For my thoughts on violence and sex, view the page titled, "Sex."
We all know about violence; mostly everyone has taken a hit or dished one out. If not, I guarantee everyone has at least seen someone else do it. But what are the effects of watching violence? Watch the following video, then contemplate how you feel after doing so.
Do you feel excited? Scared? Entertained? What if you knew that the popular cartoon show "Spongebob Squarepants" contained the same kinds of violence you just witnessed? It's hard to believe, but it's true. I watched 30 minutes of both Spongebob and wrestling. Though wrestling obviously won for quantity, Spongebob contained categories of violence that wrestling did not.
Wrestling was very straight-forward and up front about its violent nature. Two men duel it out in a ring. Simple enough. But Spongebob is well known as a comedy for children, so any violence it portrays can be seen as a bit unexpected. It achieved eight occurrences of "Other" violence, which included:
1.) A doctor using a needle to give someone stitches.
2.) A doctor performing CPR.
3.) Squidward covered in bandages...
4.) after just driving his gas tank through the Chum Bucket...
5.) and also through Krusty Krab's, before driving
6.) off a cliff into a fiery explosion.
7.) Before that, a fiery town mob chased him away with pitchforks
8.) while three eel "K-9" police animals ate the face off of one of the officers.
Seen in speedy version if you don't have fifteen minutes to spare:
Arguably, these instances of "Other" violence are much worse than punching, kicking, or even body slamming. I would rather my nephew become influenced by wrestling and get into a fist fight at school than become influenced by Squidward, steal my car and drive it off a cliff. In other words, if he's going to follow modeling theory--copying the characters in the TV shows he loves--I would rather him copy someone that has the same limitations he does. According to cultivation theory, if my nephew watches an excessive amount of Spongebob, he would come to believe an unreality about violence--that it has very little physical effects, with the characters always fully healed by the next episode. Wrestling, though many argue it's fake, shows the physical effects of such violence--with the wrestlers many times laying down and holding their faces in agony. In my opinion, a child who watches wrestling will probably be influenced and inhibited by reinforcement theory--that is, they will be turned off to commit violence because of the negative reinforcement associated with it. But, a child who watches Spongebob will probably model the behavior, arguing that it doesn't harm the characters on TV, so how could it harm him?
Adolescents--who have common sense enough to know the effects of violence in reality regardless of television influence--would follow different theories. Consider the following:
"Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts...Media violence produces short-term increases by priming existing aggressive scripts and cognitions, increasing physiological arousal, and triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors. Media violence produces long-term effects via several types of learning processes leading to the acquisition of lasting (and automatically accessible) aggressive scripts, interpretational schemas, and aggression-supporting beliefs about social behavior, and by reducing individuals' normal negative emotional responses to violence (i.e., desensitization)." (Source)
I personally agree. I think wrestling would cause desensitization and disinhibition to occur, making the teen less likely to be affected by real violence and more likely to commit violence himself.