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Onscreen violence really is bad for us

Given the shootings in the USA this week, the main feature in this week's New Scientist is eerily apt. As summarised in their editorial, the research on the effect of TV / video game violence seems to be persuasive, that it has generally bad effects including aggression/desensitisation/etc.

While the report does concede that you can get useful skills from modern media (such as the dexterity and quick thinking which can be demonstrated to come from computer games), it makes the point quite clearly that the bad outweighs the good. I'm not sure what the picture would be like for people who see only "non-violent" media... I've never read any research papers on the subject so I can only be vague.

The strange prevalence of violence in films and computer games puzzles me quite a bit. I'm not one of those people that automatically tuts about violent media but it's weird how much violence there is. It must be what people want, but why? One answer might be "escapism", escaping from humdrum life into exciting scenarios, and maybe violence is one of the easiest ways to make things exciting. But there are loads of imaginitive ways to escape from the world... just look at some of the weird imaginitive stuff that the Japanese come up with. The Japanese come up with lots of really sick and violent stuff too of course ;) and maybe the grass looks a little greener on the other side, but our media's imaginitive range seems a bit stifled in comparison. Is poverty of imagination really anything to do with it? Or am I making it up?

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