Positive and Negative Impact of Censorship on Youth

by Jason Shaw

           “Censorship is the Regulation to limit the public expression of ideas, views, beliefs, and impulses which have or are considered to be capable of undermining the governing authority or the social and moral order which that authority considers obliged to protect” (Censorship para. 1).

It is the observation, oversight, and regulation of knowledge or ideas promulgated within society. As many people are for and against, censorship has always been a hot topic of discussion, restricting the potential of what can be said or viewed on television, radio, theatres and libraries. Throughout history, censorship has been used not only in authoritarian countries but also in democratic ones. Censorship has been used by organizations as well as individuals from the very beginning of civilization to prevent and regulate harmful inventions, knowledge, and ideas that are pernicious to society. It has taken numerous paths throughout history, and has happened for various reasons. The leading causes of censorship are religion, politics, and sex-related issues. Censorship is typically performed for religious reasons in many fields, such as print media (newspaper), radio, and television, and offensive words, and inappropriate statements or actions. Censorship should be done to benefit society as a whole, as it is essential to protect the community from internal threats, to maintain peace and order. Censorship is required and can be justified, because censorship is vital to preserving social cohesion, racial unity, and protecting the masses from negative forces that can hamper social development.

Positive and Negative Impact of Censorship on Youth

Many people against censorship claim that censorship should not be done because it is illegal to prohibit ideas, thoughts and information in any medium, for the first amendment guarantees freedom of expression and the press.

[sociallocker id=”568″]

Amendment 1 dictates that:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievance” (Bill of Rights: Amendment I 1).

The constitution gave us freedom of speech and of the press, but it is not right to take that freedom and say whatever we want anywhere, whenever. It should be used for equality but should not be misused in any way. For instance, if a person hates another race and writes a book about abolishing that race, that person misuses his / her rights and, at the same time, disrupts society’s harmony. History has shown us, once again, that if not governed by laws and regulations, man is an animal. If censorship is not done, then the world will be messy, as we know. Democracy is not to be taken for granted and is not to be misused. Censorship retains the right to keep the social order in place. It should be borne in mind that too much detail can be a dangerous thing, and often. Having said that, it is accurate, and some facts are not suitable for the entire public. Censorship guarantees that disruptive theories, views, philosophies and attitudes do not perturb the state’s people.

In today’s world, the media plays a crucial role in influencing both good and bad behavior and ideas. One can’t deny it depends on the individual choices and what he / she feels like to watch. But the reality is that when one watches a television show, it stagnates into the memory. This also results in adolescents ending up consuming knowledge even more than they need for their age group, and that affects them. Negative thoughts or opinions should not affect young people’s minds, since they are easily affected by what they see and hear around them. This can have a dangerous effect if there is no censorship to monitor what the youth are watching. There is no harm in filtering what should be taught or what information should be given to the child as long as it is for the betterment of society. Researchers believe that cognitive control over high-risk behaviors is still developing during adolescence age, which makes them participate in risky behaviors. As the brain’s emotion-related areas and connectivity are still developing, adolescents are more vulnerable to psychological disorders which may attribute to the risky behaviors. Therefore, feeding too much negative information can only lead to chaos and social disruption, and censorship should be regulated.

Censorships are often guided purely by morality, and also the conviction that any amount of exposure to violence leads students to act in violent ways. Censoring violent acts is necessary for the media as it can corrupt young minds. It is crucial that any community protects itself from violence. Depicting violence in the media can have a negative influence on the youth as well as grownups, and this can disrupt the peace of society. Exposure to violence can affect the mental and social health of the people as it often triggers a person’s brutal instinct. There are several empirical findings that indicate children who have been exposed to acts of violence are more susceptible to violent actions towards others. Children should not be disclosed to too much violence in the media form as it can have a disastrous impact on their behavior. ” Children are affected by the media — they learn to interpret, mimic and make their own behaviors. In imitating observed models, violent attitudes and behaviours are taught. Research has shown that the strongest single correlation with violent acts is a previous exposure to violence. Titillating violence in a sexual context and comic violence is particularly dangerous because they associate positive feelings with hurting others” (Wagner 1). Censorship of violence in media is necessary as not all media texts and acts are suitable for all audiences.

The increase in crime and violent acts of the children in America is alarming, and this confirms the fact that censorship should be done to control the attitude and outlook of the youth. Censorship has a wide variety of advantages, and it should be used to manage the negative thoughts that can influence the child. “Violence is ubiquitous in American mass media. Before age 18.6 an average American youth will experience 200,000 violent episodes alone on television. Violence is often considerable, even in programs that are not advertised as violent. Weapons feature an average of 9 times each hours on prime time television. An estimated 54 percent of American children can watch this programming from the privacy of their own bedrooms” (Violence, Media (Position Paper) para. 4). In many cases, time and again, we have seen children being triggered to kill by the violent acts they saw on television. To take one example, in 1994, a police officer in Milwaukee was killed by two teenagers just to have fun. When questioned by the authority, they stated that they assassinated the police officer as they were influenced by the song of Tupac Shakur “2 Pacalypse Now” which glamorized the killing of policemen. It is clear that without controlling what material is delivered to the masses, we cannot expect people to have the necessary sense of what is right or wrong. Glamorizing violence in media allows the children to continually submerge themselves to see horrific things that can alter their behavior negatively.

Censorship of books at schools is one of the most contentious areas of controversy in censorship. This is a sensitive case as it involves the youth, parents, and the academicians. Many people are against the idea of censoring books in school libraries. One of the main arguments regarding this topic is that it is unjustifiable for libraries to limit the knowledge of the students and dictate what is right and wrong in the works of literature. Many are also of the view that Censorship undermines the faith of the intelligence of the readers and, at the same time, oppressed free thinking. On the other hand, there are also several rationalizations that people use in libraries to encourage censorship. One of the key reasons for censorship is that since it can corrupt the youth, the information or a piece of literature that the standard of authority considers harmful or misleading must be censored. People who support censorship are also of the belief that students should not be exposed to contentious literature issues as they will be led astray. Censorships in school libraries are also solely motivated by morality and even the belief that exposure to violent books causes students to behave in destructive ways. Many works of literature were banned in schools in the 90’s: Of mice and men, Catcher in the Rye, The grapes of Wrath, Lord of the flies, etc. Most frequently, books are censored by school libraries as they contain violence, sex, homosexuality, and rebellious children. All these issues should not be exposed to young children as it is not age appropriate. When the censorship board challenges a book and its content, it is generally out of concern for the children that the content can be harmful to young readers. The motivating factors for censoring books in school libraries are family values, political views, religions, and minority rights. Therefore censoring books in the school libraries, which can corrupt young minds, is perfectly justifiable.

The censorship of pornography has a positive effect on society. Pornography can be defined as sexually explicit materials such as “books, magazines, films, etc., with no artistic value which describes or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting but would be considered unpleasant or offensive by many people” (Howard 53).

One of the subjects that has been addressed most today is child pornography. Child pornography is degrading and can be equated with modern slavery. Children are used as sexual laborers when they should be out playing in the streets. Child pornography is intrinsically morally wrong and should be censored, and its practice should also be brought to justice. It can encourage people to think that abusing is a child is right, and it threatens traditional family and religious institutions. The life of the child affected by pornography is unimaginable, and the fact that it can lead to other people predating other children is just horror. The lives and well being of the children should be protected at any cost. If these types of pornography are not censored, we will be heading to moral degradation in society. Not censoring it would be as good as promoting it.

Censorship of pornography is legal, and the pornography law states that,

“The current pornography law states: “For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty, and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene. Or; for this Act, any matter or thing is obscene where a dominant characteristic of the matter or thing is the undue exploitation of any one or more of the following subjects, namely, sex, violence, crime, horror or cruelty, through degrading representations of a male or female person or in any other manner” (Steacy 8).

The state is rightly justified in using its power to enforce a community’s moral conviction and to prevent its member from engaging in activities that disrupt the morality and decency of the community. Child Pornography undermines and threatens the stability of the moral fabric of society as it encourages sexual promiscuity and practices. Many countries have banned the use of child pornography, and this is the right move. Just because we are given freedom does not necessarily mean that we have to exploit our freedom. In a perfect world, censoring pornography would not be needed as people would not have the taste to watch it. But, we don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world where everyone feels the need for security, so we can promote censorship of any content that can disturb the unity of society.

The internet has created a world of fantastic opportunities. It has both positive and negative impacts on society. Although the internet has given the world unprecedented opportunities for people all over the world, at the same time, sexual predators have used the internet to advertise the sexual abuse of the children. Some of the online information can be very useful, and other information such as child pornography may be dangerous. With the advancement of technology, anyone can find child pornography on the internet with a click of a mouse using any search engine. Even though law enforcement officials have made tremendous efforts to control or curb child pornography, it is complicated to crack it down. Every nation needs to tackle this problem, as no country is free from child abuse. Nothing good or positive comes out from child pornography, and most of the government of the world has a hard time cracking it. The government should censor internet content so that we can protect the lives of innocent children and save the lives of many kids. The motivations behind the censorship of internet content are a well-intentioned desire to practice children from unsuitable content on the internet. It should be remembered that the reasons behind the censors’ cause are to block access to unnecessary information that could corrupt young minds. The harsh reality is that many things spiral out of control without censorship as a man can’t be trusted to always make the right decision or be swayed by the things around him. Internet content should be censored to ensure the smooth running of society.

In conclusion, the policy censorships outweigh the adverse effects. Restricting the youth activities to help them reach their full potential can be justified at any cause. Students need guidance to shape up their life, and handing them information based on the beliefs and standards of the society is justifiable. As mentioned before, Censorships are also solely motivated by morality and even the belief that exposure to violence in any stream causes men to behave in destructive ways. In today’s world, censorship is required, and it can be properly justified as censorship is essential to preserving social cohesion, racial unity, and protecting the masses from negative forces that can hamper social development.


Work Cited
  • Bill of Rights: Amendment I. Legal Information Institute. Cornell University School. n.d. Web. 25 November 2011. < http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights>
  • Bourke, Vernon J. Morals Problem Related to Censoring the Media of Mass Communication. Print.
  • Censorship. Freeessays.cc. 2003. Web. 25 November 2011. <http://www.freeessays.cc/db/43/sxg167.shtml>
  • Child Pornography: Model and Global Review. International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. 5th edn. 2008. Print.
  • Howard, Gillian. Vetting and Monitoring Employees: A Guide for HR Practitioners. Gower Publishing Limited. 2006. Web. 25 November 2011.
  • Steacy, Ken. Canadian Criminal Code. The True North. Web. 25 November 2011. <http://mypage.uniserve.ca/~lswong/laws.html>
  • The Influence of Media Violence on Youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Vol4. 2003. Print.
  • Violence, Media (Position Paper). American Academy of Family Physicians. 2011. Web. 25 November 2011. <http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/v/violencemedia.html>
  • Wagner, Mirabai. A. & Wagner, Jan. Should We Censor Violence in the Media? Web. 25 November 2011. <http://www.yellodyno.com/pdf/Viole


Related Content