03 Sep Do you know what your children are watching?
Children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep. Fifty-four percent of children have a TV in their bedroom and 44 percent of these children say they watch something different when they’re alone than with their parents (25 percent choose MTV).[i] Youth today are being more influenced by the media and less influenced by those around them.
The increase of media usage is creating a marked increase in violence in the youth of the world today.
“Researchers fear that the interactive nature of video games increases the likelihood of children learning aggressive behavior and that the increasing realism will encourage greater identification with characters and more imitation of the behaviors of video game models”[ii].
These violent acts that people and especially children take in on a daily basis will gradually break them down and will continue to do so until eventually they become numb to any amount of violence viewed.
This is a problem we can’t ignore. We must take a stand against violence because it is creating violence in today’s youth – violence that could not have even been imagined fifty years ago. Children need to know that the media is not real life and that people should not base their lives and actions off those in the media. Media violence is affecting youth both mentally and physically and has become an ever-present reality.
The law defines “violent video games” as games “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being, if those acts are depicted in the game in a manner that appeals to a deviant or morbid interest for minors, is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community, and it causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors,” or games in which the violence is “especially heinous, cruel or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.” (p.3)[iii]
Why, we may ask ourselves are these violent video games even allowed to exist? The simple answer is: money and profit. Violence has become the norm even so much that we now have laws that have created an official stance on what is considered to be violent. People are letting others decide what is considered violent and non-violent. Many don’t stop to consider the potential negative impact of the simple act of purchasing a game for their children.
Whether it is an unconscious act, like it is for most children or an intentional act as it may be for adults, violence in video games and other forms of media maybe seen as “fun or entertaining” but are actually shaping lives and personalities. At times, though, the choice is not left up to us. Many of these negative images and influences slip unwelcome into our homes and are infused in the technology that we use. Media has become so all consuming that we don’t realize its negative effect until is too late. We have an addiction or we act out in ways that will harm others and ourselves.
“Children and young adults will view violence as an acceptable way to settle conflicts”.[iv] Acting out in a violent manner can be traumatic and devastating. But it must be remembered that every scene of violence viewed in a video game, a television show, or a movie does have an effect on those taking it in. It is cumulative. Young children learn by observing and imitating the things around them. What is the impact on society when such a large amount of what children (and adults) are viewing and interacting with is violent in nature? Unfortunately, this type of interaction has rapidly come to be considered normal.
It is the job of parents to monitor and preview the things their children are viewing. For most parents, it maybe a thankless job, but you will save yourself and your children much heartache and devastation in the end. What the media and video games are portraying is not “real life.[v]” Please make sure your children know the difference. Protect them while you can.
Lorna Bryce is from Rexburg, Idaho, and is a senior at BYU-Idaho studying Marriage and Family Studies. She and her busband are the parents of an almost-two-year-old son. Lorna hopes to be a good mother and wife and an effective family advocate.
Hanah Parker is from the Idaho Falls, Idaho, area and is a recent graduate of BYU-I with a bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies. She hopes to pursue a career as a parent educator and family advocate.
[i] Huston and Wright, University of Kansas. “Television and socialization of young children.”
[ii] Woodard, E.H. and North Gridina. (2000). “Media in the home 2000, the fifth annual survey of parents and children.” The National Youth Violence Prevention Center: 58. (05 Jan. 2000).
[iii]Nance Penny, Mario Diaz, & Special to the Washington Times. (2013, November 12). Violent video games hurt kids: Justices can’t ignore damage to youth from ‘killing’. Washington Times,B.3. from ProQuest Newsstand.
[iv] The Impact of Entertainment on Violence on Children. Congressional Public Health Summit: 24 (26 July 2000).
[v] The Impact of Entertainment on Violence on Children. Congressional Public Health Summit: 24 (26 July 2000).