Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marketing Violence

Curious why children might become violent?
The media, whose influence can exceed that of parents, was the subject of an FTC study a few years ago.  The results are not comforting.  The report made the following key findings about the marketing of violent entertainment material by industry:
Movies: Of the 44 movies rated R for violence the Commission selected for its study, the Commission found that 35, or 80 percent, were targeted to children under 17. Marketing plans for 28 of those 44, or 64 percent, contained express statements that the film's target audience included children under 17. Plans for the other seven movies were either extremely similar to the plans of the films that did identify an under-17 target audience, or they detailed plans indicating they were targeting that age group, such as promoting the film in high schools or publications with majority under-17 audiences.
Music: Of the 55 music recordings with explicit content labels the Commission selected for its review, the Commission found that all were targeted to children under 17. Marketing plans for 15, or 27 percent, expressly identified children under 17 as part of their target audience. The documents for the remaining 40 explicit-content labeled recordings did not expressly state the age of the target audience, but detailed plans indicating they were targeting that age group, including placing advertising in media that would reach a majority or substantial percentage of children under 17.
Games: Of the 118 electronic games with a Mature rating for violence, the Commission selected for its study, 83, or 70 percent, targeted children under 17. The marketing plans for 60 of these, or 51 percent, expressly included children under 17 in the target audience.
By themselves, these movies, music, and games would not guarantee a violent child.  Taken in the context of a harsh home environment or a tense school culture, the probability increases.
Now you can understand why so many consider homeschooling and managed exposure to the world, especially for the early years.  Children are educated and their character is shaped by what they experience, by their play, by what they see.

Update 2018:  investigation into school shooting incidents uncovered a number of the perpetrators had studied the Columbine event and planned similarly.  The two Columbine shooters were spectacularized in the media around the world, influencing an entire generation.