We often get emails from people insisting that…
…violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children
…young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Therefore they don’t affect them.
Unfortunately (for our kids) they are dead wrong on both points. It has been proven in a multitude of studies conducted over the last few years that violent images in video games, movies, and TV are causing an increase in violence among children.
These claims were made in a press release July 26, 2000 by four of the most respected health groups in the world: The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychological Association. They stated further that the Surgeon General’s office and the National Institute of Mental Health have done over 1,000 studies and they all point to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior. The effects on our children are measurable, long lasting, and can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life in the following ways:
– Children who watch violent episodes are more likely to see violence as a way to solve conflicts. (They assume violence is normal behavior.)
– Watching entertainment violence can desensitize a child toward violence in real life. (They are less likely to help people being victimized.)
– Episodes of violence in entertainment media send the perception that the world is a violent place. (This can increase a child’s fear of becoming a victim of violence and they act more self-protective and mistrust others.)
– Watching entertainment violence may lead to real-life violence. (They are more predisposed to grow up with violent tendencies than kids not exposed.)
Research on the influence of video games is not as thorough at this time but preliminary studies show the impact of these interactive games may be significantly more severe than the harm done by television, movies, or music combined. It is safe to assume that the influence of video games is at least as great as the influence of movies, television programs, and videos.
The Bible warns us that if we “entertain” ourselves with the empty philosophies of this world, it will have a negative effect on our spiritual lives:
“Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thoughts and ideas instead of on what Christ has said.”
Are you allowing the empty philosophies of today’s entertainment to undermine your faith in Jesus and the joy of your salvation? We know that violent entertainment is not the sole cause of kid’s problems. Anti-social attitudes, violence, family breakdown, peer influences, and thousands other things can influence kids down the wrong road. We also know that only one thing can lead them to a life of peace and joy? Jesus Christ.
How can we protect our children from these negative influences and encourage spiritual growth?
1. Pray for your children. It can have a powerful influence. (James 5:16)
2. Limit the amount of time your child watches TV or plays video games.
3. Set appropriate guidelines for acceptable entertainment for your family.
4. Watch TV and play video games with your children. Become aware of what they are watching and listening to. Help your children evaluate their programs, songs, and movies in light of God’s Word. This can be a golden opportunity to communicate biblical values.
5. Plan your viewing in advance so that you can avoid shows and games with excessive violence or objectionable content.
6. Did we mention that prayer could have a powerful influence?
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, violence in the media is having a negative influence on society. Let this knowledge remind you to keep your guard up. It is the parents responsibility to set proper entertainment guidelines in the home. If you haven’t, don’t be surprised by your child’s belligerent behavior. Who is teaching your child, you or today’s entertainment media?
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