Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Violence? It's child's play

Graphic violence is available today at the click of a mouse. Technology brings our goriest fantasies to horrific life through TV, electronic video games and computers. Once upon a time, childhood was filled with innocence and gentle light.

Children grew up with charming fairy tales where good always triumphed over evil. Today the flowers of childhood are wilting before the tsunami of graphic violence flowing into our homes. Murderous monsters; bloodthirsty ghouls; stabbings, shootings and mutilations of human beings; all this and more are now regular viewing for young children. Children are often unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A constant barrage of gruesome electronic images can hijack vulnerable young minds. Scholarly studies show that people who frequently view violent images on television or the movies or play violent video games, are compelled to play out those impulses in real life. Other studies link a rise in criminal behaviour to violent media images, and call for a return to healthier and more decent entertainment...

Modern urban lifestyles and parenting methods support this trend towards violence. In the good old days, children spent their free time going out and playing with friends. Parks and safe playgrounds are now a rarity in our cities. Parents today are afraid of letting their children play freely outside without constant supervision. Instead, children are confined indoors for the parents’ convenience and the children’s own safety.

In the security of their homes, children freely explore the murky depths of the internet and video games. Smart children can take advantage of their parents’ lack of awareness of the latest technologies, and secretly view X-rated material at the click of a mouse. Children are spending more time viewing electronic screens, than interacting with other children. This hampers the growth of their relationships with fellow human beings, and affects their overall development into responsible adults. Busy with their own careers and making money, parents have little time to draw their children close and find out what is going on in their lives.

Are violent TV programmes and video games the root cause of escalating violence in today’s world? Or are more complicated factors at play behind our contemporary culture of blood and mayhem? Electronic images aren’t monsters with the power to corrupt normal humans into killing machines. Well-produced TV programmes can educate and inculcate sound moral values in children in a fun way. Video games can develop children’s motor skills and alertness, prevent them from feeling bored and lonely, and falling into bad company. Violence on screens is only a part of a larger problem which makes children today more aggressive.

We like to think of an ideal past when entertainment was clean and innocent. In fact, violence has always been an integral part of human culture, and often an entertaining spectacle for the masses....

My complete essay is published in Sunday Herald