This is not only for parents–this is for all of us. There is a new ‘problem in town’ and most of us are not aware of what it is.
Most days I don’t want to watch the news because it is all about violence. Seldom a day goes by that we don’t hear of a mass shooting, a stabbing, a beating put on someone (often older citizens because they are easy targets and they don’t or can’t fight back), a robbery or home invasion, kidnappings and rapes or sexual assaults. What do many these instances seem to have in common? There are several factors for sure but research is beginning to point to more violent video games and so called ‘action’ movies which offer more explosions and more graphic visuals of people being blown up or destroyed. Movies are losing out because there can be no direct interaction determining the outcome of the movie itself. And then there have been dramatic changes in music styles, lyrics and subject matter. The list goes on.
The new problem is our children’s ADDICTION TO VIOLENCE. Before you ‘X’ out of this article saying it can’t happen to my kids know that it can, does and will if we don’t do something about it and real soon. We can begin by educating ourselves about what is happening and listen to what others are seeing. Where there is smoke there is usually a fire burning close by.
Certainly the video game producers know about this new social phenomenon. This is what makes them billions. It’s their golden goose. Advertisers know it, media people know it, print media people know it but their pre-occupation with greed (they call it business) and with what sells over rides any moral obligation to the people who put out the cash. They wash their hands of the outcomes of this new addiction by saying they are not responsible for how people respond to their products. Wrong. They are responsible especially when they have done their homework and know the outcomes that are possible. Guilty by commission or omission–still guilty. Sort of sounds like the tobacco companies and the nicotine fiasco doesn’t it? They knew and didn’t care until it cost them billions.
Here are some excerpts from what scientists and researchers have to say:
From a recent article published in Science Daily:
The study “does not demonstrate that one behavior caused the other,” said Dewey Cornell, a professor of education at the University of Virginia. Even so, he said, other research shows “that persons who play violent video games will be more prone to have aggressive thoughts, feelings and actions.”
A few facts from The Zur Institute.com–Innovative Resources & OnLine Continuing Education:
- Although the cause and effect is not clear, the Surgeon General reports that T.V. violence is linked to aggressive behavior in children who view violent shows. Similarly, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, UNESCO, and US Attorney General, have all reached the conclusion is that T.V. violence is linked to the proliferation of violence in our culture.
- In some violent video games, players act as killers as the sole purpose of the game. This can include a disturbingly realistic “target” over other figures in the game.
- The proliferation of violence and pornography on the Internet has become a significant factor in desensitizing children to violence and sexual crimes against women, children and vulnerable minorities.
- Thousands of studies have shown that violence on T.V. can influence behavior and attitudes among children who watch it.
- By age 12, the average child has witnessed tens of thousands of acts of violence on T.V. and games. The gaming acts of violence are even more damaging because the player is actively seeking to kill or wound fellow players. Multiplayer online games have real people taking the part of avatars, which means that fights are going on in real psychological space.
Kids enjoy the high intensity ‘payback’ for the time they have invested when playing video games and watching violent TV shows. They receive the stimulation that they crave and when they are denied that ‘payback’ or they cannot satisfy the ‘craving’ they resort to ways of acting out–usually with violent behavior. It sounds so very similar to the same things that drug addicts and alcoholics go through.
Some behaviors to look for in your kids:
* agitation and anxiety when they cannot play or not allowed to play
* losing track of time–similar to ‘blackouts’ for the alcoholic or the drug addict
* loss of interest in school. Marks begin to fall off, loss of interest in social connections, family and good friends who don’t or aren’t involved in gaming. There is no intense stimulation in these activities so they lose interest.
* increasing complaints about eye stress, headaches and body aches (from sitting in the same position for long periods of time)
* constantly on their personal devices-often instead of talking to someone who is near by
* mood shifts
* difficulty in stopping playing or interrupting ‘the game’–can get angry and violent when forced to do so.
* increased isolation
* they begin to act out unfamiliar responses to real life situations
There are many more but that should provide some indications of what is going on with your kids and their technology.
What to do?
Become informed–do some research-there is a great deal of information out there now. Check out the two web pages I sited earlier and then decide if you recognize any of the symptoms.
Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim
Comments are always welcome. Send to: jimcloughley.com or firstname.lastname@example.org