Response to “Violent Media is Good for Kids”

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In Gerard Jones’ article “Violent Media is Good for Kids”, Jones argues his points on why violent media may benefit children.  Most of his conclusions are based on his personal experiences, as well as people he has met throughout his life.  I admit that Jones is convincing in his argument; he made me look at my life and how I was brought up.  Though I do not think I am in agreement with his beliefs on this subject.

When I was growing up and I played sports and was very physical.  I would say my healthy outlet was exhausting my energy.  Children have different outlets to choose from, not all kids play sports.  Still, I don’t think violence in media is therapeutic. Of course, I think every little kid has some sort of toy that they play with to keep them occupied; therefore I’m not 100% sure that there isn’t some sort of growth factors tied into the psychology here.  Jones definitely has a unique point of view.

To be completely honest, I think that Jones definitely found his way through life using violent media.  Now he wants to justify and rationalize his upbringing because it is what helped him.  The problem I see here is that Jones is over-generalizing his statement by saying “Violent Media is Good for Kids”.  I’m not an expert on the topic by any means but this avenue of thought is just silly to me.  How can it be healthy?  Perhaps it may be healthy to an extent, but rationally I believe that there must be a better way to grow up.  They should do more research on this topic and check the brain levels of stress release, self-esteem tests, some psychological testing, and see what kind of results occur.

My underlying belief is that there are better ways of coping with life and learning to socialize, without the use of violent media.  I’m not knocking on Jones but I think there are more effective ways to learn to live life on life’s terms than media violence!

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24 thoughts on “Response to “Violent Media is Good for Kids”

  1. Although I do agree with some of the points that you have brought up within your response, I do not believe that Jones’ intention was to over generalize that “violent media is good for kids”. Despite the long discussion that he delves into about comic book superheroes and utilizing violent media as an outlet to control rage, from my point of view, Jones meant to emphasize the importance of exposing the young and the naïve to the complexities of violence so that they are better equipped at dealing with it later in their lives. The fact of the matter is, violence in this world is ubiquitous and merely shirking it off at a young age and uttering, “all violence is bad and should be avoided”, is inane. Jones’ suggestion of how we should avoid mirroring the ordeal that the Victorians created when they “confused their children about their sexuality” is of great importance (Jones 39). Oftentimes, when parents try to completely shield their children from certain things, it will only create a greater inclination later on for the children to take matters into their own hands- which can be disastrous without moderation in the beginning. This may be out of the realm of what I am really credible to discuss, but as Sigmund Freud had idealized, all humans in their natural state are very emotional, violent creatures- as is represented by their id. He theorized that all humans have this facet of their psyche that represents their compulsive and instinctual emotions: the feelings of lust, love, anger, violence, greed and so forth. Jones is therefore rational when he states that violent media can be used to harness the natural aggression that is so innate in all of us.

  2. I am in total agreement with you. Exposing kids to violent media is not a therapy I say it is more of a way of teaching them to be violent. I have a nephew who looks up to my brother. My brother is a 15 year old teenager who plays violent games. He plays all these call of duty games it is about soldiers at war shooting the enemy trying to get the most kills. When my nephew was younger he never wanted to play with guns or fake swords those were objects that weren’t allowed at the house; just the way we were raised. But when my nephew was never allowed to be in the room when there were violent games or movies playing. As he got older the more he spent time with my brother the more he saw violence and saw the violent remarks between boys and their games. The more aggressive my nephew became and wanted to act. He was always picking up random objects and pretended to kill people. Before that he never had that Idea in his mind. He would play games occasionally get in altercations with his sister but he would take it out like kid would fight, cry or throw tantrums. I don’t believe in introducing violence to kids because I think they should find their own ways of bringing their aggressive and violent side on their own. Kids learn how what is therapeutic to them in their own ways some watch Tv, take naps, eat for all I know but giving them something violent is teaching them violence. Children are violent in their own ways but not to an extreme. Kid’s brains are like sponges they pick up and learn everything. There right from wrong isn’t so clear yet. What if they think what they are seeing or reading is okay since the character can do it than why shouldn’t I. everyone sees things differently and will never know the response to what goes through kids’ minds. Why not giving them another outlet.

  3. I totally agree with you! Especially your introduction as I was reading the article, “Violent Media is Good for Kids” there was a point where I agreed with Jones. He made his argument very convincing. I stepped away from the reading and tried to put my thoughts together if I did agree with Jones or not. Of course, I did not agree with Jones; I have always encouraged kindness! I definitely agree with you when you say, “Still, I don’t think violence in media is therapeutic.” I don’t think it is either there are other ways kids can express their “rage” as Jones mentions. As you mention your “outlet” was sports mine was art when I was a child. Some kids find their outlet through music, dance, and books but I don’t think violent media is necessarily good for kids. Apparently, it worked for Jones very well but I think back on how many kids do I know that violent media has helped them growing up. Zero. I liked your point on doing some more research over this topic. That would definitely be a good rebuttal for Jones and all of his personal examples in his article.

  4. It is understandable why you would think that Gerard’s point of view is wrong, especially with all of the violent outbursts happening around the nation this past year, but I disagree with you. Just because some people cannot handle seeing violence in television or comics doesn’t mean that it is poisonous for the majority of people. That would be like saying all people who drink are alcoholics, which isn’t the case. There are some people with the ability to restrain or discard these descriptions as fantasy in therapeutic ways and they should not be penalized for the wrongdoings of those who are unable to. It’s not fair to classify the majority based on the actions of the minority.
    Gerard gives a specific case of a little girl going through a difficult time in her life alone and how she uses fantasies to express how she is feeling. It helped her cope in a non-violent way by pretending to be violent on paper. He also mentions that she grows up to be “a leader among her peers.” (38) Most people have a mentality more similar to hers. I was like you and had my aggression subdued with sports, but people who have no physical outlet to relieve anger have to find a different way to release the emotion. It’s healthier to see fictional violence and write about it than to actually act upon the feeling.

    • Caley, you made a really good point! I love your statement, “That would be like saying all people who drink are alcoholics, which isn’t the case.” It makes me want to go back and change my post. I guess I can just relate to both sides.

  5. I will have to agree with you on this subject. I don’t believe that children should be playing violence video games at all. I agree that children that are going through a rough time in their life should go toward different things not deal with it by playing violence video games. I do agree with what you said that “Jones is over-generalizing his statement by saying “Violent Media is good for Kids”.” Jones should be doing more research on this subject, because I don’t believe that all children should be playing violence video when they are going through a rough time at home or either school. For example in Practical Argument page 43 John Leo says “In the Colorado Massacre Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris used pistol-grip shotguns, as in some video arcade games.” The Los Angeles reported, “The teens cackled and shouted as though playing one of the morbid video games they loved.” So I believe that violence video games should stay away from children and young teenagers. I believe that you are correct throughout this blog post you showed good points and made me rethink about the reading and go back and realize that Jones might have been wrong with the whole Violent Media is good for Kids.

  6. I agree with your post. Who NEEDS violence in their life as a kid? A little is ok, perhaps an action-packed film or a TV series that you watch growing up. I remember watching Jackie Chan movies and he left a lasting impression on my childhood. But to claim that kids these days are in need of violence is almost ridiculous. To me, there are many other ways to let out your aggression. Go to the recreation center and punch a punching bag, for example. I was an active kid growing up as well, and that was my biggest outlet. Looking forward to my soccer games and baseball games was what I lived for and what I loved to do. I disagree with Jones’ argument, although it does make me think. Maybe those Jackie Chan movies taught me to not be such a wimp, or the Walker Texas Ranger series’ growing up showed me that a little bit of violence never hurt anyone. Either way, I don’t feel like kids need violence in their lives as a child in order to relieve aggression, unless you’re planning on being the next Jackie Chan than, that is.

  7. Hey zsharp0. I was reading your blog post and I can’t seem to stop agreeing with you. Children have many different ways they grow up and learn about the world. Some children may grow up like you did by playing sports, or some may grow up like Jones said, by watching violent media. Yes violent media could be non-beneficial to children but there must be a reason they were created and given a “G” rating. For example, as Jones mentioned in his article, Tarazan is considered a violent media, yet it is one of the most watched Disney movies of all time. Also if you think about it, so are Toy Story and even Shrek. All of these movies are “G” rated and still considered violent media but they still educate kids and post a message. Yes there maybe a little fighting and lasers’ flying but that shows the children that the world isn’t paradise and that life isn’t fair. However I also agree with you on that maybe Jones had grown up watching violent media and now he is trying to influence others to watch it and have their kids watch it to become successful. But like you said, violence isn’t always the answer.

  8. I am in agreement with zsharp0, I feel that Gerard Jones’s article is very misleading to many who read it. It is purely opinionated with no real evidence to back it up. Melanie Moore Ph.D. is only one psychologist mentioned in his article that agrees with Mr. Jones and they currently work together. Personally I would need to see a lot more evidence to make this article credible. Mr. Jones also neglected to mention that several of the shooters in the school shootings were mentally ill. This has a huge impact on how people re-act in different situations. It is possible that a mentally fit child could be exposed to violence and not act upon what the child has seen but the probability of a child who is mentally ill being continuously exposed to violet comics, cartoons, etc. may try to act out what they have seen. Overall I believe that Gerard Jones’s article is based on his own beliefs and there is not enough factual evidence to back it up.

  9. Although I understand your point, I believe that you are mistaken when you say that Jones is over-generalizing his statement about how violent media is good for kids. Jones is not arguing that everyone will benefit from violent media; he only insists that violent media only serves as an outlet for expressing the various feelings children have hidden away deep inside them. Although I agreed mostly with the article, I also found your point about how children have different outlets to exercise their unwanted emotions to be interesting. I feel that no matter what method you choose to use to let out these emotions whether it’s by watching TV, playing video games, or playing sports such as you have done, these have all served the same purpose: to be an outlet for the feelings that children lock away. Not all children are good at sports, so they look toward other methods to express these feelings. Without an outlet, children could keep these unwanted feelings with them for life and this could prove destructive to them later in life.

  10. I definitely see two sides to both the blog and the article. As a young boy, I loved playing with my Power Rangers action figures, and watch the Ninja Turtles on TV. Even though it was a fun, stress relieving activity, looking back, this was the most aggressive stage of my childhood. I remember during recess time in school I would go to the sand box with other peers from class, and pretended they were my enemies while we threw sand balls at each other. As I got older, I surrounded myself with friends who loved sports, and used to play during recess time. Eventually, I was so occupied with hanging out with my friends; playing ball, that I didn’t want to have fights with my “enemies”. I found a better, safer outlet. I was able to enjoy my time with my friends without being violent.
    I think providing a child with a superhero figure is great. It gives them a world of fantasy and imagination but it is important to make sure the amount of time they spend watching, or playing with that superhero is well controlled. Kids today do need better outlet than sit in front of their TV, playing video games to spend their free time. For thirteen years now I have been a dancer. Dancing has provided me with a safe outlet. After a long, stressful day at work or school, I turn to dance. I go to my studio and put my heart and mind into what I love doing most. When I dance I’m able to separate myself from the world; concentrate on the movement, choreography, and emotion behind the music. Dance helps me take a step back from reality, and use my imagination and skills as an outlet. There are healthier, and more entertaining options out there that might help a child spend quality time with themselves while developing skills, and passion towards what they do. All one needs to do is take the time to find it.

  11. I agree with you but realistically speaking, kids at some point in their life with encounter some type of violent situation. Not saying parents shouldn’t try and protect their children from these situations, because any practically parent would I’m saying in this day and age that will be very hard. I know from experience; I grew up in a household that was very sheltered. My mother and grandmother made sure myself and my sisters attend church, bible study, and Sunday school weekly. There was no time for misbehaving, so wanting to read comic books was not an option. My mother in some ways agreed with Jones mother she felt that on some level comic books were not for a child to read.
    As my siblings and I grew up, because we were so sheltered we all rebelled in many ways. Now looking back I believe the reason we did this was because we were always told not to do certain things, but we were never told why. It was just the same response all the time, because that’s not good for you or, because it bad. To a child hearing that will make them do the very opposite. I’m not condoning parents to let their children watch rated “R” movies, what I’m trying to say is its necessary to a certain extent. An extent so your children can be prepared for the “real world”.

  12. I like that you bring up the fact that every kid is different in his or her upbringing and it is difficult to generalize a group that diverse. I completely agree that Jones shouldn’t be so quick to claim that “Violent Media is Good for Kids” like an evident truth that lumps every kid across the world in one common group. However, Jones himself is evidence that violence can bolster confidence and doesn’t necessarily have to create a violent psychopath. The fact that he exposes his own son to violent comic books to inspire confidence is proof that he isn’t simply rationalizing, but that he fully believes that violence can do good in a child’s life. The issue with violent pop culture is making sure the child has a sense of what is right and wrong when it comes to situations beyond the screen of their TV or the pages of their book. A “ten kill streak” may have been rewarded in Call of Duty, (which I used to play regularly) but I have enough sense to know not to translate that idea into real life. We live in a culture where individuals love to place blame on anything besides themselves, and I believe Violent Media is nothing more than a scapegoat for Violent behavior. Healthy for all? Probably not. But Healthy for some? I’d like to say so

  13. I agree that violent media is not the best thing for children. I also believe that violence such as school shootings are not behind things like the game Black Ops or the movie Die Hard. I understand with what Jones was saying in this way because a lot of violent things have been blamed on children viewing violent media, but honestly it has to take a lot more than that to want to do something so drastic. When I was little I wasn’t very ‘protected’ and ‘sheltered’ and saw so much violent media but that didn’t make me want to go out and do whatever it is I saw and I’m sure that most kids don’t. In my belief it takes a lot to turn a child so pure and new violent and there definitely has to be more at play than cartoons. I do believe that there are some children just born with anger. There have been many murderers that had a perfectly normal life with a supportive mom and dad and some people just can’t find out what went wrong. Even though I agree that media violence isn’t the single source behind the cause of violent acts such as bombings and school shootings I do agree with you that it isn’t the best way to bring a child up. I feel like all of us are born with creativity and it doesn’t take violent media and comic books to make us imagine ourselves as super heroes and princesses. Jones was very sheltered as a child from what he states and I feel we should not completely shelter our children and make them blind to all the creativity around them.

  14. Hey zsharp0. I am in complete agreement with your blog. I also believe that there are other ways to cope with life than violent media. In my English 1301 at my university we had a project that was the topic of controversy. We were allowed to pick any topic we wanted and I chose “Are violent videogames healthy for children?” As I was researching I came across a study performed at the University of Indiana. IU researchers wanted to study the effects of the brain after one week of playing a violent videogame. They gathered 28 healthy adult males, ages 18 to 29, with low exposure to violent videogames, and split them into 2 groups of 14. The first group was instructed to play a shooting game for 10 hours at home for one week and not play the following week. The second group was instructed to not play for the two-week period. At the beginning of the two weeks the men underwent an fMRI and another one after the two weeks. “The results showed that after one week of violent video game play, the video game group members showed less in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional Stroop task and less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex during the counting Stroop task, compared to their baseline results and the results of the control group after one week. After the video game group refrained from game play for an additional week, the changes to the executive regions of the brain returned closer to the control group. Stroop task tests an individual’s ability to control cognitive flexibility and attention.” (communications.medicine.iu.edu). To conclude this lengthy research explanation, the lack of brain function in the left lobe in the brain and long exposure to violent video games could be a fatal consequence. The research study only focused on adult males; imagine what a study would show on adolescent children. I think that if children are playing these violent video games then the parents should closely monitor their children’s behavior.
    Here is the link of the research study:
    http://communications.medicine.iu.edu/newsroom/stories/2011/violent-video-games-alter-brain-function-in-young-men/

  15. While I, and indeed Jones himself, agree that violence is not the sole avenue to developmental success, I must agree with the idea that our culture is all too often one of over-protection, and often holds the belief that happiness is the only ‘good’ feeling to have, at the exclusion of all others. But to be a well-rounded person, you must be able to experience and ultimately accept all the emotional elements within your mind. One reason why your opinions may differ from those of Jones is based on the definition of violence. While the word generally conjures up thoughts of chaotic destruction, I think what he was really getting at when he said that “Violent media is good for kids” is based on the underlying feelings that lead to, or are associated with, violence. Violence itself is more of a reaction than an action, the external effect of a deeper emotion.
    I might call this emotion aggression, or assertiveness. It is the thing that forces us on in the face of imminent trouble, which allows us to stand up for ourselves, rather than hide behind someone bigger. And there is an intrinsic form of aggression required for competition of any sort, especially sports. After all, why would you want to do better than your competitors without a good reason? Without a feeling that they are a threat to your team’s standing, and hence, your own? So while actually going out and beating someone up to channel your aggression is a bad idea, seeing how fictional characters handle their aggression, and indeed, channeling your aggression through them, experiencing their satisfaction vicariously, is a very important aspect of understanding how to control it and use it to your advantage, to drive you on through life’s challenges and not have to rely on others.

  16. I definitely agree that there are better outlets for emotion as a child; I, too, played sports to release my energy and it worked wonderfully. However, as you said, every child has a different personality; therefore, they are going to need some different way of expressing themselves. The problem lies with where the line is drawn on such games. I worked at Target and day after day parents would buy their seven to ten year old children mature rated video games and hand it to them as if it was a stuffed animal. At this point, these games become not an outlet, but a seed for extreme behavioral issue (and who knows where exactly that behavior will lead them later in life—normal social life or the extreme antisocial personality disorder). I thought that to a certain extent, Jones’ argument was a very intriguing perspective. I think you will agree with me when I say that the examples Jones illustrated were more extreme circumstances of social or mental stress from finding where to fit in. When supervision is given, such as Jones’ example with the young girl, I see no problem with violent media being used therapeutically.

  17. Joyce Sikazwe
    I absolutely agree with your post. I personally believe that not any violence is good for kids. Gerard Jones might have found his way or figured out himself though violent media but I still don’t think any type of violence whatsoever is healthy for kids. I love the fact that you question your readers “how can it be healthy?” .That definitely makes people think harder about the whole situation. I also love the fact that you put in examples from your personal life that helps us as readers try to understand where you are coming from. In the reading Gerard Jones gives a really interesting example about his son, he talks about how his son overcame this fear of climbing tress because his dad read him “Tarzan comics”. Even though I still do not agree with his beliefs I find that to be very interesting. That experience proves that we all have our own way of dealing with certain things in life. When I was growing up I wasn’t really an athletic kid but I was really social. I understand that everyone is different and we all have to figure out our own paths on our own. It may not be something that anyone agrees with but it’s definitely your own choice. Being social surely helped me figure out myself and it helped me be more comfortable with who I am, therefore violence in media may not always be the case.

  18. You raise a good point on how there are many other healthier ways for children to vent their emotions than violent media; however, I do not believe that Jones’ intent is to state that violent media is to really provide an outlet for the children to exhaust their energy, but is more so to use it to “become more capable of utilizing it against life’s challenges.” (Jones 38) I believe that having exposure to violent media is crucial to the development of a child’s character and development, but to a certain extent. I do not think that providing children with gun-like controllers and video games that allow them to gain joy from shooting at people and objects is something that is necessary for the growth of them psychologically. You see technology playing a huge role in this, as many parents are beginning to use programs such as Leapfrog to begin educating their children at a young age. What’s to say that these violent interactive games would not do the same and create the illusion to children that they are being educated on how to use a gun through their gun-like controllers? I do think that seeing the violent aspects of the world through television, books, pictures, and other outlets is beneficial for children because it protects them from being so incredibly shielded. Our world today is considered more violent than it has been in the past by many largely due to the increase of media coverage. Through protecting our kids by keeping them from seeing any violence, they will not be able to defend themselves or know how to respond once they go out on their own. Having this exposure to violence will ensure that when the person has to face a situation that may parallel their experience with violence during their childhood, they will be well equipped to handle the situation.

  19. Having read the article, I believe that you have raised good points. I found your point about children having different outlets to be interesting. I agree with the notion that there are many options to choose from to escape the need for violence; however, I feel that while some kids resort to sports, others effectively use violence in the media to overcome these feelings. Children oftentimes find violence in video games, comic books, toys, and music to be entertaining. They won’t necessarily pick up weapons and commit violent acts. I agree with you that it is not for everyone, though, and perhaps that isn’t what Jones is arguing. Jones is arguing based on personal experiences as well the experiences of those around him. I found a recently released movie to be appropriate for this discussion. “The Purge” carries a message that emphasizes the human need to release feelings of rage and power-hunger, most effectively done through forms of violence. In the movie, the employment rates, economy, and government are at their all-time highs because they are given 12 hours a year to commit any illegal act without government and medical intervention. I do believe that it is extreme; it is fiction. It does, though, argue the need for violent media, consistent with Jone’s argument. People need a way to express themselves and relieve tension one way or another. If it it’s through violent media, so be it. I feel that it is better through media that acting out violent actions themselves if these feelings really are inescapable as Jones had argued.

  20. I strongly agree with this post because Jones uses a lot of personal experience to argue his point. He assumes that what was right for him should work for everyone else. Most of his arguments do not adequately address both sides of the issue. For example, they do not take into account the majority of humanity, only the small percentage of those who use video games. What about people from history who had no media, or those today who lack the funds to buy the games? They cannot rely on video games for an outlet to overcome rage and fear but other outlets like sports as zsharp0 said. Besides, a kid who plays violent video games all the time will eventually start to imitate the violence seen, whereas the same kid involved in sports would be more likely to get the violence out of their system without taking any more in.

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