Sie sind auf Seite 1von 40

Desensitization in Children 1

Media violence can develop desensitization in children, which can potentially develop anti-social
disorder and violent behavior.


David Caban, MBA

Desensitization in Children i


Media violence is a social role model that tends to cultivate the minds and social behavior

of children. This can result of children developing desentization to violence, which affects

prosocial development. Also, children can develop aggressive and violent behavior at an earlier

age. This can affect biopsychosocial development (Jarrett, 2005). For instance, it affects the

brain, the heart and the central nervous system (CNS). In addition, this affects children’s

cognitive development, which impairs social skills, and critical skills development, which

impedes social development (Chory-Assad, 2003; Jarrett, 2003). Media violence causes seizures,

insomnia and impairing any interest in educational development (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).
Desensitization in Children 3

Table of Contents

Title 1
Abstract i
Introduction 4
Statement of the problem 4
I. How media violence develops desensitization in children. 6
a. Emotional Desensitization 8
b. Cognitive Desensitization 10
c. Anti-social and violent behavior 11
II. The continuing process media influences violent behavior in children. 13
a. Social Cognitive approach, as it relates o media violence. 14
b. The historical trend of media violence as it relates to society 15
c. How the media impacts society, especially children 16
d. Field study performed in schools and survey juvenile facility. 19
e. Participants & Procedure 19
f. Results 19
g. Laboratory studies 20
h. Participants & Procedure 20
i. Results 20
j. Schematic and scriptive theories as it relates to media violence. 22
III. How children develop psychopathic behavior as a result to media violence. 23
a. Neurological disorders 24
b. Physiological affects as a result to media violence. 26
c. Newer theories recently expounded on the desensitization theory. 27
IV. Media violence having no evidence of having any causal affects. 28
a. Misrepresentation of earlier findings 29
b. Disruptive behavior disorder vs. normal behavior in children. 30
c. Children diagnosis with the predisposition to violent behavior. 31
V. Conclusion 32
VI. Recommendation 34
VII. References 35
Desensitization in Children 4


The parental role model is the central figure that influences children’s attitude and social

behavior (Watson et al., 2001). The script that parents display to children is the major role in the

development of aggressive scripts (Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p. 391). The scriptive role theory

was developed by L.R. Huesmann (2003) he determines that children viewing media violence

would observe the character attitude and behavior. However, they would learn from the

aggressive script such as, cartoons and violent video games (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).

Therefore, aggressive behavior is both a learn behavior, and predisposition (Anderson &

Bushman, 2002).

This can develop into desensitization to violence, which can potentially develop conduct

disorders that can lead into anti-social behavior disorder that can affect early adulthood

(Anderson & Dill, 2000).

Predisposition and learned behavior share a commonality; because children can learn

and-or have the predisposition of aggressive behavior (Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p. 382-383).

These two variables can potentially lead into violent behavior and the desensitization to violence.

However, depending upon how heavily children are expose to media violence, as well as their

predisposition can determine the outcome (Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p. 383).

Aggressive scripts are developed in three different phases (Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p.

383). Acquisition and encoding phase is the first script that children would learn, and it is placed

in memory (Anderson & Bushman, 2002; Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p. 383). Similarity, to a
Desensitization in Children 5

video recorder as children witness violent behavior it is stored into their memory (Borden &

Horowitz, 2002, p. 383). This develops attitudes, which culminates social behavior. Continuous

exposure of media violence tends to reinforce children’s behavior (Borden & Horowitz, 2002,


The second phase is called the store script. This occurs when children think of

aggressive thoughts that are put into action (Borden & Horowitz, 2002). Children would think of

an aggressive script and would play it out aggressively. For example, children learning

aggressive scripts from Power Rangers, Looney Toon Cartoons, and professional wrestling,

which display acts of aggression and violent behavior (Anderson & Bushman, 2002; Huesmann

et al., 2003).

The third phase is the retrieval and emission phase, which is the internalize script that

develops children’s attitude, and is performed similar to an event displayed through the media

(Borden & Horowitz, 2002, p. 383; Huesmann et al., 2003). According to Anderson (2002) he

describes those children who witness the use of weapons to resolve social dispute on television is

likely to replicate that role. Furthermore, this becomes a concept in semantic memory. Scripts are

play writes that are rehearsed, which can be utilizing to resolve social disputes (Anderson &

Bushman, 2002; Huesmann et al., 2003). For example, children playing a violent video game

involving the use of weapons therefore, in the presence of others a child can perform very well

(Borden & Horowitz, 2002; Chory-Assad, 2003).

Desensitization in Children 6

Statement of the problem

Desensitization to violence is a serious social illness that affects society, especially

children. What has been the problematic-issue since the dawning of the mass media is that media

violence is being displayed in children programming. The entertainment industry is aware how

media violence can have serious biopsychosocial affects on children. Instead, of rectifying this

social issue it has focus more on developing newer techniques to expose aggressive and violent

behavior to children. Perhaps, this might be a corporate-political agenda.

How media violence develops desensitization in children

The desensitization theory is based on two-distinct variables; children consumed by media

violence, and media violence influence on children (Huesmann et al., 2003). The desensitization

of children is a high level of aggression, which is caused by an excessive exposure to violent

settings such as, media violence and other social violence that stimulates the stimuli in most

children therefore, becoming more accessible to violent behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003). Also,

this particular society would tend to influence others within their environment. For instance,

children who are desensitized to violence would influence other children to become adaptable to
Desensitization in Children 7

such attitude and behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003). Furthermore, children could become

adaptable to other types of violent behavior. For example, bullying, lack of educational interest,

glorified violence, especially amongst their peers. This is because violence is a part of their

cultural belief system (Borden & Horowitz, 2002). As a result, other children within their social

environment would either duplicate their behavior through adaptation, or would tend to become

equally aggressive, because of fear or threat (Huesmann et al., 2003). This can potentially

develop to an aggressive behavior that can lead into a violent behavior, because it is a reflection

of their environment (Huesmann et al., 2003). For instance, children feeling threatened by bullies

and other acts of violence, which can develop an aggressive behavior to retaliate. Similar to the

columbine incident that Klebold and Harris experience, who were bullied in school, but resulted

through the adaptation of becoming violent. Therefore, they retaliated against those within their

social surroundings, who refused to accept them within their inner-circle (Huesmann et al.,

2003). As a result, they murdered over twenty-six individual’s including, teachers and fellow-

students who socially deprived them (Huesmann et al., 2003). Researchers that investigated this

incident believed that there might be a causal affect to the crime, because most of the students

and teachers killed in the incident were supposed targets (Huesmann et al., 2003).

Desensitization does exist in a variety different ways such as, systematic desensitization,

which is a therapeutic intervention for children that have been proven to alter behavior, such as,

emotions, negative behavior and feelings (Huesmann et al., 2003). Children that have suffered

from emotional and other behavriol disorder where able to be treated through this process.
Desensitization in Children 8

However, while relating desensitization to real-life and media violence is the opposite approach

to systematic (Funk et al., 2003).

Desensitization affects in both real-life violence, and media violence, and the two types of

negative desensitization, which are emotional and cognitive (Funk et al., 2003).

Emotional desensitization

Emotional desensitization is the numbing of emotional responses, which is contrary to the

typical response. The individual no longer has the empathy for non-violent settings, but rather be

associated within a violent setting. Children would begin to behave violently such as, condoning

acts of violence and persist in violent thought, which can become violent actions (Anderson et

al., 2003, p. 96).

The mass media influences children to become heavily expose to media violence. As a result

become more desensitize to violence, which reflects lack of empathy towards society (Huesmann

et al., 2003). This can develop anti-social behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003). For instance, the

social cognition of children is their perception of their social surroundings, but media violence

enhances their social environment through social role modeling displayed through violent media

characters. In addition, children also learn violence through their parental role modeling, which

also influences and cultivates children attitude and social behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003). For

instance, parents allowing their children to play violent video games, because the parents
Desensitization in Children 9

themselves embrace violent behavior (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Furthermore, a group that

influences such as peer and hate groups that influences attitude and social behavior would also

integrates media violence, because it is a reflection of their environment (Green & Krcmar,

2005). Media violence gratifies one social environment through social gratifications, which is

also influence amongst other peers (Borden & Horowitz, 2002). Therefore, media violence

becomes the reinforcing mechanism that enforces negative behavior responses (Green & Krcmar,

2005). That affects emotional responses to aggressive and violent behavior (Huesmann et al.,


Funk et al., (2003) described that children who viewed violent screens would typically not

respond to their parents, or guardian regarding this problem (Funk et al., 2003). Because, the

media tends to explain certain actions that influences children’s perception therefore, children

could have the difficulty deciphering between violent acts and non-graphics screens, because the

media through hypnotic capturing the minds of the audience (Funk et al., 2003; Jipguep, 2003).

As a result, children could develop a callous state of mind, which displays little or no empathy to

their environment. Therefore, children would develop the cognitive dissonance that aggressive,

and violent behavior is socially accepted (Funk et al., 2003).

Funk et al., (2003) later described that the original violent graphics that allowed children

perception into a violent world intensify their cognition to think aggressively (Funk et al., 2003).

Therefore, children would become adaptable through cognitive schematics, which cultivate their

perception that the world is a violent place. In addition, constructing their cognitive perception,
Desensitization in Children 10

which develops an aggressive attitude; and as a result, affecting their social behavior (Borden &

Horowitz, 2002). Therefore, increasing the chances of society, especially children to become

more tolerable too violence (Funk et al., 2003).

Cognitive desensitization

Cognitive desensitization is the precept, which establishes a belief system that dictates

violence is inevitable, therefore; the ideology of censorship is obsolete, because it is a continual

process (Funk et al., 2003). As a result, the level of aggression would intensify within society,

especially children (Funk et al., 2003).

The brain of children is within the developing phases therefore, it becomes desensitize

through acts of aggression and violent behavior, because children are taught through social role

modeling that such attitude and social behavior is socially accepted within their environment

(Huesmann et l., 2003). Therefore, becoming receptive to violent acts, as well as culturally

accepting violent behavior within their social environment (Jarrett, 2003). Furthermore, leading

children to develop biopsychosocial ramification at a much earlier stages of development as

oppose to later in life (Huesmann et al., 2003). For instance, the arousal of the stimuli during
Desensitization in Children 11

intensive exposure to media and-or real life violence. This can result to potential physical

deficiency. For example, overeating, this increases the chances of developing cardio problems at

a much earlier age. The excessive exposure to violence causes excessive body perspiration,

which can result to earlier dehydration, and quick responses to anger. This can potentially result

to, acts of real-life violence (Huesmann et al., 2003).

According to Huesmann et al., (2003) described that children, especially those heavily

exposed to media violence can develop negative responses, and as a result “to observe blood,

gore, and violence” (p. 202). Children who are heavily exposed to media violence can become

desensitize to violence. In fact, media violence such as, violent video games that displayed

excessive bloody body parts, gory scenes that resulted in injury and-or death of an opponent or

victim can influence children to be desensitize to violence (Huesmann et al., 2003). As a result,

the acts of violence would become an acceptable perception, because children would perceive as

normal acceptable behavior (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin et al., 2003). This is the concept of

desensitization of violence in children.

According to Murray (2001) described that cognitive desensitization increases exposure to

violence therefore, becoming more sensitive to violence, as well as becoming adaptable to

violent behavior (Murray, 2001).

Researchers have determined that children who are heavily exposed to media violence stem the

probability of dieting to violent behavior and violent settings (Anderson et al., 2003; Murray,

2001; Vold et al., 2004). Furthermore, becoming more culturally adaptable to a violent nature,
Desensitization in Children 12

this reflects one’s physical identity, as well as social interacting within an environment that

embraces violent behavior (Vold et al., 2004).

Anti-social and violent behavior

Children can learn acts of aggression and violent behavior through observational modeling

that is describes or portray through social learning such as, media violence (Murray, 2001).

While children are viewing acts of violence through the media they develop a cultural belief

system, which suggest that such attitude and social behavior is acceptable within their

environment (Borden & Hororwitz, 2002; Murray, 2001). Therefore, as the media creates

superhero figures the entertainment and toy industry would integrate these toy products with

violence (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin, 2003).

This stems any plausibility that such social integration between children programming that

displays acts of violence, and children observing a social role-model called the toy; therefore, the

toy becomes the reinforcement model to influence children to mimic these violent cartoon

characters, as well as socially integrate within their social environment (Chory-Assad, 2003;

Levin et al., 2003). As a result, children would tend to become affluent with such attitude and

social behavior displayed by their favorite cartoon media character (Chory-Assad, 2003). In

addition, this enhances children’s perception of their environment therefore, developing the

conceptuality that the world around them is a violent place (Chory-Assad, 2003). As a result,
Desensitization in Children 13

children can become desensitize to the concept of violence therefore, developing similar

characteristics of certain violent media characters (Chory-Assad, 2003).

This type of conceptuality should be govern by either parental or guardian role modeling, and

not violent media characters display throughout the media (Murray, 2001). However, parental

influences may suggest that what their children view through the media may be socially

acceptable (Kronenberger, 2005; Huesmann et al., 2003). In other words, parental and-or

guardian role modeling accepts their children to view media violence; however, such

conceptuality can be phenomenal, because, perhaps of multivariable (other social and

environmental factors) factors that attributes to violence (Watson, 2001). This can result into

anti-social behavior, because violence whether media, and-or social violence does cause children

to develop an anti-social behavriol disorder (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Huesmann et al., 2003).

The continuing process of how the media influences violent behavior in children.

It has been determined by earlier researchers that real-life violence, and media violence

alters society belief system, including behavriol processes (Funk et al., 2003). Society is targeted

by violence, especially children; however, media violence tends to target children, because a

child’s brain is still within the developmental process (Murray, 2001). Therefore, becoming more

manipulative through mind altering techniques such as, violent graphics displayed in children’s

cartoon programs, and kid’s entertainment (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin et al., 2003) In addition,

children spent more times expose to television (media violence) opposed to parental social
Desensitization in Children 14

interaction, as well as playing outside with other children (Murray, 2001). In fact, entering

adulthood at the age of 18 years, children would already witness over 200,000 acts of violence

displayed through the media (Brown et al., 2005). Contrary, to the amount of violent acts they

witness in real-life (Funk et al., 2003).

Children view violent behavior differently than adults, because adults would tend to

perceive violent behavior as socially acceptable behavior (Funk et al., 2003). This concept is

developing through both thoughts and action events since childhood; such as, witness acts of

violent behavior more often and frequently, as well as witnessing violence through the media

(Murray, 2001). Thoughts, is what is stored into children memory after they witness violent acts

this could have short and long-term affects, which would affect early adulthood (Anderson et al,

2003; Huesmann et al., 2003). The affects of violence whether media, and-or real-life violence

such as, wars, sub-cultural violence and media violence impedes children development (Murray,

2001). Iterate the exposure of media violence and its social acceptance; society would tend to

lean more on media violence, which would affect their prosocial development (Anderson &

Bushman, 2000; Huesmann et al., 2003). This can insinuate that media violence becomes more

of a psychosocial gratification, because it is a reflection of one’s social identity and social

environment to violence (Green & Krcmar, 2005).

Social cognitive approach as it relates to media violence.

Desensitization in Children 15

The social cognitive approach is the emotional arousal of children thought process as it

relates to their environment (Murray, 2001). The problem that has daunted society for several

decades is the role model of the mass media, but what has become the problematic-issue is the

continual enhancement of newer media products such as, the internet, video program, which

display violent graphics that enhances children’s exposure to violence (Funk et al., 2003;

Huesmann et al., 2003). This tends to have lasting influencing affects that remain within

children’s thoughts, even during early adulthood (Bandura, 2001; Murray, 2001).

Cognitive approach is the perception of one’s environment (Macionis, 2000). It is a

perception how one’s perceive their social environment (Bandura, 2001). However, media

violence would tend to become a role model that display influencing posit, which influences

children’s thoughts; and as a result, instill a belief system, which enhances children’s cognition

within their environment (Macionis, 2000; Murray, 2001). Belief system is what constructs

society cultures, and way of life. Therefore, within an electrified society such as, the western

world the mass media is a cultural practice, which expresses our cultural way of living (Brown et

al., 2005). For instance, children programming, Disney Movies, cartoon network and other

children and adult sit-coms display closer resemblances of everyday social interactions (Chory-

Assad, 2003).

Children’s influential social characteristics existing within the environment such as,

cultural attitudes, social behavior, including violent behavior and acts of aggression become a

part of their social identity. This is a result of the continual exposure to violence (Funk et al.,

2003). In other words, both tend to correlate, which means that media violence becomes the
Desensitization in Children 16

influential mechanism that reflects society’s attitude and social behavior (Green & Krcmar,

2005). Therefore, media violence may not have a causal-affect that stimulates aggression, but

rather a correlational-affect (Brown et al., 2005). Media violence and real-life experience of

violence tend to correlate, especially, while the media influences society to perceive what is

within their environment (Murray, 2001). For instance, events such as; wars, news media that

may present mis and disinformation, and other media outlets that displayed violent acts of

aggression; especially, children programming, because children stem to be the targeting audience

to influence attitude and social behavior (Chory-Assad, 2003).

The historical trend of media violence as it relates to society.

Media violence has been a problematic-issue since the dawn of the early 1950’s (Brown

et al., 2005). Warner Brothers, since the early 1930’s produce and created cartoon characters that

displayed aggressive and violent behavior (Brown et al., 2005). For instance, Woody

Woodpecker, which displayed acts of violence and aggression by slapping the face of his

opponent or victim that demonstrated that both aggressive and violent behavior does work;

therefore, children can learned both aggressive and violent behavior through observation

(Anderson et al., 2003). As a result, are convinced through reiteration that aggression does work

likewise violent behavior (Brown et al., 2005). This also true to current children’s program

displayed in the media, such as, Kid’s Next Door, Disney movies and other cartoon programs

that display to children and adolescents that aggressive and violent behavior does work.
Desensitization in Children 17

However, the level of aggression has intensified sine the early 1950’s through modern

technology and cultural setting; such as, toy’s (G.I. Joe, Power Ranger, etc.,) and video games,

which replicates to modern day society. As a result, the attitude and social behavior displayed

through these cartoon characters are acts of aggression, which result into violent attitude and

behavior (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin et al., 2003).

How the media impacts society, especially children.

How the media impacts society is through an array of media outlets that are already made

available to the public such as, television, electronic video game, cell phones and other electronic

components. In addition, the Internet, and in most institutions; such as, schools, universities and

banking facilities have television that posit societies mind. However, the most intensify target

had always been children, because their mind is still within the development process (Chory-

Assad, 2003).

Media had always displayed programs that entertain children such as, cartoons, kid shows

and superhero cartooning, which display acts of aggression that involves acts of violence (Funk

et al., 2003). Since the mid-1980’s Congress passed a bill, which allowed corporation, especially

the media industry to display unlimited acts of violence within the media; especially, children’s

programs, children’s toys and other children products that display acts of violence (Chory-Assad,

2003). For example, cartoon characters such as; power-rangers, Spiderman and superman, these

images are also displayed through toys and video games. In addition, the Internet, a child can
Desensitization in Children 18

download video games, and also installed video programs by downloading from a compact disc

(CD). As a result, this developed into newer cultures; cultivating children’s mind to become

adaptable by imitating media characters display through the media (Levin et al., 2003). However,

the characters displayed violent imagery to children, and the graphic imagery portray are very

influential to children; for example, the attitude and social behavior portray by superheros,

through observation children can learn to become adaptable (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin et al.,

2003). As a result, children would tend to portray these similar characters within real-life events,

because they developed a belief system, believing that this type of attitude and behavior is

normal (Chory-Assad, 2003; Levin et al., 2003).

Children cognitive development would portray similar ideas, by becoming adaptable,

which develops aggression in children. When children become more aggressive within their

social interaction it would affect their attitude and social behavior (Chory-Assad, 2003).

Therefore, media violence does have adverse affects that impacts society, especially children

(Fallon, 2006). Furthermore, affecting the physiological aspect of children such as, the brain, the

heart and the central nervous system, this has serious biopsychosocial ramification (Fallon,

2006). For instance, violence can impose physical harm to the individual, which can result in the

development of psychopathic behavior (Fallon, 2006).

According to Brady (2005) she described that media violence displayed within the home

is similar to home violence, because mass media is a social role model that is portrayed within

the home (Brady, 2005; Huesmann et al., 2003). This would have long-term schematics affects

for children, because acts of violence within the home have a long-term affects (Eiden, 1999).
Desensitization in Children 19

Therefore, domestic violence, which displays acts of victimization, does display a role modeling

that children may develop (Borden & Hororwitz, 2002). As a result, children can establish the

prediction of accepting the social role model by becoming more aggressive that displays violent

attitude and behavior within their social-interacts, especially in schools, and within the home

(Brady, 2005; Fallon, 2006; Watson et al., 2001). Furthermore, Children cognitive, which is their

perception becomes the priming cognition to act aggressively; therefore, would integrate the

thought process of aggression, and would acts it out, because they had already developed a belief

system that this is how you handle certain social issues; such as, bullying, fighting, as well as

displaying other acts of aggression that may be considered victimization (Brady, 2005;

Huesmann et al., 2003). The priming cognition is aggressive thoughts, which are schematic

cognition, that have long-term affects, which can affect early adulthood (Huesmann et al., 2003).

Therefore, children would perceive violence as an acceptable role modeling, which affects

attitude and social behavior (Borden & Hororwitz, 2002; Huesmann et al., 2003). In addition,

through the scriptive role modeling children would learn aggressive and violent behavior through

observational learning viewed through the media, as to how to resolve their social disputes

(Huesmann et al., 2003).

Field study performed in local schools and survey juvenile facility.

Participants & Procedure

Desensitization in Children 20

Prior studies determined the affect of media violence and aggression in children. A

survey performed by Champion and Durant (2001), showing a sample of 285 urban adolescents

(children) in the 4th and 5th grades that were graded (survey only, NOT school grade) as to their

preferences of media characters (Champion & Durant, 2001). They have the option, which media

character that they prefer, violent media characters or non-violent media characters (Champion

& Durant, 2001; Brady, 2001).

The results:

The results, every one of these students prefer violent media characters, because of their

experience of witnessing violent acts of aggression portrayed through the media. Also, some of

these children were victimized through child abuse, and other types of home and community

violence such as, domestic violence (Brady, 2005). Another sample, of 110 incarcerated boys’

within a juvenile facility was diagnosis with violent behavior disorder however; they were

incarcerated for violent crime, which is associated with violent behavior (Brady, 2005). For

instance, conviction for assault and battery with a deadly weapon, shootings and stabbing their

victim, with the intent too victimized through arm robbery (Brady, 2005). However, each of

these boy’s were associated with attributed bias, maladaptive social goals, and genetic approval

of violent traits; which is a genetic inhibition, and-or predisposition; but it was inhibited while
Desensitization in Children 21

witnessing severe acts violence as a child and it was associated with perceived positive outcome

of aggression (Brady, 2005, p. 11-12).

Laboratory study

Participants & Procedure

A laboratory study was performed with 1266 participants (students) from a local junior high

school (Brady, 2005, p. 32). Also, consent form that was approved by parents, students, as well

as the local educational institution that authorized the study (Brady, 2005).

The goal was to determine the level of aggressive behavior during and after playing two

separate video games (Brady, 2005). The procedure was children watching and playing violent

video games.

The two different games are as follow (Brady, 2005):

1. Grand Theft Auto III

2. The Simpson’s: Hit and Run

The two different results during and after while playing these video games revealed similar

results, because all the variables were equally distributed; for example, the laboratory assessed

negative affects reflect three variables; anxiety, depression, and anger (Brady, 2005, p. 36). In
Desensitization in Children 22

addition, the physiological measurement, which consist of; systolic blood pressure (SBP),

diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and the pulse rate (PR) (Brady, 2005, p. 36). The measurements

were taken before and during video game play, which determined the children’s status prior to

playing and while playing the video game. The aim was to determine how aggression is

stimulated while children are viewing media violence, inconjunction to children who are playing

violent video games (Brady, 2005, p. 36).

The results:

The results were of two separate levels; the first level revealed that the participants showed

little to medium range of aggression. The higher the score revealed a higher level of aggression,

and the lower the score is lessor aggression (Brady, 2005). The laboratory assessment that scored

for negative affects was through the Reduced Profile of Mood States (POMS) this was measured

through a cuff placed on every participants arm, and the score number was displayed on the

screen (Brady, 2005, p. 36). Furthermore, the children also had an armband that would read

body movement. This was very important, because children would display physical

confrontation while experiencing a high level of aggression (Brady, 2005). Other determinants

were through observation of children attitude and social behavior while playing the video games,

as well as facial expression and skin perspiration (Brady, 2005; Huesmann et al., 2003). The

findings discovered by Huesmann et al., (2003) revealed similar findings discovered by

Desensitization in Children 23

Champion and Durant (2001) therefore, the reliability of this finding shows consistent results

(Brady, 2005; Neuman, 2003).

The second level the participants became angry, frustrated, and showed negative response

through physiological arousal during game play (Brady, 2005). The cognitive behavior outcome

revealed hostile social-interaction, which is the performance of attitude and social behavior that

mirrors violence (Brady, 2005). As a result, becoming more desensitized to violence, because

children adapted the aggressive, and-or violent role model they witness while viewing and

playing violent video games. In addition, children began to display less empathy toward society,

in other words, showing less consideration to those around them (Brady, 2005).

Schematics and scriptive theory as it relates to media violence.

The schematics and scriptive theory are two distinct theories that focus on media and social

violence that affects children prosocial development (Huesmann & Bushman, 2000). For

instance, schematic theory suggests that children can store acts of aggression for short and long

term periods, which can affect early adulthood (Brady, 2005). Scriptive theory suggests that

children can learn aggressive and violent behavior by observing violent media characters; such

as, cartoon characters and violent video games, which children can integrate socially to resolve

similar real-life events (Huesmann & Dill, 2000). Therefore, children could display such acts of

aggression by integrating aggressive, and-or violent thoughts into actions (Huesmann et al.,

2003). Media violence as a social role modeling becomes the reinforcing mechanism that
Desensitization in Children 24

stimulates aggression, because children social cognitive would perceive that aggressive and

violent behavior is socially acceptable (Bandura, 2001). In addition, children having the

predisposition to violence also relate to other factors of violence, such as, media violence,

because of self gratification (Green & Krcmar, 2005).

The schematic theory also focuses on the neurological pattern of the human brain, which

affects attitude and human behavior; especially, while exposed to media violence, and other

factors of violence, which imposes harm to the brain (Fallon, 2006). According to Murray (2001)

he describes, “The pursuit of neurological pattern in viewing media violence would likely start

with the amaygdala”. This description of the social cognitive approach suggest that the

amaygdala is a “well establish role; because this controls the physiological response, which

affects the emotional arousing, and threatening stimuli” (Murray, 2001). As a result, this affects

the human cognition, especially in children; because children are influences through the media to

become adaptable to violence; especially, while being confronted with threatening, and

emotional events (Murray, 2001).

How children develop psychopathic behavior as a result to media violence.

The development of a psychopathic behavior, especially among children can be cause for

different reason; such as, violent settings, media violence and violent predisposition (Funk et al.,

2001). The exposure to media violence can arouse children’s physiological stimuli, which

intensify a higher level of aggression found in children. As a result, children would become more
Desensitization in Children 25

aggressive, which stems the probability of developing desensitization to violence, and the

development of psychopathic behavior (Fallon, 2006; Huesmann et al., 2003). Huesmann et al.,

(2003) described, “several studies had already determined a relation between media violence and

psychopathic behavior” (p. 102). Through several experimental, observational studies and

longitudinal studies had since determined that media violence is related to violent behavior,

which can culminate to psychopathic behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003, p. 201-202). In addition,

to other psychological studies and assessments that determine the effects of media violence, as it

associates with both aggressive and violent behavior (Huesmann et al., 2003, p. 2003). However,

there are other multivariable that are associated to the developmental of psychopathic behavior,

which are linked to media violence, such as; neurological abnormalities, poor child rearing and

socioeconomic deprivation. In addition, poor peer relation, frustration and provocative; as well

as other factors that play a pivotal role that precipitated children to develop psychopathic

behavior (Fallon, 2006; Huesmann et al., 2003).

Neurological disorders

The orbital cortex which is the socket for the human eye is located in the prefrontal cortex,

which is consider in front of the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls one’s social interaction

(Fallon, 2006). This also controls impulsive behavior, ethics, morality that can project future

outcomes (Fallon, 2006, p. 345). In addition, this controls morality of humanness, rewards, and

regrets, which can display empathy towards either individual, and-or society (Fallon, 2006, p.
Desensitization in Children 26

345). Furthermore, adjacent is the ventromedial cortex, ventral anterior cingulated, which

controls the medical treatment for individual’s that undergo psychoanalysis for treatment (Fallon,

2006, p. 345). The frontal lobe includes temporal lobe, amaygdala and parahippocampal gyrus,

which determines the etiology of violent psychopathology (Fallon, 2006, p. 345). Therefore, if

there is any damage to the orbital cortex during childhood it can result to the development of

psychopathic behavior (Fellon, 2006, p. 341). Also, adults that may experience any damages to

the orbital cortex, or other nearby regions can result to the development of psychopathic

behavior (Fallon, 2006, p. 334). For instance, Vietnam Veterans that suffered head injuries,

which resulted in impulsive aggressive behavior. The individual would know what their doing,

but have little, or no control of their behavior (Fallon, 2006, p. 341).

The orbital cortex determined the individual social interaction to psychopathology. In other

words, act out violently, because within the region of the frontal lobe evidence of damages that

disrupt the circuitry of the central nervous system that controls behavior patterns (Fallon, 2006,

p. 347). Through this process of disruption would lead into aggression and violent responses,

which includes the appetite for violent interest such as, priming aggressive thoughts to act it out

violently (Fallon, 2006, p. 347). This may include addictiveness such as, media violence, which

can be addicting. Also, it gratifies one’s social environment for example, children that are

exposed to excessive violent settings, but had instituted a belief system to violence (Fallon, 2006,

p. 341). Furthermore, this can also lead into other exposure to violent behavior such as, social,

domestic and community violence (Fallon, 2006, p. 341). Therefore, from childhood, if children

were heavily exposed to media violence, which may or may not include other violent factors,
Desensitization in Children 27

would stem the probability of developing brain damage at an earlier age. This could result into

psychopathic behavior during adolescents and early adulthood (Fallon, 2006; Huesmann et al.,

2003). In fact, excessive exposure to violence such as, media violence, socials violence and other

cultural violence can result to brain damage without early detection.

Physiological affects of media violence

Media violence has biosocial affect that imposes harm to society, especially children.

During childhood throughout adolescents and early adulthood (up to 21 years of age) the brain is

still within the developmental process (Jarrett, 2005). Therefore, any disruption during brain

development could result in biopsychosocial consequences, especially children, which impede

prosocial development (Chory-Assad, 2003; Jarrett, 2005; Murray, 2001).

Media violence affects the physiological characteristics of humanness such as, the heart,

the brain and the central nervous system (Jarrett, 2005; Murray, 2001). For instance, earlier study

revealed a sample of 71 participants that were adolescents (10-13 years of age) that while

playing violent video games they were scanned through an fMRI scanner (Jarrett, 2005). The test

revealed that while playing violent video games the frontal lobe of the brain, the anterior

cingulate cortex and the amaygdala were suppress, which controls the rational and emotional

responses that displays positive social interaction (Jarrett, 2005; Weber et al., 2006). Also,

dopamine, which is a biological chemical located within the central nervous system (CNS), a

function that governs rationale behavior was also suppressed (Jarrett, 2005). This area is
Desensitization in Children 28

necessary for positive responses of human behavior that can result to positive human

development (physiological), which is critical for prosocial development (Jarrett, 2005; Murray,

2001). As a result, children would display less empathy towards those within their social

environment, which can impede social and positive human development (Murray, 2001). Once

the amaygdala is suppressed the central nervous system cannot release the necessary dopamine

that is utilized for human reasoning, rationale and empathy, which can affect attitude and social

behavior. Instead, it becomes suppress that can result for children to display negative response,

which could lead into violent behavior that can affect educational and critical development

(Jarrett, 2005; Weber et al., 2006).

Newer theories recently expounded on desensitization theory.

According to Huesmann et al., (2003) mentioned that there are two theories, social

comparison theory and alternative theory that are expounded from the desensitization theory. .

Some researchers suggested that by expounding on desensitization theory by reclassifying

children suffering from different factors would better explain probable outcomes (Huesmann et

al., 2003).

These two theories are as follow:

1. Social Comparison Theory suggests that real-life aggressive behavior is correlated to

media violence aggressive behavior observed in the media. For instance, children playing
Desensitization in Children 29

excessive amounts of violent video games, but interact socially. Also, children programs

that display violent acts of aggression, those children would imitate; for example, sports,

professional wrestling, because these programs display violent acts, which dictates how

children should respond to real-life events (Huesmann et al., 2003). Similarity to the

scriptive theory, which suggest how children should react to similar real-life events. As a

result, it fails to foresee the consequential affects of social violent influences such as,

arrests and perhaps prosecution.

2. The Alternative Theory is based on children deriving from lower social economical status

(SES) within society, and children with low IQ (Huesmann et al., 2003). Also, it is

described as a third variable theory (expounding of the desentization theory), because it

represents a wide variety of environmental and economical factors that attributes to

violence. For instance, demographics, social economical deprivation and biopsychosocial

variables (Huesmann et al., 2003). ). Furthermore, biological attributes associating with

violence that affects social-interactions, also, psychological issues result from violence

that affects society biological and sociological characteristics (Huesmann et al., 2003).

Media violence having no evidence of having any causal affects stimulates aggression.

According to Grimes et al., (2004), mentioned, “There is no clinical psychological or

psychiatric research that shows that influences such as television causes psychologically well

people to become ill (p. 154). Quite the contrary, this statement is also not suggesting that media
Desensitization in Children 30

violence can impose harm on society, especially children, which can develop psychological

disturbances (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155). Psychological disturbances could only work, if it

concurs with other multiple variables that pre-existed, which would contribute any plausibility

that children could become affected by psychological disturbances (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155-


There are several different views that had persuaded some researchers that had study the

affects of media violence. For instance, some viewed media violence would only affect children

if long-term exposure, which can affect early adulthood. While other researchers believe that

there are no clinical pathological findings that would suggest children that are exposed to media

violence would have any long-term affects; including, even having short-term affects. However,

studies determined that children playing violent video games within a control environment might

live normal healthy lives (Grimes et al., 2004). On the contrary, children who are diagnosis with

disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) could become affected by media violence, because of their

predisposition to violence (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 157). Therefore, suggesting through laboratory

study, which explained that normal children would NOT have the same affect. However, would

have potential short-term affects, but within the home either parent or guardian should control

through discipline (Grimes et al., 2004).

Misrepresentations of earlier findings.

Desensitization in Children 31

A laboratory study revealed that children that suffer from disruptive behavior disorder

would be more affected to media violence than normal children (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155).

This was determined through careful evaluation between two variables that revealed reliability,

media violence, and children diagnosis with disruptive behavior disorder. Children with DBD

process certain social cues differently than normal children (Grimes et al., 2004p. 155). For

example, DBD children would display less arousal and physiological reactivity; such as,

decrease heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressures were normal. In addition, they reacted

with more angry facial expression, and acted out more aggressively than normal children

(Grimes et al., 2004, p. 158-159).

In fact, normal children would react differently for instance, expressing more emotional

distress, high systolic and diastolic blood pressure; also, having higher rate-rate (Grimes et al.,

2004, p. 159). Also, normal children would display lessor aggressive behavior than children

diagnosis with disruptive behavior disorder (Grimes et al., 2004). Grimes et al., (2004) had also

suggested that while children were viewing a horror film normal children displayed lessor

aggressive behavior, which conclude that children exposed to media violence, especially normal

children could not have any causal affect that would stimulate aggression in children (Grimes et

al., 2004, p. 159). Unless, children had either predisposition to violence, or may have other pre-

existing biopsychosocial condition that influences violent behavior (Grimes et al., 2004).

Therefore, children having the predisposition to violence are link to media violence, because

media violence may present the approval of social behavior (Green & Krcmar, 2005, p. 76).
Desensitization in Children 32

Disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) vs. normal children.

Children diagnoses with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional

defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder, are all categorize with children with disruptive

behavior disorder (DBD) (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155). According to Grimes et al., (2004),

mentioned, “Children with disruptive behavior disorder often manifest psychopathic symptoms

such as, less emotional concern for victims and the ability to tolerate greater level of violence

than children who do not have psychopathic symptoms” (p. 155). In other words, children that

are diagnosis with any type of psychopathic symptoms would display less empathy toward

society (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155). Therefore, through medical analysis such as,

psychoanalysis would determine whether or not children could be diagnosis with DBD. If,

children are diagnosis with such illness, and yet go on without proper treatment could become

intermingle with other children who are not diagnosis with disruptive behavior disorder (Weber

et al., 2006). Furthermore, earlier researcher had never tested whether or not if any of the

samples participate had these psychosocial issues, which could have provided a more accurate

result. Thereby, suggesting a probability that earlier findings that determine children, and-or

adolescent having any causal-affect that stimulated aggressive behavior, as a result to media

violence exposure can become questionable. This could perhaps question the accuracy of earlier


Children diagnosis with the predisposition to violent behavior.

Desensitization in Children 33

Children that suffer from DBD would respond to certain social cues much differently

than children that are normal (Grimes et al., 2003, p. 155). There is some evidence that suggest

that children that posit the genetic predisposition to violence would react differently too media

violence, and-or other violent factors contrast to their normal children. Children with the

predisposition to violence tend to relate within a violent setting (Grimes et al., 2003, p. 155).

Contrary to normal children that reside within a lower aggressive environment such as, lower

crime rate area, or areas that are non-reported (Grimes et al., 2003, p. 155).

Children diagnosis with disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) suffers from

psychopathological illnesses, because genetically their minds neurotransmitter to the amaygdala

perceives to react violently, rather than a non-violent response (Fallon, 2005). For instance,

within normal surrounding children that are not diagnosis with disruptive behavior disorder

would react with more control attitude and social behavior within their environment (Grimes et

al., 2004, p. 155-156). In other words, normal children tend to have a normal attention span

whereas, children with disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) have an inattention span therefore,

would react more aggressively, and perhaps violently (Grimes et al., 2004, p. 155). Children with

DBD have the predisposition to violent behavior, because of their physiological characteristics

such as, the brain that has the genetic predisposition to violence. In addition, children who are

socially inhibited within violent setting such as, subcultural violence, domestic violence would

perceive media violence as self-gratification, because it displays their social identity and social

environment (Green & Krcmar, 2005). Therefore, children deriving from other social violent
Desensitization in Children 34

setting such as, working and upper class societies could also have the predisposition to violence,

as well as inhibiting social violence through media violence (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Huesmann

et al., 2003. Media violence is also social violence that children can inhibit violent behavior

through excessive exposure (Huesmann et al., 2003), which can cause physiological damages

beginning within the orbital cortex that leads to the brain (Grimes et al., 2004) This is a result, of

children that are heavily expose to media violence such as, violent video games, violent movies

pictures, which displays violent graphics images portraying their social environment (Green &

Krcmar, 2005).


Desensitization is a result of children that are heavily exposed to media violence. Media

violence is a social role model that tends to influence societies attitude and social behavior,

especially children. Desentization has a two-sided approach; for example, systematic, which is

scientific process that treats children with different types of social illnesses; also, emotional and

cognitive approach, which has similarity. Emotional desentization is when children become

cognitive dissonance to media and social violence. In addition, showing less or no empathy

towards society, because of their cultural belief system towards violence that suggest destroying

other societies is a sociable accepted behavior.

This also centers on the ideology that supports hate groups, because these groups display

no empathy towards society that they despised.

Desensitization in Children 35

Cognitive desensitization is the thought process towards hatred against other societies.

The thought process that determines one’s attitude and social behavior for violence, because

similar to emotional desensitization believing that other cultural societies are destine for


This can result for children to become adaptable to a violent actor within society;

therefore, they would act out violently within their social interaction resulting to deviant, and-or

criminal behavior. This not only affects social behavior, but also most especially affects

biopsychosocial consequences, that can result to abnormal physical development, which has

serious consequential affects.

Media violence also affects children that are born with the predisposition to violent

behavior, because it can become a self-gratification, which is a reflection of one’s social

environment. This is also true for children who inhibit violent behavior. Therefore, media

violence which is a social role model does correlates with other biopsychosocial variable,

because it provides to society self gratification, which suggest that cultural violent behavior is an

acceptable practical behavior. It is obvious that media violence can be difficult to determine any

causal-affect, because of other biopsychosocial variables that already pre-existed that makes

media violence more of a contributor, but rather a reinforcement to influence aggressive and

violent behavior. Therefore, media violence stimulates aggression in children that can potentially

result to violent behavior, because it reinforces acts of violence.

Researcher that determine that media violence has no correlational affect that stimulates

aggression to children does present good argumentable assertion, because some earlier
Desensitization in Children 36

researchers never mentioned that any of their participants may be suffering from any type of

social illnesses that may relate to violence. Media violence would only stimulate aggression,

which can potentially enhance to violent and psychopathic behavior, especially children, because

their mind is within a developmental process.


Recommendation is for future researchers to examine two variables, media and social

violence within the home. This would determine if any correlational exist between these two

variables, which suggest a correlational affect not causal affect. In addition, less traditional

homes, and other economical variables that is more common than the traditional two-parent

home. This could help researchers examine if any correlational affect exist in relation to media


Most researchers determined that single parenting is more resilience to violence, in

contrast, to children reared within the two-parent home. Two parents home would provide to the

researcher a better opportunity to examine both parental backgrounds. This may or may not

include step or foster parenting, and adopted siblings.

Desensitization in Children 37

Anderson, C.A. & Dill, K.E. (2000). Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings,
and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life. A Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 78, 772-790.

Anderson, C.A. & Bushman, B.J. (2002). Human Aggression. A social on psychology,
53, 27-51.

Anderson, C.A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, R.L., Johnson, J.D., Linz, D.,
Malmuth, N.M., Wartella, E., (2003). The influence of Media Violence in Youth,
Psychological Science, 4 (3), 81-110.

Bandura, Albert (2001). Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic. Journal on Psychology

Annual Review, Vol. 52:1-26

Barkan, S.E. (2001). Criminology: A Sociological Understanding (2nd Ed.). Prentice-

Hall: Upper Saddle River, N.J.

Bartol, Curt R. (2002). Criminal Behavior-A Psychological Approach (6th Ed.).

Prentice-Hall; Upper Saddle River, NJ

Becker, A.B. (2004). Television, disorder eating, and young women in Fiji: Negotiating body
imageand identity during rapid social change. Culture, medicine and psychology, 28,

Borden, K.S. & Horowitz, I.A. (2002). Social Psychology (2nd Ed.). New Jersey:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Brady, S. (2005). Impact of Violence Exposure on Hostility, Physiological Arousal, and Health
in Youth (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2005). Dissertation Abstract
International, (UMI No. 3192932).

Brown, K. D. & Hamilton-Giachritsis, Catherine (2005). The influence of violent media

on children and adolescents: a public-health approach, 365, 702-711.

Cervone, D. (2005). Personality Architecture: Within-Person Structures and Processes.

Journal on Psychology, 56, 423-452.

Champion, H.L., Durant. R.H. (2001). Exposure to violence and victimization and the use of
violence by adolescents in the United States. Minerva Pediatrics, 53, 189-197.

Chory-Assad, R.M. (2004). Effects of television sitcom exposure on the accessibility of

Desensitization in Children 38

verbally aggressive thoughts. Western Journal of Communications. 68, 431-454.

Eiden, R.D. (1999). Exposure to violence and behavior problem during early childhood.
Journal of interpersonal violence, 14, 1299-1313.

Fellon, J.H. (2006). Neuroanatomical Background to Understanding the Brain of the Young
Psychopath. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 3, 341-367

Felon, R. B. (1996). Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior. Annual Review on

Sociology, 22, 103-184.

Funk, J.B., Baldacci, H.B., Paswold, T., Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violent exposure to real life,
videogames, television, movies and the internet: Is there desensitization? 27, 23-39

Greene, K. & Krcmar, M. (2005). Predicting Exposure to and Liking of Media Violence:
A uses and Gratification Approach. Communication Studies, 56, 71-93.

Huesmann, R.L., Moise-Titus, J., Podalski, C.L., Eron, L.D. (2003). Longitudinal
Relations between Children's Exposure to TV Violence and Their Aggressive and Violent
Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977-1992, 39(2), 201-221.

Jarrett, C. (2005, Summer). Neural effects of media violence. A British psychological Society,
18, 462-463.

Jipguep, M. C. & Phillip-Sanders, K. (2003). The context of violence for children of

Color: Violence in the community and in the media. A Journal of Negro
Education: Washington. 72, 379-396

Kronenberger, W.G, Mathews, V.P., Dunn, D.W., Wang, E.A., Lowe, M.J., Li, I.Q (2005).
Media Violence Exposure and Executive Functioning in Aggression and Control
Adolescents. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61 (6), 725-737.

Levin, D. E. & Carlsson-Paige, N. (2003). Marketing Violence: The special toll on young
Children of color. The Journal of Negro Education: Washington: 72, 427-428

Macionis, J. J. (2000). Society the Basis (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Publishing Co.

Murray, J.P. (2001). TV Violence and Brainmapping in children. A Journal in Psychology, 18


Vold, G. B., Bernard, T. J., Snipes, J. B. (2002). Theoretical Criminology (5th Ed) New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Desensitization in Children 39

Watson, W.W., Fischer, K.W., Andreas, J.B., Smith, K.W. (2001). Pathways to
aggression in children and adolescents. Harvard educational review, 74, 404-431.

Weber, R., Ritterfeld, U., Mathiak, K. (2006). Does playing violent video games induce
aggression? Empirical evidence of a functional magnetic resonance imaging
study. Media psychology, 8, 39-60.
Desensitization in Children