Do you think violent media is bad for kids? : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

Is this a simple yes or no question? I doubt it. Is the answer closer to, "some violent media is bad for some kids"? Do you think there is too much hysteria surrounding this issue? Or do you think we generally need to be concerned about children being inundated with violent images?

If you do think violent media is bad for kids, what are your solutions? Are you in favor of censorship, or do you think parents should be responsibile for monitoring what their children see?

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000


I have to answer backwards. I think parents should be responsible for monitoring what their children watch. I pre-view nearly every movie I take my kid to see, I watch shows on tv before I let him watch, I think that's my absolute responsibility.

In that light, I don't think that violent media is necessarily -bad- for children, but it's not a shot of Vitamin C, either. I think if a parent pays significant attention to what's available for their kids to watch, they're the best people to make the judgment on what is too violent. For example, my kid treats Pokemon like entertainment, but he likes to act out Power Rangers on unsuspecting people. They both have aspects of violence, but he reacts differently to each presentation; thus, it's fine for him to watch Pokemon, but not Power Rangers.

In all that, I think the general hysteria is overblown, but I can understand it, because there aren't a lot of people who are willing to pay to see Pokemon: The Movie twice, once to see if it's appropriate, and once to take their kid. It's easier to not monitor your kids and hope everything turns out okay. I'd like to thunk those people on the head, because I don't want the government to decide what's appropriate viewing/reading material for me, or my kid. That's my job.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

If advertising works on "most people", then violent movies/TV shows increase aggression in "most people" as well. The thing is (in my opinion), once you can distinguish a movie from reality, then it is pretty obvious that movie violence is not real. (Of course I still shut my eyes during violent parts of movies.)

And as in everything, if parents are worried about violence, they should monitor things themselves, not let censorship take care of things. There is so much information about movies on the 'net now that parents need not watch a movie twice (which is, by the way, what my parents would do until I left home) to decide if it is suitable or not.

-- Anonymous, July 28, 2000

I do take heed to what I read from various sources, but the only two times I went without watching first, I really regretted it. The first time was Hunchback of Notre Dame which I thought was a great movie, but too complicated for a three year old, and the opening was too scary (somebody's mommy getting her head dashed on the steps of a Cathedral... mmm, good clean family fun!)

Same thing with The Prince of Egypt - my son was five when that came out, and the reviews I read were all of the "sparkling animation!" variety. They failed to mention how terrifying the Angel of Death sequence was. I mean, I knew the story already, but it gave me the willies, and gave my son nightmares.

Point being, in the end, I don't think taking other people's words (be it the government, or a movie critic) can ever replace actively monitoring the sitch yourself.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

Who the heck has the time to preview every program their kid is going to see? I don't see how it would be so difficult to implement some kind of rating system.

Power Rangers is evil. I've seen many a kid under the influence.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

This is not a question with a cut-and-dried answer and never will be. I do, however, reject wholesale the validity of blanket statements such as "violence is bad for kids and encourages them to be violent/rapists/serial killers/all-round shits/etc". Those sorts of statements are gross over-simplifications made by people who can't be bothered to think about the subject, and they don't help anyone.

I think what you say is right about some violence being bad for some kids. If media violence per se were as bad for kids per se (or indeed people per se) as it's said to be, then the crime rate would surely be a thousand times worse than it is. Obviously you will get a few who are set off by violent images, but those few will be well outnumbered by those who aren't.

I'm against censorship, but parental control is a good idea. More parents should probably take it up. I have a number of films in my video collection that are totally unsuitable for kids, and if I had little JRs to take care of I'd make damn sure I kept them away from them. Not that it's just recent media that can be troublesome; personally I wouldn't let a young child watch something even as old as King Kong

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

I think the key is knowing whether your kids can distinguish fantasy from reality. Some people CAN'T---like the people who think a soap opera actor is the same as the part they play---and for people like that, violent media is bad. When he was young, Brian, at least, showed he could distinguish quite well, and I tended to stretch the limit for him that I wouldn't for another kid. I let him watch R- rated movies at a relatively young age, but drew that line at SOME violent slasher films, like the Friday the 13th movies. He showed repeatedly that such films do not give him nightmares nor influence him unduly. (I think for most normal people, violent movies tend to be a catharsis. They get it out in their fantasies, and don't act on it in real life. I think the vast majority of people who watch violent movies and television lead the mildest of lives, and those that I know that ARE violent hardly ever watch either. As if they have to get it out because they DON'T sublimate it.)

That also means there is a minority that it will affect very, very strongly, and there are nephews and nieces that I would no more let watch some of the movies I let Brian watch while younger than fly to the moon.

Yes, I am in favor of the parents being responsible for monitoring what their children see. Obviously. You can get a quick idea of how violent a movie is by doing ten seconds' research on the Web. You don't have to pre-screen it or anything.

The same is true of sexual content, BTW, which I also stretched with Brian when he was younger. He probably saw R-rated movies for sexual content when he was between eight and ten which included a good deal of female nudity and sexual innuendo and implied sex (A couple in bed together, sheets over them, in obvious motion)...though I still won't let him watch AMERICAN PIE, whose most infamous shot is a kid copulating with a piece of pastry.

I trust him, but I really like some pies, and would hate to see them, ummm, wasted....*Grin*


-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

The media is desensitizing our children to violence. Hell they see it everywherehowever, though we may have an on off button on our televisions, that does not mean our kid are not exposed somewhere else where we lack this control.

What can we do? Stick our heads out the window and yell Im mad as hell and Im not going to take this anymore.. no that only works in the movies. Violence, sells as long as there is a market and people watch, and buy violent toys, games, ect for their kids it will continue.

The problem as I see it is that the parents are not explaining to these kids that this is not reala lack of reality check when it comes to parenting. Hey, kids learn by example. If they have TVs for babysitters and action figures for role models what do you expect will happen?

No, I do not believe in censorship, however I do believe in making sure that my kid knows the difference between right and wrong, and fantasy and reality.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

Heck yes!

We see a direct correlation between Russell's behavior and recent TV shows he's watched. If he watches anything the least bit violent, suddenly, his behavior is more violent and defiant.

Russell's a sweet gentle kid, so for him to suddenly act violent is just plain weird and REEEEEEEAL obvious. (Defiance on the other hand is just par for the course.)

Our solution has been that he simply doesn't get to watch anything that's violent. We have taken him to movies in the theater and been surprised to find g-rated films to have more violence or implied violence than we'd have expected. (I mean, it's G, right?) He doesn't get to watch Saturday morning cartoons because the "good" ones are often too violent.

Ultimately, I think parents should be responsible for what their kids watch. If a parent doesn't take the time to see what their kids are watching for themselves, they shouldn't let their kids watch it.

I am not in favor of censorship because I think that sets a legal precedent for censoring other areas of society. The responsibility of a free press is that we have to determine for ourselves what's sensible and what's not. As parents, are responsibility extends to making that determination for our kids.

-- Anonymous, July 30, 2000

Violent media is probably bad for kids, yeah. But I can't prove anything beyond a hunch.

All the traditional fairy tales are violent and a case could be made (read Bruno Bettleheim's The Uses of Enchantment) that these stories help children deal with their feelings of anger and frustration with the authority figures in their lives and other things.

However, stories kids read or hear are a lot less intense than video games or movies or even TV.

I don't think there's too much hysteria around this. The producers of these things naturally want there to be little or no debate, and a lot of parents aren't that concerned or just haven't thought about it. It's an issue they should be thinking about.

I don't have any problem with censorship. as an adult I can see what I please so it won't affect me, and could protect kids.

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2000

Personally, I wish I had thousands of kids handy so I could try exposing each of them to a different variety of stimuli: Little Fred gets to watch Pokemon, Janey watches City of Lost Children. Fred II watches Pokemon too, but all in Japanese language. Janey II sits through City too, but 5 times, and with her eyelids taped open. Also a variety of parental input/response modalities would be tried out. I'm hoping to have a definitive guide to the raising of children, i.e. what inputs will produce what characteristics, by the time I actually decide to have children of my own.

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2000

What about "Lion King" and the father's death? And "Anastasia" where Rasputin is trying to do away with the two main characters?

I remember seeing "Jungle Book" as a kid and being terrorified.

As an adult, I would take responsibility to filter what my children see and at what age. Personally, I don't like violent films or shows (they give me food for my nightmare problem), so I don't watch. With me, it is a preference thing I'll hand down to my kids.

I don't think it is wise for gov't to tell us what we can/can't watch. On the other hand, I don't really see the compelling need to make so many violent programs.

When we see violence in our lives (outside TV), it is not the norm. But with programming, violence has become more of the norm. But does that teach children that violence is okay? I really dont' know. Tell you what - we can take all the violence off for 5 years and see how the kids are doing?????

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2000

I think that children run into problems when they don't understand the difference between TV and movie violence and the consequences of real violence. I noticed early on that most of the violence Alex saw was on the evening news. I explained to him that the staged violence in movies and television leaves out a lot of important facts. Real life victims of violence don't fall gracefully to the ground and have a dime size spot of blood on their shirt. I also told him that real life victims have families and friends who are devestated by these tragedys. Pointing these facts out to my son has made him more aware of other peoples realities and much more empathetic. I took my eight year old son Alex to see "The Patriot" last week. The ticket girl looked at me like I was a monster for bringing a child to this R rated movie, but Alex enjoyed the movie and had alot of questions about the revolutionary war and the founding of our country. I also received alot of flack from a friend who thought that the battle scenes were to graphic. Well you know what, war is violent. I also took the time to talk about the "madness of crowds" theory and why some people get so excited and celebratory over the prospect of fighting a "good war". My point is this. Children are going to be exposed to violence. It is our duty as parents not to shield them from the reality of violence but to educate them and sensitize them to the consequences of violent acts.

-- Anonymous, July 31, 2000

"Children are going to be exposed to violence. It is our duty as parents not to shield them from the reality of violence but to educate them and sensitize them to the consequences of violent acts." Hear hear! My thoughts exactly. It worked well for me, and I think it's working for my own kids as well. When I was a kid, my parents pretty much let me watch anything I wanted to, but they were always on hand to talk to me about it if the need arose. Looking back, the images that keep coming back from those days are images of real violence - Vietnam, the Middle East, and especially the 1974 Olympics and other terrorist acts from that era. I was about ten years old at the time, and those events had a far bigger impact on me than any movie or tv-series I've ever seen - although I do remember having nightmares about an Avengers episode starring Christopher Lee. In the meantime, I had a huge collection of toy soldiers and I always played cowboys & indians with my friends. The point is that I could always talk to my parents about it, and they helped me to put it all into perspective and sort out my own feelings. In the end, I became the biggest pacifist you could possibly imagine. I've always used the same approach with my own kids, and so far it seems to work just as well for them as it once did for me. I don't shield them from violent media, but I do encourage - no, make that demand - intelligent discourse about it. Most of the time their opinions on the subject are well thought out.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2000

I refused to buy toy guns for my son. So....he went into the back yard and *made* one out of a stick. I limit his TV time and his computer gaming time to about an hour a day. He still plays *guys* and the *guys* are always battling and trying to kill each other. Anything above a General audience rating is filtered for preview by me. Any game that has even a slightly remote chance of being bloody and violent is banned until he is *older*...But instead of getting all caught up in the hysteria, I just want him to know how precious life is and once it is gone, there is no bringing it back.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ