increase of digitalisation, the debate surrounding the effects of the media and its connection of violence has become more prolific.
Let's take a look at the case of Jamie Bulger. (See the file right).
For years there has been a link between what people watch and their actions. The first study which was in the 1960s showed preschoolers a video of an adult playing with an inflatable doll. In the video, the children watched as the adult sat on the doll, punched it in the nose, hit the doll on the head with a mallet, and kicked it repeatedly. After watching the video, the children were brought into a playroom with the same doll and lots of other toys. As predicted, the kids who watched the aggressive video imitated what they saw—they beat the doll with a mallet, and they punched and kicked it. What was most surprising was that the children found new and creative ways to beat up the doll, and they played more aggressively with the other toys in the room as well. In other words, children didn’t just imitate the aggressive behaviours they saw; seeing aggressive behaviours caused these kids to play more aggressively in general (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963).
More modern research indicates that videos can also affect the type of weapon children play with. Researchers from Ohio State University brought pairs of 8- to 12-year-old children into a lab and showed them a 20-minute version of a popular PG-rated movie—either the Rocketeer (1991) or National Treasure (2004). In the edited movie, the children either saw that actual movie footage, which contained characters using guns, or they watched a version where the guns were edited out. They were then presented with a large room that contained various toys including Legos, nerf guns, and games. Not surprisingly, the children who watched the movie with the guns played more aggressively than children who watched the movie with the guns edited out, consistent with previous research. In addition, the room also contained a model gun which recorded how many times the trigger was pulled. 83% of children found the gun and 42% played with it and. 27% gave it to the experimenter and handed it in. 42% played. Children who watched the films showing violence pulled the trigger 3 times more often. Worst cases involved a child pulling the trigger 20 times and another pointing it at civilians out of the window (Dillon, & Bushman, 2017).
Therefore, we can conclude, there is a relationship between showing and watching aggression in children.
There have been limits to the suggestion that the media is linked to violence however. The Broadcasting Standards Commission (2003) decided that children were not blank slates and fully impressionable. Instead, they have the ability to be active and make judgements about what to believe. Cumberbatch (2004) on behalf of the Video Standards Council highlighted that there is little conclusive evidence to support that the media caused violence in society.
Ferguson was critical of previous supportive evidence because most experiements were completed under lab settings. In 2014, he assessed how the media's coverage of violence is related to aggression visible by society e.g. Crime Rates. No relationship was conclusive.