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Media Violence and its Effect on Youths


Background of the Study

Over the years, researchers have examined the effects of before and after the introduction of media to the community. The constant question which crops up on the effects of media is, will the exposure of youth to media violence cause increased levels of aggression and violent behavior. According to Huesmann (2001), he said that the young adults may behave aggressively if they are exposed to media violence since young. Ones characteristics can be formed when they are young due to the exposure of media such as television, can determine what kind of a person he/ she will grow up to be.

Media violence is reputably hard to explain and define. Violence is the act of a threat in harming and hurting where it could end up with life being sacrificed. The exposure towards media violence may arouse the aggressiveness in the behavior of a person. The connection between media violence and aggressiveness is interrelated because whenever there is aggressiveness it can somehow be linked to media violence. How media violence affect youth nowadays is indeed very important in order to have a clearer view of the society because if this matter is not taking seriously eventually violence in youth might contributes to a major portion of the increasing crime rates. Thus, the media indeed plays an important and major role in developing of morals and values of youth.

Numerous shooting cases have taken place in schools, colleges and universities all around the world for the past few years. Many innocent lives have been taken due to the aggressiveness in youths. A youth who grew up surrounded by violence may have the tendencies of getting themselves involved in crime and violence at a higher rate compared than those who were not exposed to the media (Huston and Wright, 1997). There are many things around the world will influence a youth’s behavior, but in this research we will only be focusing on entertainment that is media such as television, wrestling and video games.

The reason for researching on this topic is due to the fact that youth nowadays tend to develop characteristics by imitating behaviors from the media. One of the main influences of mass media would be media violence, where the printing and writing of the mass media won’t have a big impact, because it is only visual compared to the media which has audio and visual effects at the same time. In many cases, youths tend to develop a violent behavior through media, and violence among youths is growing exponentially. Therefore, this study will focus on the university students’ perceptions towards media violence and its effects on youth in Malaysia. The specifications of media violence in this study are television, video games, internet games, music videos and music lyrics.

Problem Statement

This research is trying to find out what is the university students’ perception towards media violence on youths in Malaysia is because the media has the capability of affecting youths in their development of individual characteristics. The uncontrolled media violence incidents could be the birth of a more violent community and society in the future. Besides that, people may confuse reality by observing violence on media and develop unrealistic fears.

It is an undeniable fact that entertainment media plays an important role for the future generations. Take the television for example; it has grown from a black and white small image set to full high definition wide screen. Today, it is a constant companion to most youths. Its influential properties are indeed undeniable, and the effect of media violence on youths is consistent. With parents working most of the time, youths are left alone depending on media as the sole source of entertainment, this of course leads to the youths tending to believe that all the behaviors and results are real and logical.

University students can be categorized as youths where youths are generally visual learners because students at the university level is able to visualize the information given whether is it true or not rather than just trust whatever the information given. Visual learners think in pictures rather than in words. At this stage, they learn better visually, and usually would see the big picture first before learning the minor details. Most media nowadays depends a lot on visual effects; this includes media violence as well. The false admiration of heroes or heroines will cause youths to imitate the actions and behaviors from the entertainment source, and apply it in the real world. Youths will draw a quick conclusion and perceive that aggression could solve problems in life directly and generate rewards easily.

Definition of the Term

Mass media is any medium used to convey mass communication, and the mass media sources, which includes books, newspapers, magazines, radio, movies, television, and internet. It is a fact that mass media has grown by leaps and bounds, and the importance of it has also grown significantly throughout the years. Therefore, the influences in today’s society are an unquestionable fact. One of the main influences of mass media would be media violence.

Media violence is the visual portrayal of acts of aggression, and the action could be portrayed by anyone or anything, from human beings to animals. In many cases, the highly influenced group would mainly be youths. Such aggression behaviors include damages to properties, verbal abuse, emotional or physical abuse. In an important study carried out in Canada, children were found to have become significantly more aggressive two years after television was introduced to their town for the first time (Kimball and Zabrack, 1986).

Children who prefer violent television shows when they are young have been found to be more aggressive later on, and this may be associated with trouble with the law in adulthood (Huesmann, 1986). The increase of violence among youths would reflect the growing numbers in violence among adults as well. This would lead to a crisis in society where violence would wander freely.

University students are the future leaders, where the practice of media violence is normal to them could lead the world to an unhealthy trend by using aggressiveness to settle problems instead of using a peaceful way such as negotiation and meetings. Many wars could be waged and innocent citizens could be the victims of the violent world. The foundation behavior of a person is important because how a person grows up really depends a lot from the condition a person being raised up.

Purpose of Research

The purpose of this research is to find out what are the university students’ perceptions towards the media violence effects on youth in Malaysia. The research purpose is to analyze media violence on youths in contributing to a negative impact on society. This research also includes about how university students’ perception about the seriousness of the media violence affecting the younger generation compare to the older generation in this century.

Research Questions

There are three research questions which will be conducted in this research, they are:

  1. What are the university students’ perceptions towards the media violence effect on youth?
  2. Does the media violence affect their lives?
  3. What are the impacts of media violence on youths?

Theoretical Framework (Social Learning Theory)

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” (Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977)

The social learning theory is considered the most influential theory of learning and development which was proposed by Albert Bandura (1977). In many of the basic concepts of traditional learning theory, Bandura believed that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning concepts such as observational learning, imitation, and identification.

The theory are as follows, people learn by observing the behaviour of others and outcomes of it. Imitation is another direct mechanical reproduction of behaviour and learning can occur without a change in behaviour. Behaviourists say that learning has to be represented by a permanent change in behaviour. Social learning theorists say that because people can learn through observation alone, not necessarily to be shown in their performance. People can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people. Known as observational learning (or modeling), this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviors. The observational learning and modeling process involved are attention, retention, reproduction, motivation.

Literature Review

The importance of Media

In the society nowadays, the media has become an essential need that everyone must have such as food and clothes where is it indeed true that media is playing an important role to play. With advance improvement in the field of science and technology today, the media has become a crucial part in our modern society. Media is a social device in our communication lives. The media can be obtained in everywhere such as newspaper, television, radio, films and internet. The society exposed to media everyday. In fact we seek knowledge through media (Tan, 2009). According to Devrani (2008), the duty of the media is to inform, entertain and also to educate the people in the society. Despite of that, the media help everyone to know what is going on in the world from time to time. Media shape lives and the society’s lives will not be complete without media (Devrani, 2008).

The media’s impact is through psychological and intellectual where the media shape public opinion and help frame the society. The media’s information is what we read, listen to and watch (Angel, 2008). According to Adedamola (2009), he explained that the media had always played the leading role in the way we think and do things, he also point out that the idea of perception is the central role of the media. Besides that, media also affects a person’s perspectives not only through television but at the same time through radio, newspaper and the internet (Devrani, 2008). A person cannot rely completely with the media because a person has to filter and critically analyze the situation before judging on something. It is also important to know that the media is able to influence our thinking and minds. With this is also explaining the reason why the media is so powerful to manipulate one person’s mind (Tan, 2009). In parallel, the media influence the people on making the decision, the products to buy, questions to ask and choices to make in the daily life (Angel, 2008). It is often use by the leaders to make full usage of the media to influence people and by controlling the media means controlling the flow of the communication among the society.

Media Violence

It seems like that the violence among children is growing rapidly in our society today. It happen almost every parts of the world but the question still remains a mystery. How do children develop to be so violent? Is violence genetically programmed in them even before they are born? It is possible to ever change their attitude again? In many cases, researchers found that nowadays, the entertainment media plays a powerful role in the formation of values and morals in children. “For a variety of reasons, it is now time for a new assessment of what is known scienti?cally about how media violence affects young people and what can be done to mitigate these adverse effects”. (C. A. Anderson et al, 2003).

In the past few years, there has been an onset of school shootings, and many teenagers had been sacrificed. One of the examples is the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, which killed 13 people and wounded 23 others. The incident was committed by two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, which involved imitation of characters of video games. They both committed suicide after the tragedy. In other case, Cho Seung-Hui has been identified as the gunman responsible for the two Virginia Tech attacks that claimed 33 lives to become the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history in April 16, 2007. Cho’s inability to handle stress and the “frightening prospect” of being “turned out into the world of work, finances, responsibilities, and a family,” Cho chose to engage in a fantasy where “he would be remembered as the savior of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, and the rejected.” The panel went further, stating that, “His thought processes were so distorted that he began arguing to himself that his evil plan was actually doing good. His destructive fantasy was now becoming an obsession (The Virginia Tech review panel, 2007). Media violence contributes in making the student to have such evil plan mentality with a heavy heart that this world is so terrible to live anymore.

In many situations, it seems that minority groups are usually targeted. The teenagers who kill seem to feel that they are being shunned and made fun of by their fellow classmates. The feeling would soon developed into hatred and revenge, thus sparkle off any undesirable incidents. Some of these tragedies have led to the killers killing themselves at the end in search of peace of mind. “Violence (homicide, suicide, and trauma) is a leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults, more prevalent than disease, cancer or congenital disorders” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). It is possible for those who are naturally aggressive to be the most affected by the media violent while the most vulnerable at the risk of increasing in aggressiveness (Gentile, 2004). Family history and background does contribute to the violence because when the children grow up in the aggressive family tends to behave more aggressive.


Watching television is also one of the main factors contributing to the media violence on youth. “By the time a child is eighteen years old, he or she will witness on television (with average viewing time) 200,000 acts of violence including 40,000 murders” (Huston, et al, 1992). Williams (1970) have studied both before and after the television was introduced in a rural village in British Columbia where after two years the introduction of television, the violent incidents had increased by 160 percent. In?uences that promote aggressive behavior in young children can contribute to increasingly aggressive and ultimately violent behavior many years later.

Therefore, it is important to recognize factors including media violence that, separately and together, may play a role in these outcomes in childhood (Huesmann & Moise, 1998; Tremblay, 2000). In 2001, the Surgeon General’s conclude on youth violence that the media violence rises up youth’s physically and verbally aggressive behaviour in the short term rather than violent behaviour. According to the National Commission in 1969, television violence encourages violent forms of behavior that they do not propose that television is a primary cause of violence in society but they do propose that it is a causative factor. In 1993, American Psychological Association stated that there is totally no doubt that often watch violence on television are interconnected with increased of aggressive attitudes and increased aggressive behaviour.

Other than that, in 1972, the Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior has set a television research impact on children. They have come out with the result that the evidence supports, a beginning and uncertain indication of a causal relation between viewing violence on television and aggressive behavior for some children who are prone to be aggressive. In July 2000, the, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians stated with a joint statement that over 1,000 studies point overpoweringly to make a connection in some children between media violence and aggressive behaviour.

Video Games and Internet Games

Most video games and internet online games nowadays would consist of violence or sexually elements and characteristics on the games to increase sales and popularity. Most of the youths seem to be indulged in the video gaming world until they apply the gaming world into the real life situation. “Violent video games can cause people to have more aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and lessen sympathetic, helpful behaviours with peers”. (Anderson, 2004; Gentile, 2003). In video game industry, particularly violence in general and sexual violence, the current trend is for gamers to be the bad guys. It creates acting out criminal fantasies in order to earn points for attacking and killing innocent passerby in the game. Even though these games are targeted for mature audiences but it is common and popular to be played by the teenagers.

In the recent research about the video gamers by Anderson and Bushman (2001) shows that although the youth who only play the video games just few hours daily would also behave aggressively in the real world. By just playing the video games it can affect the youth negatively. This is a serious fact that cannot be ignored. According to Funk, Flores, Buchman, & Germann (1999), the ratings provided by the video-game industry do not match with those provided by other adults and game-playing youngsters. The youngster and the adults totally disagree with the industry that has classified the cartoonlike character in many games as appropriates for general audiences.

A study by Anderson & et al. (2001), about a 14-year-old boy arguing that he has even killed somebody even though he has been playing video games for many years is indeed correct. Example for the 45-year-old two packets a day cigarette smoker also argues that he still does not have lung cancer. According to Anderson & et al., both of them are wrong because their exposure to their respective risk factors of media violence and cigarettes has not unintentionally increased the likelihood of the people around them in future that one day suffers the consequences. Anderson and Dill (2000) also stated that violent video games may be more harmful than violent television and movies because they are interactive, very interesting and require the player to classify with the attacker. Anderson (2000) says, “One major concern is the active nature of the learning environment of the video game”. “The exposures of the video games are potentially more dangerous than the exposure to television violence to have significant effects on aggression and violence”. (Anderson and Dill, 2000). In other meaning, playing video games may bring more significant violence effects on youths as they have the opportunities to be in the character and do the task in the games.

Music Videos and Music Lyrics

According to Waite, Hillbrand, and Foster (1992) says after the removal of Music Television (MTV) show a significant decrease of aggressive behavoiur on a forensic impatient ward. In 2003, Gentile, Linder, & Walsh conducted a study on the fifth grade children where the children who watch MTV regularly reported to be involved into more physical fights compare to the children who do not watch MTV regularly. The regular MTV watcher also rated by their teachers is radically more aggressive and less prosocial. Music videos are also concern because these videos are sometimes stuffed with violence. The assumption of attitudes, behaviour and values portrayed in lyrics of the music that influence the young listeners on how to think and react received the most criticism from the public. (Carey, 1969; Christenson & Roberts, 1998; Fedler, Hall, & Tanzi, 1982; Roberts, Henriksen, & Christenson, 1999). The songs and lyrics in the older days is totally different from now and the fact of the youths mindset also have change according to the pace of the society.

Other the other hand, a group of mice were trained to run mazes in a high school science-fair experiments in where the group of mice were to put to listen to classical music, hard rock or no music. According to the student who perform the study says that the classical mice became faster in running the maze, whereas the hard rock mice became slower because the hard rock mice is killing each other while none of the classical mice did that (Eaton, 1997; Health, Wealth, & Happiness, n.d.). Other than that, according to Rubin, West, and Mitchell (2001) stated that the college students who prefer heavy metal, rap or hip hop music are more aggressive than other students who prefer music such as country and pop where this bring a connection between the types of music youth listen and a broad range of troublesome attitudes and behaviours.

The effects of media violence on youths

Youths that often expose to the media violence tend not only behave aggressively but are more prone to have attitudes that support violence and aggression as a way of solving conflicts because the youths dun trust people around them and they view the world as a aggressive place. According to New Scientist ( 2007), by the time the average U.S. child starts elementary school he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,00 acts of violence on TV. Besides that, Cyber (2006) says that after 15 years the researchers followed 329 subjects, they found that those who as children were exposed to violent TV shows were much more likely to later be convicted of crime. Researchers also state that, any children from any family regardless of social class or parenting can be affected by media violence. There is no word of escaping in the exposure of media violence because it is widely spread among the society and communities with the world.

Girls who watched and expose more than an average amount of violence tended to throw things at their future husbands. In parallel, boys who grew up watching violent TV shows were more likely to be violent with their future wives (Cyber, 2006). Every violent TV show increases a little-bit the chances of a child growing up to behave more aggressively in their life. In the same way after many years looking for accumulated data, the society is now recognizing a relationship between violence in the media and social problems. According to Barry (2002), the one of her study result shows that tracked 700 male and female youths over a seventeen-year period showed a definite relationship between TV viewing habits and acts of aggression and crime in the later life. Barry (2006) also states that the findings of this study help strengthen the link between TV, violence and youths. This shows a relevant result in between the violence is connected with the youths from watching television.

Perception of University Students’ Towards Media Violence and its Effect on Youths

Murray (2002) says that media violence is one of the factors in contributing to forming of aggressive and antisocial behavoiur when a young boy becomes a young man. In a study Anderson, Carnagey, and Eubanks (2003) has reported that among 500 university students that violent music and lyrics increased the students’ aggressive thoughts, behaviours and hostile feelings. There are now good conclusion and practical reasons to expect perception and effects of media violence among the university students. According to Mortimer, 2005 (as cited in Caez, E, 2006) the students thinks that they may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, they may become more fearful of the world around them, and they may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways towards others.

According to Cantor and Harrison (1999), they found out that 138 university students have perceive frightening memories of media images still continued to disturb them after many years. Cantor and Harrison (1999) also states that over 90 percent of the university students have trouble to sleep and phobia in certain situations continued suffer due to the scary experience from images they viewed as a child. In a survey conducted by Gossellin, Guise and Paquette (1977) found out that among 360 university students perceive that the heavy television viewers are more likely to think and mostly believe that the world is a dangerous place and the viewers are not particularly scare of it. This shows that the students were not bothered by the violence around them and do not see there is anything wrong with the violence (Mortimer, 2005, as cited in Caez, E, 2006). In Mortimer, 2001(as cited in Caez, E, 2006) another research also found that the students who are fear of being a victim of violence would prefer to carry a weapon with them and has the mentality of behaving aggressively and plan to hurt the people before the people get hurt them. This shows that the universities students have the perception of protecting themselves is important rather than just sit there and wait for protection.

Youths Media Violence in Malaysia

There have been many reports of youth involved in the rapes, sex crimes, and extortion including stabbing of school childrens. In Malaysia, police statistics on these crimes indicate that they are on the rise (Loh, 2004). This media report arise the sense of panic, curious and anxiety among the citizens. The violence convicted by the youth in Malaysia becomes more serious nowadays. There are eight juveniles are charged in killing a 16 years old student in Seremban (Loh, 2004). In another case reported in The Star in 2004, a mother and her daughter were reportedly raped by two youths who had escaped from a nearby reform school in Jerantut.

According to The Star (2010), mention that there is this article back in the year 2002, a 12 years old boy was charged for murdering his tuition teacher’s 11 years old daughter by hitting her with a hard object. As 12 years old boy, he might not even realize that his action can kill a girl. Other than that, The Star (2009) report that a 17 years old youth was charged in the Juvenile Court by intentionally hitting and attacking a policeman and two Rela officers. Besides that, there is also a 20 years old youth ran amok and stab his father to death while his elder brother with serious injuries in an article in The Star (2010).

The Star (2007) review that the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, it is very important for the youth and youngsters to know how to say no to violence at the National Youth Week. The media also hold an important role to play in investigating and reporting on media violence on youth. Moreover, the media is responsible to decrease the causes of crime but not contributing in increasing the media violence in Malaysia.



Methodology can be explained as an appropriate method use to examine a field of study when conducting a research. Besides that, methodology also ensures that findings are relevant with the research questions in order to have discussion over the results before making a conclusion about the research. In this research, theoretical frameworks will be formed and tested, where as the quantitative research in primary research methods are planned. From there the methodology covers the research approach and preliminary layout of study that consists of the theoretical/conceptual framework, research questions, questionnaire design, statistic methods, analysis and finally with a conclusion.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is a category of research tools used when precise results are needed. The results are expressed in numbers or statistics form. There are two research form of quantitative which are survey questionnaire and content analysis. For this study, the survey questionnaire is designed to collect primary data. This method was chosen because survey questionnaire is more appropriate to be use in this research to find out the university students’ perception towards media violence and its effect on youths in Malaysia. Furthermore, this survey questioannaire method is not expensive, consuming less time, easy to collect data entry and the questionnaire can be design according to the research questions that at the same time suit to the target respondents’ mentality. The questionnaire will be printed out and send out to the target respondents for this study.

Questionnaire Design

The questionnaire is design according to the three research questions of this study. Each and every of the questions in the questionnaire must be able to relate back to the research questions which is about the perception of university students’ towards media violence and its effect on youths in Malaysia. It is important to know how the university students’ perceive this situation. Hence, this questionnaire is design to study the opinions, perceptions and experience of them on media violence.

Structure of the questionnaire

There will be four sections in this questionnaire where the section A consist of the target respondents demographics such as the gender, age, marital status and educational level while section B questions are on the university students’ perceptions, section C is about the media violence effects and the last section D emphasize on the impact of media violence on youths.

Sampling Size

The sample size of this research is 100 targeted to university students in Selangor state in Malaysia because there are quite a number of university in this area. All respondents are required to be honest with the answer and respond during the questionnaire is conduct to avoid inaccuracy of data collected.

Methodological Limitation

In this research study, there were few limitations in conducting this questionnaire survey. Limited time in conducting this survey has leads to the inaccurate of data collection. The small sample size due to time constraint has become one of the obstacles encountered because it is not representing the overall university students in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. In total, 100 questionnaires were distributed, a sum of 99 filled-out with valid responses was returned. Therefore, the effective response rate is 99%. Besides that, existing theories by the western researchers, might not be suitable apply into the Asian context.

Findings and Analysis


In this chapter, data collected from questionnaire are being converted into useful information to be interpreted. Findings and analyses are run to addressed the research objectives and answer the research questions. The intention of this chapter is to present the results of the questionnaire, as well as to offer interpretation of the findings and analysis related to the research questions. The findings is divided into three sections. Section A will be an overview of respondents’ profile. Section B reports the findings and analysis of the University students’ perception towards the effetcs of media violence on youths while the Section C report about the media violence affects on daily life among the respondents. Section D will be the impact of media violence on youths. The last part of this chapter is about analysis of the findings and comparison of the literature review with the data collected.

Section A: Overview of Repondents’ Profile

In total 100 copies of questionnaire has been distributed, total number of collection is 99 copies. This makes the response rate up to 99% of the solid respond from the respondents.

There were total 99 were return, 53.5% of the respondents were male and 46.5% were female. With the total of 78 returned, 53.85% of the respondents were male and 46.15% were female. The result of the age population finding

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