Does the portrayal of violence in the media affect human behaviour? Should we be concerned about violence in computer games, books and film? These questions are being asked more often as games in particular grow ever more realistic.
The US Supreme Court recently debated whether video games are worse than films and books because they are interactive. While one of the Justices even highlighted a study that “says that the effect of violence is the same for a Bugs Bunny episode as it is for a violent video.”
We asked one of our readers to put forward her views for the first of a series of ‘Guest Blogs.’ Here is ‘Emma, 32’.
Murder has intrigued me since I was quite young. I think it began around the time of one of our country’s worst murder cases which was the abduction and murder of young James Bulger.
What motivated Jon Venables and Robert Thompson to commit such a ghastly crime at such a young age? Personally I would have put these two grotesque human beings in prison for life (meaning whole life). I feel these boys knew exactly what they where going to do when they left their houses that morning.
There was speculation at the time it was due to the boys watching a horror movie called Child’s Play but the more you think about it the less comprehendible it becomes. How could children be so cruel?
Before I became a mother myself I thought the very idea of games, movies and music changing a child’s behaviour was completely ridiculous.
I now have a very different view – that it does change a person, especially those whom are most suggestible. I am by no means a perfect parent but I felt I had to confiscate my eldest son’s computer war game due to the person he had become. He went from being a very placid child/teen to being verbally and physically abusive to all of us in the house.
I can recall a TV program I watched on Channel 4 (Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance) where they did an experiment with a group of children playing video games. Half were playing non-violent games and the other half were playing violent games. The ones that had been playing the violent games had become completely desensitised to others’ needs and feelings.
Yes, these games, music and movies have certification but parents will go out and purchase these for their underage children. One particular movie I found rather disturbing is Quentin Tarantino’s Hostel (rated 18), in which backpackers are tortured and murdered. I was extremely shocked to learn that my son had seen this movie whilst sleeping round a friend’s house – hence he is no longer allowed to unless I know the parents well.
It is hard as a parent because you don’t know what your child is doing when they leave your house. Mine are now getting to the age where it won’t be long before I search them on leaving and entering the house.
Even cartoons nowadays glamorise violence, such as the Simpsons with Itchy and Scratchy. Children should not be exposed to such things at such a young age.