Many children watch a lot of violence on television. And we know for a fact that there has been an enormous expansion of violent computergames in the last decade. Does it have any effect on the children? Should it be banned? Who is taking the responsibility?
The first question is quite easy. Of course it influence the children who are watching it! When they’ve watched films containing a lot of fighting-scenes, they act more aggressively than they usually do. They aren’t able to separate between real violence at news, and violence at films. It’s like watching a theatrical performance. When they see a character hit another person to get what he want, they start to believe that violence is the only way to solve difficult problems. Even if the violence is done with good reason (if there is any..) by a policeman, they can’t part it from «nasty violence». Research shows us that children who watch many hours of violent television, tended to be more aggressive on the playground and in the classroom.
The fact is that the average American child have watched 100,000 acts of televised violence, including 8000 murders, by the time he or she finishes sixth grade. American children watch an average of three to fours hours of television daily. I think that’s too much, because too much violence could make them "immune" to the horror of violence.
I also think it’s important to ask the children wether they like what they watch on television or not, wether they belive that the scenes really could happen, how the scenes make them feel, how they guess the film will end, how they would have solved the problem ect. These questions would help them to part the real world from such films.
I don’t want all the violent videofilms to be banned. It’s a lot of entertainment in watching violence. This may hear totally reprehensible and brutal, but don’t you think people like to see other people kick, shoot, and kill each other? I think so, because we all se them just for fun. People even go to the movie to watch such brutal violence. Our problem is that the children also might get a hold on these films. Should we deny the TV-stations to broadcast it? I think that’s a good idea. There are much more difficult to get a videotape, than to turn on the television late at nights!
«Watching TV violence can be harmful to your child’s health.» Like the cigarette warning, those 10 words should be printed in bold, black letters on the side of every television sold in this country. Since broadcasters won’t do it, and TV manufacturers won’t do it, I suggest that you should do it yourself for your own children. Make a sign and tape it to the side of your television, as a daily reminder before you light up the screen.
In Norway there is a proposal from «Kulturdepartementet» to make the same rules and appreciation for computergames as there are for films. I must say that I agree to that, but I have some problems to understand how it should be accomplished. It is much more easier to copy a game than it is to copy a videocassette. Of course it’s illegal to do this, but some children don’t mind at all. The new suggestion in Norway only effects the distributors, because it won’t be illegal to be in possession of brutal computergames. In our society, many grownups don’t manage to follow the technological development. Very often, the children have more knowledge about technology than their parents! Therefore, it’s not that easy to check what kind of games their computer contains. I think people who look after their children should attend to their doings in the computer, and ask them questions.
The worst thing to do, is to use the television and computer as babysitters. What kind of upbringing are children getting from their electronic nannies? People are wailing about how much violence and awful things that are to be seen in films, but still they keep showing them on television and cinemas. I think that it’s a double set of morality. I give the responsibility to the parents. They are the only one who can protect their kids from this cruelty.