Representations of violence are not new. In fact, violence has been a key part of media since the birth of literature: Ancient Greek poetry and drama frequently portrayed murder, suicide and self-mutilation, many of Shakespeare’s plays revel in violence, torture, maiming, rape, revenge and psychological terror, and some of the most popular books of the 19th century were “penny dreadfuls” that delivered blood, gore and other shocks to the lowest common denominator.
No one knows better than the communications industries that children and youth represent a huge market, due to both their own spending power and their influence on family spending decisions.
While parents may find certain representations of violence wholly appropriate for young people, there is a wide continuum of content that exists online and in the media. Anything from a cartoon cat having an anvil comically dropped on his head to video images of real life injuries and deaths can be accessed online by children and youth.
It is difficult to set down in a definitive way what effect media violence has on consumers and young people. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main issue is that terms like “violence” and “aggression” are not easily defined or categorized. To a child, almost any kind of conflict, such as the heated arguments of some talk-radio shows or primetime news pundits, can sound as aggressive as two cartoon characters dropping anvils on one another.
In its study of masculinity and sports media, the research group Children Now found that most commercials directed to male viewers tend to air during sports programming. Women rarely appear in these commercials, and when they do, they’re generally portrayed in stereotypical ways.
Media violence has been taken up as a public policy issue by a number of Western countries. Central to the debate has been the challenge of accommodating what may appear to be opposing principles—the protection of children from unsuitable media content and upholding the right to freedom of expression.
The video game sector is the fastest growing entertainment industry and second only to music in profitability. Global sales of video game software hit almost $17 billion U.S. in 2011. 
As concerned adults, we also need to recognize when our anxieties about media violence are used to sell us on blanket censorship, ideology, and a variety of products.
One of the most important recent developments in advertising to kids has been the defining of a “tween” market (ages 8 to 12).
In Canada, there are rules for advertising to children. Except in Quebec, where all advertising to children under the age of 13 is prohibited under the Quebec Consumer Protection Act, advertisements in broadcast media directed at children under 12 years of age must follow a set of voluntary guidelines called the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children. The Code does not pertain to ads broadcast on U.S channels. Compliance with the Code is a condition of licence for Canadian broadcasters.