I worry about my Children

In recent times I have developed the habit of worrying about my children though they are yet to be born. With everything I read and everything I learn I get more concerned about how I will be able to raise children in this increasingly technological world where morals are being derailed at every turn.

Take something as simple as a video game for instance. Its seems like a great toy to buy for your child but if you do some research you may think twice before buying it. To be honest I’m not sure my children will ever own a video game…

A video game is one of the most interactive forms of media that children interact with. They transcend what television is/was able to offer by allowing children to become very involved in the action rather than just sitting and watching as it takes place.

Violence in general, and sexual violence in particular, is also a staple of the video game industry. The current trend is for players to be the bad guys, acting out criminal fantasies and earning points for attacking and killing innocent bystanders. Although these games are rated M, for mature audiences, it is common knowledge that they are popular among pre-teens and teen-aged boys and girls to a lesser extent.

For example, players in Grand Theft Auto 3 earn points by carjacking, and stealing drugs from street people and pushers. And one of the top-selling video games in the world, Grand Theft Auto, is programmed so players can beat prostitutes to death with baseball bats after having sex with them.

In Carmageddon, players are rewarded for mowing down pedestrians — sounds of cracking bones add to the realistic effect.

The first-person shooter in Duke Nukem hones his skills by using pornographic posters of women for target practice, and earns bonus points for shooting naked and bound prostitutes and strippers who beg, “Kill me.”

In the game Postal, players act out the part of the Postal Dude, who earns points by randomly shooting everyone who appears — including people walking out of church, and members of a high school band. Postal Dude is programmed to say, “Only my gun understands me.”

The level of violence in the gaming habits of young people is disturbingly high. In MNet’s 2001 study Young Canadians In A Wired World (which found that 32 per cent of kids 9 to 17 are playing video games “every day or almost every day”), 60 per cent cited action/combat as their favourite genre. Stephen Kline of Simon Fraser University reported similar findings in his 1998 study of over 600 B.C. teens. Twenty-five per cent of the teens he surveyed played between seven and 30 hours a week and when asked for their one favourite game, their choice was “overwhelmingly” in the action/adventure genre.

Statistics

Countless studies have been conducted on Media violence and its influence on behaviour particularly among children. Researchers have taken a number of different approaches however most if not all have concluded that there is a correlation between the viewing or interacting with media violence and subsequent behaviour in children:

  1. Children who consume high levels of media violence are more likely to be aggressive in the real world and
  2. Children who watch high levels of media violence are at increased risk of aggressive behaviour as adults
  3. Research strand: Children who consume high levels of media violence are more likely to be aggressive in the real world

In 1956, researchers took to the laboratory to compare the behaviour of 24 children watching TV. Half watched a violent episode of the cartoon Woody Woodpecker, and the other 12 watched the non-violent cartoon The Little Red Hen. During play afterwards, the researchers observed that the children who watched the violent cartoon were much more likely to hit other children and break toys.

Six years later, in 1963, professors A. Badura, D. Ross and S.A. Ross studied the effect of exposure to real-world violence, television violence, and cartoon violence. They divided 100 preschool children into four groups. The first group watched a real person shout insults at an inflatable doll while hitting it with a mallet. The second group watched the incident on television. The third watched a cartoon version of the same scene, and the fourth watched nothing.

When all the children were later exposed to a frustrating situation, the first three groups responded with more aggression than the control group. The children who watched the incident on television were just as aggressive as those who had watched the real person use the mallet; and both were more aggressive than those who had only watched the cartoon.

Over the years, laboratory experiments such as these have consistently shown that exposure to violence is associated with increased heartbeat, blood pressure and respiration rate, and a greater willingness to administer electric shocks to inflict pain or punishment on others. However, this line of inquiry has been criticized because of its focus on short term results and the artificial nature of the viewing environment.

Other scientists have sought to establish a connection between media violence and aggression outside the laboratory. For example, a number of surveys indicate that children and young people who report a preference for violent entertainment also score higher on aggression indexes than those who watch less violent shows. L. Rowell Huesmann reviewed studies conducted in Australia, Finland, Poland, Israel, Netherlands and the United States. He reports, “the child most likely to be aggressive would be the one who (a) watches violent television programs most of the time, (b) believes that these shows portray life just as it is, [and] (c) identifies strongly with the aggressive characters in the shows.”

A study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2003 found that nearly half (47 per cent) of parents with children between the ages of 4 and 6 report that their children have imitated aggressive behaviours from TV.  However, it is interesting to note that children are more likely to mimic positive behaviours — 87 per cent of kids do so.

Recent research is exploring the effect of new media on children’s behaviour. Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman of Iowa State University reviewed dozens of studies of video gamers. In 2001, they reported that children and young people who play violent video games, even for short periods, are more likely to behave aggressively in the real world; and that both aggressive and non-aggressive children are negatively affected by playing.

In 2003, Craig Anderson and Iowa State University colleague Nicholas Carnagey and Janie Eubanks of the Texas Department of Human Services reported that violent music lyrics increased aggressive thoughts and hostile feelings among 500 college students. They concluded, “There are now good theoretical and empirical reasons to expect effects of music lyrics on aggressive behavior to be similar to the well-studied effects of exposure to TV and movie violence and the more recent research efforts on violent video games.”

I could go on with the statistics and all the scary data that has come out of the plethora of research done on this subject but with each new thing I learn I get a little more convinced that I wont want my children anywhere near a video game.

The Business of Media Violence

Violence has always played a role in entertainment but there’s a growing consensus that, in recent years, something about media violence has changed. For one thing, there’s more of it.

Research indicates that media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become much more graphic, much more sexual, and much more sadistic. Explicit pictures of slow-motion bullets exploding from people’s chests, and dead bodies surrounded by pools of blood, are now commonplace fare. The notion of violence as a means of problem solving is reinforced by entertainment in which both villains and heroes resort to violence on a continual basis. The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), which has studied violence in television, movies and music videos for a decade, reports that nearly half of all violence is committed by the “good guys.” Less than 10 per cent of the TV shows, movies and music videos that were analyzed contextualized the violence or explored its human consequences. The violence was simply presented as justifiable, natural and inevitable — the most obvious way to solve the problem.

The Business of Media Violence

Media entertainment is big business: popular culture products are now the United States’ biggest export. No one knows better than the communications industries that children and young people represent a huge market, due to both their own spending power and their influence on family spending decisions. In September 2000, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report revealed what many suspected: U.S. media corporations were routinely ignoring their own rating restrictions and actively marketing violent entertainment to children and teens. In fact, the study showed that 80 per cent of R-rated movies, 70 per cent of restricted video games, and 100 per cent of music with “explicit content” warning labels were being marketed to kids under 17.

The report revealed a number of standard (though illicit) practices for marketing adult media products to kids. These included advertising in publications for adolescents, such as YMTeen and Marvel comics; screening trailers for restricted movies on TV at times when kids are likely to be watching; and recruiting teens and children (sometimes as young as nine) to evaluate story concepts, commercials, trailers and rough cuts—even for R-rated movies. The study also revealed that the film and videogame industries often target children as young as four with toy tie-ins for adult-rated movies and games.

Follow-up reports from the FTC indicate that the film and gaming industries have improved their practices somewhat. However, ads for R-rated movies continue to appear on television shows popular with kids (TV is considered the most important medium for drawing an audience to a film), and the video game industry still advertises games rated M (Mature) in magazines with young readers. The music industry has done little to clean up its act. All five major record labels continue to advertise albums with explicit or violent content on television programs and in magazines that have substantial followings of kids under the age of seventeen.

mediated+violence

One-Sixty-Six

Have you ever learnt a word and then suddenly it appears in the book you’re reading, on a website you happen to scroll across, in a random conversation… and pretty much everywhere?

Well until recently my most memorable example of that happening to me was when I learnt the word “ubiquitous”. Maybe is was because the word actually means “Present, appearing, or found everywhere” but from the moment Professor Aggrey Brown used it in a lecture while I was in the first year of  University, the word showed up literally EVERYWHERE!

Its a word that will forever be etched in my mind but it has now been relegated to 2nd place as most memorable as a new word has snatched the coveted 1st place spot from under it. One-Sixty-Six!

Yup, you read correctly. As simple as it sounds, One-Sixty-Six is now the proud holder of first place. Now you can unknit your brows because I’m going to explain exactly how it all happened.

Here’s a look at One-Sixty-Six’s journey to prominence…

(*aside* if this was a movie there would be a cool effect over the following scene so it looks like an old film or at least a product of someone’s mind :))

So…Work has been getting increasingly demanding and frustrating over the past few months. I watched as all the calm and patience I spent years honing and fine tuning just slowly crash and burn and I got more tired and more easily irritated with each passing day.

Then came the day I just flipped, someone was calling my name on something I knew nothing about and I went Ballistic. When I eventually calmed down I went to the HR assistant, inquired as to whether I could take a week’s vacation and quickly filled out the form. Luckily for me this was the last day of the work week and my supervisor (being one of the persons I had flipped on) was in a “I can do this by myself” mood so he quickly signed off.

With the necessary papers signed I packed up my desk and left work. The weekend flew by but I wasn’t concerned as I could sleep in late on Monday. I was on VACATION baby :D!!

The week off was awesome! I started learning how to drive, I went to the beach, I went to visit my mother, I had an amazing birthday and got very thoughtful gifts… Overall I got a chance to relax and unwind with some of the persons that are nearest and dearest to my heart. I enjoyed myself with not a care in the world.

And then the week was over. Its Saturday morning and while I know jolly riding had come to an end I’m trying to hang on to the positive feeling and the thousand teeth smile that the Amazing week has left me with.

Jokingly I say out loud to no one in particular “I wonder how much weight I gained this week” and hopped onto the scale. A decision I would soon regret!

The Scale screamed at me; “One-Sixty-Six”!!!

I gasped, jumped off and sat to catch my breath! That must be wrong! One-Sixty-Six! Nope!

For the second time I stepped on the scale trying to convince myself that my eyes had played a cruel cruel joke on me earlier. Sadly the scale said the same thing it had before. One-Sixty-Six.

I felt a sharp pain in my stomach, a thousand things ran through my mind. I remembered how I had freaked out when I first realized that I weighed 155 pounds, I remembered how I fell in love with myself and my figure when I got to 160 and all my curves were saying howdydoo to everyone I pass… But now… now that I’m at 166 I don’t know how to feel, I don’t know what to do, All I know is that this is not good.

All I know is that 166 will forever be etched in my mind and in the days to come I would see that number in and on everything that my eyes come across…

One-Sixty-Six

One-Sixty-Six

TO BE CONTINUED!

Toodles,

Sherjei