The mass media significantly influence behavior. Juveniles are especially vulnerable to the mass media. This condition points to concerns on possible negative effects of the mass media on juvenile behavior. For instance, families are concerned about the influence of mass media violence on the development of juvenile delinquency. To understand the effects of the mass media on juvenile behavior, one must recognize the various factors and the kinds of media and how they affect young people. The underlying assumption is that the mass media can significantly affect juvenile behavior. Thus, violence and aggression in the mass media potentially lead to juvenile delinquency.
This article analyzes the effects of the mass media on juvenile behavior, especially with regard to delinquency and violence. Possible solutions are also explored.
Effects of the Mass Media on Juvenile Delinquent Behavior
The mass media continually widen their reach into households. At present, the mass media can easily reach even very young children in their homes. Television, radio and computers contribute to the increase in the exposure of juveniles to mass media content.
Violence and aggression are mass media content characteristics that continue to spark debate. Critics point out that violent content and violent video games lead to higher rates of violent behavior among juveniles. In efforts of addressing this issue, families and communities now increasingly focus on collaboration of parents and families, law enforcement and secondary environments such as schools.
How Violence in Television Shows & Movies Affect Juvenile Behavior
The violent content in television shows and movies can impact juveniles’ behavior. When a juvenile watches violent content, he becomes a passive recipient of such content. The problem is that juveniles can learn violence based on such exposure to violence. The juvenile could easily imitate violence and aggression he sees on TV and in the movies.
Effects of Violent Video Games on Juvenile Behavior
Video games are now a frequent mass media influence on juvenile behavior. The violent content of many video games lead to debates on how such content influences violent tendency and the wellbeing of juveniles. In exposure to violent video games, juveniles have an active role. Video games require players to decide and perform in the games. Thus, juveniles make active decisions to participate in violent activity when playing these video games.
The frequent prolonged exposure to video game violence leads juveniles to adopt violent traits. These traits may be based on these juveniles’ game characters. Video games can lead to higher risk of violent behavior among juveniles. The young video game player becomes more exposed to violent content and adopts violent traits in his behavior.
How the Internet Correlates to Juvenile Delinquent Behavior
The Internet correlates to juvenile delinquent behavior. Juveniles can easily view questionable actions presented online. Young people can easily view violent videos and images online. Juveniles could also adopt these questionable actions into their own behaviors. Even seemingly safe daily surfing can easily allow juveniles to access violent online content. Such violent content in online mass media leads to negative changes in juvenile behavior. Prolonged and repeated exposure to violent online content encourages young people to develop similarly violent behaviors.
How Certain Types of Music Affect Juvenile Behavior
Certain types of music, such as gangsta rap, are a potential factor leading to juvenile delinquency. Music is a means of delivering messages to listeners. In music like gangsta rap, violence and aggression are easily observed. Music like gangsta rap typically sends a message of violence and aggression. Vulnerable juvenile listeners can easily tune in to the message and adopt delinquent violent and aggressive behaviors.
The labeling of music also matters. If a juvenile realizes that his favorite gangsta rap music is associated with gang crime, he would likely link violence and crime to such music. This makes him aware that he likes the sense of violence and crime in music, leading to two possible effects:
- The juvenile moves away from gangsta rap to search for music that does not promote violence and crime.
- The juvenile continues to deepen his relationship with gangsta rap and develops violent and criminal behavioral tendencies.
Available Options to Combat and Deter Juvenile Delinquent Behavior
The options available for addressing juvenile delinquency are as follows:
- Laws against violence and delinquent behavior among juveniles
- Parental control and involvement in juvenile activity
- Support of secondary social environments like schools and community groups
- Stricter regulation of the mass media on violent content
These options are aimed to increased awareness on the dangers of juvenile delinquency linked to exposure to violence in the mass media. To succeed in addressing the negative effects of violent content in the mass media, all players (parents and families, law enforcement and schools, etc.) must recognize the significance of such violent content in juvenile behavioral development. Also, policing programs can deter violent behavior. Familial support can increase positive behaviors and discourage negative behaviors among juveniles. Stricter regulation of the mass media is a preventive but difficult-to-implement step.
Violent content in the mass media potentially leads to juvenile delinquent behaviors. To successfully address this issue of mass media influence on juvenile delinquency and violence, support and participation of all stakeholders are needed. A holistic approach is beneficial.
- DeLisi, M., Vaughn, M. G., Gentile, D. A., Anderson, C. A., & Shook, J. J. (2013). Violent video games, delinquency, and youth violence new evidence. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 11(2), 132-142.
- Ferguson, C. J., & Olson, C. K. (2014). Video game violence use among “vulnerable” populations: The impact of violent games on delinquency and bullying among children with clinically elevated depression or attention deficit symptoms. Journal of youth and adolescence, 43(1), 127-136.
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- National Institute of Justice (2015). Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent Illicit Drug Use of Youth.
- North Carolina Department of Public Safety (2015). Family, School, Community, and Economic Factors Associated with Juvenile Crime in North Carolina.
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2015). Implement an Aggressive Public Outreach Campaign on Effective Strategies To Combat Juvenile Violence.
- Pinker, S. (2010). Mind over mass media. The New York Times.
- United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (1990). United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency.