COLUMN: Violent video games and films are damaging our children suggests Westwell of Ely

Rosemary Westwell

Rosemary Westwell - Credit: Archant

There seem to be two schools of thought. Video games and films affect children’s minds or they do not.

I’m definitely on the side of believing that when constantly watching violent games or brutal films, children are affected by them.

More often than not, children mimic what they experience in real life and in fiction.

Most days, you can see children acting out scenes from their favourite films with their favourite characters in the local park, so why should we expect them not to act out other unsuitable material?

When some locals were in Hong Kong several years ago and their children were quite young, they were watching TV in the morning when an unsuitable x-rated movie was starting.

The parents had always said that it didn’t matter what their children saw, as long as the parents were there to explain that what was going on was fiction and hardly ever happened in life and was not something you copied, everything would be alright.

On this occasion it took only the first scene for the parents to switch the TV off quickly and decided to go for a walk.

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Show children how to do something, and they will try to do it. Quite often teachers demonstrate to school children how to do something positive and it reaps rewards.

After all, that is the essence of teaching although I sometimes questioned the curriculum in schools that touched on ‘difficult’ subjects.

There is obviously a reason why there are so many advertisements geared towards children.

They obviously increase sales because children want what they see – they are affected by what they see.

A headteacher in Devon recently banned a dance inspired by a new violent game. It encouraged children to intimidate other children in the playground. Yet some parents complained.

Some people think bullying is part of growing up and should be allowed so that children can learn how to cope with it.

I say, bullying should never be allowed and it is the bullies who need to be taught about life rather than their victims.

Bullying and intimidation are not only rife in the playground - they are regularly experienced in adult life.

Refusing to be bullied may create friction, but it is better to do this than allow bullies to make life untenable for their victims. Need I mention anything more that the World War II?

It is time video game makers thought less of making their games exciting by having children pretend to kill people one after the other.

It is time they thought of other more constructive ways to entertain for there is no doubt in my mind that children are deeply affected by what they see.