09/22/07 — Desensitized: Pop culture violence hides the consequences

View Archive

Desensitized: Pop culture violence hides the consequences

For decades, parents have complained about violence on television and in music and its effect on young people.

A steady diet of this sort of imagery can do nothing but warp minds, their argument has always been.

And those who are of the younger persuasion have always rejected their views, claiming that depictions of violence do not necessarily lead to a young person picking up a gun or making some other deadly choice.

But now as the nation tries to figure out why yet another gunman took to a college campus to shoot innocent students, there might be something to consider.

Violence on television these days is rampant and prolific. You cannot watch a show on network television without some heinous act in the spotlight somewhere. And while there are often consequences depicted for choosing violence, these shows rarely show the real chances of murder, serious injury or other results of being caught in a hail of bullets.

So what does that mean? For some young people, they become desensitized to violence and see shootouts as their version of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. They do not get that this is dangerous and that the chances that you will be maimed or killed are exponential. After all, how rarely do the good guys really get shot?

The same is true for video games. If when your character dies in a video game he is resurrected immediately with a restart, do you really understand that street fighting is a risk that could end in serious injury or death? Maybe or maybe not.

Youths are already predisposed to the “it will never happen to me” view. If they weren’t, there would never again be a teenage drunken driver once one of those movies on a real-life case was shown. And don’t forget all the young people injured because they tried to imitate the stunts on the MTV show “Jackass.”

So, what’s the solution? Close our children up and let them only watch “Sesame Street” until they are 18?

Keeping children safe and out of lives of violence begins at home with parents who understand that they are the true remote controls when it comes to what their children see and hear. They should be the ones to know better, to reject programs and songs that are inappropriate.

Violent programs and video games are not meant for small children or even young preteens. And when they are given to a young person, they must be accompanied by a discussion of the difference between real life and fantasy.

Censorship is still not the best choice for protecting our children. Responsible parents are.

Published in Editorials on September 22, 2007 11:32 PM