The major concern of the article
The article under consideration entitled “Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: Is there desensitization?” investigates the links between the violent content of TV programs, video games and the increase of the aggressive behavior in adolescents. The purpose of this research was to analyze the relationships between the violence exposure in real life, various media sources and games.
It should be noted that desensitization and lower empathy as the results of the violence exposure in media and games have been studied for decades. Nevid (2008) admitted that violent or aggressive behavior in real life can be attributed to TV viewing, while “playing violent videogames is also linked to increased aggressive behavior in young people” (p. 362). Though the research problem is not unique and was explored previously, Funk et al (2004) implemented a new approach in their study.
Investigating the impact of exposure in games and media sources separately and pointing at the differences in these relationships was a valuable contribution of this research. The assumption that the exposure to video games violence is linked to lower empathy, while both video games and media exposure cause stronger proviolence attitudes is rather interesting and fresh and can be regarded as the main strong point of this article.
Strengths of the study
It is important that Funk et al (2004) pointed out the differences in the impact of various media sources on the consciousness, attitudes and behavioral patterns in adolescents. The hypothesis of this paper is that exposure to video games violence has the strongest relationship with the decreased empathy and desensitization.
This assumption is explained with the peculiarities of this media source, namely its creative and active nature which requires intense engagement of the players and can be translated into fantasies and behavioral models.
In contrast to Ohman et al (2001) who investigated the well-researched issues of the relationships between the fear-related stimuli and the cognitive abilities and did not make any significant contribution to the existing theoretical data, Funk et al (2004) managed to find the gap in knowledge and selected a new perspective for viewing the issue.
The differentiation between the influence of various media sources upon the attitudes and behavioral patterns in adolescents can be regarded as the main strong point of the study under consideration.
Limitations of the research design
Though the researchers provide substantial theoretical basis for supporting the assumption of different impact caused by different media sources, Funk et al (2004) recognize that their research has certain limitations. Thus, the sample of 150 elementary school students included 82 boys and 68 girls. It should be noted that there is a relationship between gender and game preferences, for instance. Thus, the prevalence of male participants could have impact upon the findings of this study.
Funk et al (2004) noted that “the sample is somewhat better educated and likely to be of somewhat higher socioeconomic status than the general population” (p. 29). The socioeconomic and cultural characteristics also influence the behavioral patterns, and these peculiarities need to be taken into consideration for evaluating the results of the experiment (Ryan 2011).
Though the article under consideration explores the well-researched problem, the scholars managed to detect the gap in prior studies and selected a new approach for investigating the relationship between the violence exposure in real life and media sources. Regardless of certain limitations of the research design, it can be concluded that a new perspective contributed to the existing knowledge.
Funk, J., Baldacci, H., Pasold, T., and Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: Is there desensitization? Journal of Adolescence, 27: 23- 39.
Nevid, J.S. (2008). Psychology: Concepts and Applications. Belmont, CA: CENGAGE Learning.
Ohman, A., Flykt, A., & Esteves, F. (2001). Emotion drives attention: Detecting the snake in the grass. Journal of Experimental Psychology / General, 130(3): 466.
Ryan, M. (Ed.). (2011). Psychsmart. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.