The arguments connecting media violence or suggestive sexual content to real-life actions never seem to end.
First, violence: A group from the National Academy of Sciences told the Obama administration that a "direct relationship" between media exposure and violent acts still doesn't exist -- but that some evidence points to a "significant relationship." Sounds murky at best.
While violence-oriented scripted TV programming and many violent movies have gotten blamed over the years, one area that seemingly gets short-shrift is TV news programming: "ongoing, sensationalized stories about high-profile murders and mass shootings... has not been the subject of systematic research," the group said.
The suggestion is that the effects of childhood exposure to violence in the media is tough to analyze and document. For example, does everyone think about arming themselves with guns and other weaponry from watching violent content? And if not, why not?
Another question concerns sexually themed content: Are the growing instances of "pixilated" or blurred video of nudity not good for society at large -- in particular, young children? If more provocative video content is on the rise, especially on the broadcast networks, what is the result? Perhaps a more prurient society.
In both instances, we are left in a vacuum when it comes to compelling research about the media’s effect on behavior.
There is no argument over the growth of all kinds of content on all sorts of platforms. At the same time, content is much more fragmented these days, including that TV news programming. So as we are watching all kinds of stuff in smaller audience groups, it becomes harder to figure out the causes of certain behavior.