Each day we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
- Charles Swindoll
Each day not only do we make deposits in the memory banks of our children, but so does life. And now, in our post-millenial world, many deposits in the minds and memories of our kids come from electronic media such as TV, video games, social networking sites, text messages and more. Did you know that the average American child spends one third of each day with some form of electronic media? And approximately 90 % of kids in the U.S. from eight to eighteen play video games regularly, with boys averaging about 19 hours a week.
These statistics and others you are about to read are from the research journal, Children and Electronic Media, put out the highly respected Princeton-Brookings Institute. The findings revealed here shed light on the enormous influence media have on our children’s development, behavior, and well-being. Particularly disturbing were the findings on how media violence affects kids:
- “Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts” -- the conclusion of an expert panel convened by the U.S. Surgeon General
- “Exposure to media violence can increase aggressive thinking, aggressive emotions, and tolerance for aggression, all known risk factors for later aggressive and violent behavior.”
- Frequent exposure to medial violence causes “increased feelings of anger and revenge motives, decreased sensitivity to scenes and images of real violence, and changes in brain function associated with lower executive control and heightened emotion.” Diminished executive control in the brain causes decrease in the ability to control impulses.
- “Media violence exposure has a larger effect on later violent behavior than does substance use, abusive parents, or poverty.”
There are so many things we can’t control in life, but we DO have the power to control shows our kids watch and video games they play. Read on to find out five things you can do right now.
( To read the entire report quoted here, go to:http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=32&articleid=60§ionid=285&submit)
For a list of the 10 most violent video games scroll down.
MEDIA VIOLENCE AND YOUR KIDS: 5 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
- Carefully monitor TV shows your kids watch and video games they play. This includes what’s being consumed at friend’s houses. Check in with parents of your kids’ friends and share this information with them.
- Help your kids understand that violent videos and TV shows are harmful to them (even if they like watching or playing them). Let them know that steady consumption of violent media not only causes aggression, it also hampers healthy brain development.
- Don’t try to be the good guy. If your child says Grand Theft Auto is his favorite video, resist the urge buy it for him in spite of what you know. See below for positive alternatives that your kids can enjoy.
- Know what’s in the videos and TV shows your kids are watching. Watch things with them if you’re not sure, and press the stop button if there’s too much violence. Discuss what you saw, and use this as an opportunity to help them understand the negative impact of media violence.
- Check out ratings and content at CommonSenseMedia.org, an excellent watchdog group that monitors all things media.
The 10 Most Violent Video Games of 2009: From Common Sense Media
(Each title is followed by a description and an acceptable alternative):
1. Manhunt. Players advance by stalking and killing victims, all for the delight of a "director" who urges you to make the killings bloodier, more cunning, and ever more horrific. Manhunt 2 is more of the same, but now you've been injected with a drug to bring out your "homicidal tendencies." Alternative: Mirror's Edge
2. Resident Evil 5. Using guns, swords, or a chainsaw, you shoot, hack, and slash oncoming enemies, producing copious amounts of blood. And the game's racial undertones are hard to ignore, as the white hero (accompanied by a light-skinned African American) has to kill mostly black victims infected by the zombie-causing virus. Alternative: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
3. Dead Rising. Based on the 1978 Dawn of the Dead zombie splatter flick, this game combines gory imagery -- like shotgun blasts, chainsaw dismemberment, and hand-to-hand combat -- with images of nude women on various objects. Alternative: Prince of Persia
4. Resident Evil 4. Players must stab, shoot, and bomb their way through hundreds of realistic-looking humans and monsters. Cursing and sexual dialogue round out the mix. Alternative: Ghostbusters: The Video Game
5. Grand Theft Auto. (specifically Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) Players can kill other humans, including police officers, or drive into pedestrians on sidewalks and in parks. Gang warfare, beatings, drive-by shootings, and bloody deaths are all shown in gory detail. Alternative: InFAMOUS
6. God of War II. Players can do everything from ripping the eye out of a Cyclops to twisting the head off of Medusa to slicing off enemies' arms with chains strapped to their wrists. There's also a sex mini-game. Alternative: Batman: Arkham Asylum
8. MadWorld. With the Wii remote and Nunchuk in your hands, you simulate the motions used to split someone open with a chainsaw, punch opponents with your fists, or pick up and use assorted objects scattered throughout the levels to dismember, bludgeon, and impale your foes. Alternative: Punchout
9. Gears of War. You can use a chainsaw to rip apart enemies or machine guns to spray them down. Characters and world are photorealistic, making bloody battles seem even gorier. Alternative: Halo Wars
10. Saints Row 2. The protagonist never shows hesitation or remorse, often deliberately choosing the most violent means possible of carrying out missions -- declaring such methods "more fun" at least once -- and taking pleasure in homicide. Alternative: Battlefield Heroes