Mass media plays an important role in shaping youth culture. As we all know, the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, magazines and other forms of mass media have been integrated into the lives of youths today. The Internet provides a powerful platform for the youths to learn more about what is happening around the world. However, the mass amount of information that it distributes may be both positive and negative to the youths. Not too long ago, ‘Teen who stared at group slashed to death’ (The Star/Asia News, November 02, 2010, p.1) made its way to the headlines which threw Singapore’s public security into jeopardy. The display of physical aggression is what causes moral decay in youths nowadays. Domestic violence and peer pressure are the key factors in influencing the youths to display signs of physical aggression while the Internet only plays a minor part. In this essay, I further expound on how the Internet, domestic violence and peer pressure can lead to physical aggression among youths today.
Internet has widened the youth’s channels of absorbing information and knowledge, but it includes decadent information which may eventually spread violence among youths. Website such as YouTube, a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos, allows youth to come into contact with videos containing violent acts easily. (Hopkins, J. 2006.) Online video games also play a significant role in influencing the youths to develop violent behavior. For example, Counter-Strike, one of the so-called killers games where the gamer plays through the eyes of a heavily armed character and kills as many enemies as possible. The display of violence in the game such as using a knife to stab the head of an enemy can be imitated by youths to kill relentlessly. The outburst of sources containing violence from various means has intensified the juvenile crime situation, causing variations in crime types, methods and results. In the 1980s, juvenile crime generally involves theft and fights. In the 2000s, juvenile crime progressed on to banded robbery, major theft even disengaged murder, armed robbery, arson etc. (Georgia, 1992.) The research shows that serious criminal offences have been markedly worsen. However, the fault does not lie with the Internet, just like water can float a boat, so can it swallow the ship. The excessive amount of information involving violence distributed by the Internet plays only a minor role in guiding the youths to develop violent behavior. However, domestic violence and peer pressure plays a huge part.
First of all, parents are their children’s first teacher, which is why what we are just like a mirror reflection of our parents. As the saying goes, “Monkey see, monkey do”. If a parent is violent, it would not be surprising if his or her child takes after his violent nature. Therefore, domestic violence is undoubtedly the number one factor which causes youths to develop violent behavior. The domestic violence mainly refers to physical abuse. Each year, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence from their mothers, babysitters or by family members. (American Psychological Association, 1996.) Youths are highly vulnerable to fear, anxiety and pessimism if they have been witnessing family abuse or even experiencing physical abuse from their parents since they were young. Children may suffer from self-abasement or even get isolated from his peers and affect their academic results and daily life. If the situation becomes severe, there will be at a greater risk of runaway youths or youths committing criminal acts. Youths will get the wrong message that it iss okay to abuse other people or let others hurt them. Research done by Browne and Angela (1987) shows that a third of all children who see their mothers being physically abused develop emotional problems, and that boys who see their fathers physically abuse their mothers are ten times more likely to be abusive in their future marriages. ‘Boys who witness family violence are more likely to batter their female partners as adults, and girls who witness their mother’s abuse have a higher rate of being battered as adults. These common sense observations are facts, not myths.’ (Ewing & Charles Patrick, 1987) It is undeniable that domestic violence is the major factor which has caused the youths to develop violent behavior.
Another one of the major factors that lead to teenage violence behavior will be peer pressure. ‘Peer pressure may be especially strong during adolescence.’ (Kate Havelin, 2000) Teenagers at this stage are easily influenced by their peers. For example, you may decide to buy a same brand of bag that your friends have. Such behavior does not seem to exude anything, but it is a sign of getting on the bandwagon. For example, one of your friends might persuade you to join his gang after you have been bullied by someone else and that, only by being in a gang, can you take revenge. Matt Monteverde (2008) stated that youths cannot resist the temptation of peer pressure. Many youths who experienced physical abuse from their peers often worry that they may get into hot soup if they inform the teacher or parents about the abuse. We should deal with violence among youths thoroughly, or else a wrong message will be spread across to youths that ‘Violence can be accepted’. Peer pressure can cause the victim to gradually believe that ‘I should be the victim of violence’ and submit to humiliation. Eventually, peer pressure would worsen the situation of violence among the youths and severity of upgrades.
The Internet, domestic violence and peer pressure have indeed formed a vicious circle that reinforces itself through a feedback loop. Firstly, the Internet has gradually becoming a huge platform for the young victims of domestic violence to spread and share their resentment with others. As mentioned before, that youths can easily upload, share, and view videos involving violence on website such as YouTube or Facebook. Children who view media violence are said to be more likely to have increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence and injury that lead to violent behavior. The Academy of Pediatrics says “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.” (Aimee.T, 2003) If youths start to think that this kind of violence is acceptable, then these thoughts are often difficult to change in rest of their life. Then eventually can lead to domestic violence in the future. In turn, youths who experience domestic violence will use violence on their peers through imitation. Many victims were been forced to remain silent for the pain that they endured. Therefore the only simple way for them to voice out their anguish is again, through social net working sites such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Lastly, the three factors will form a vicious circle and resulting in more youths been influenced to develop violent behaviour.
Eventually, why domestic violence and peer pressure are the major cause of developing violence among youths is because what they bring to the youths is only the negative impacts. The effect of domestic violence is absolutely negative towards youths. For peer pressure, although it affects youths to develop negative behaviors, the competition among the peers can be a kind of motivation power sometimes. Finally, what the Internet can benefits us are more than enough to cover the blemish it has left on developing violence among youths. For example, Dawn Smith stated (2010) ‘Internet games can help children focus. Youths who have Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, can actually sit for longer periods of time to play some of their favorite games. Not only does this help them keep focus, it also teaches them patience.’ In fact, the Internet has plays an important role in preventing and educating people about domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence of USA has held an conference in last year regarding the issue about: “using online technology to advance the movement to end domestic violence.” Their main goal was to let the public get to know more about domestic violence around them and learn how to stop the extension of such cases through social net working sites. By using the power of social net working sites, it became extremely easy to share and spread information to help the victims worldwide.
In conclusion, the Internet plays an important role in shaping youth culture but it is not the main cause of violence among youths. This is because domestic violence and peer pressure contribute much more negative impacts that influencing the youths to develop violent behavior compare to the Internet. Therefore, I conclude that the Internet is not the main cause of developing violence among youths.