Entertainment not only factor in increasing teen violence

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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This editorial is a compilation from a discussion held by The Mentor editorial board. 

As humans, our brains are susceptible to everything around us, from words spoken in the hallways to the media we take in on a daily basis. In the 21st century, it is widely acknowledged that entertainment media and pop culture influence our lives. It is not uncommon for this acknowledgement of entertainment’s influence to become a scapegoat for the lack of discipline seen in the teenagers of today. While this is an idea with some truth behind it, it is an idea that has misguided points that dilute the reality of a larger situation.

One of the most commonly vocalized “offenders” of entertainment influence of teenagers is video games. By searching the words “video games,” teen” and “violent,” one can retrieve pages among pages of articles all claiming that video games cause violence and negative behaviors in teens due to their influence on the brain.

However, what people need to realize is that there are most likely other factors besides just video games affecting gamers’ psychological health. First, age and maturity can determine how thinking is altered. For children with a still developing brain, it is very easy to adapt to a moral compass that is much like that of characters in games because at the point in life, we don’t know any better. Gamers who are older and have matured more are less susceptible to that influence due to exposure to proper morals; those who are negatively influenced are done so in very specific cases such as pre-existing psychological health problems.

Other aspects of entertainment such as television, movies, etc. are also thrown into the mix. The problem often found with these forms of entertainment is an addiction to fictional worlds and people. It isn’t uncommon for one to find themselves unknowingly, or in some cases knowingly, imitating a certain aspect or characters of these fictional worlds.

Not only is fictional entertainment an issue, but celebrities who are in the limelight often become idolized by basically anyone with access to any form of media. Celebrities are known for doing both good and bad, typically with the bad being the bigger focus. And when these celebrities get off the hook because of their fame, it does not escape the notice of those watching.

That being said, we often set these celebrities and fictional worlds as examples of what our own actions should be, so when fame lacks discipline, we absorb and even sometimes immulate that. But, often our actions are influenced the most by the behaviors of people and events around and close to us, not just the big-shots.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that, while there is no possible way to say entertainment doesn’t affect us, the truth of the situation is that the events and people closer to home influence us more than any game, TV show, or famous person will.

Teenagers are complicated beings, at least we are more complicated than a videogame. We have been raised in the age of terrorism, gun-violence, cyber-bullying, etc, all things that have a much greater impact on our lives than the simplicity of “Call of Duty” and the Kardashians.  

Entertainment has become a major part of society, it has been since the first books became available to those beyond noble status; today’s teenagrers aren’t the first to be affected by its influence. The key is to learn boundaries and discipline with entertainment.

We need to be more careful as to how we filter content to specific age groups, more careful in maintaining the mentality that these games and shows are not reality. Moral teachings and discipline need to come from guardians of youth, not left to outside forces that will later be blamed if not done properly.

The problems that the current generation of children and teenagers face is not simply entertainment’s, it’s society’s as well. Don’t scapegoat something because it’s there, look at the other factors and reasons behind the issue.

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