published in Tri-City News, October 1,2000
the entertainment industry teaching our kids to be killers?
Grossman would have you believe so. The crusading US army
veteran told a Surrey audience last weekend violence in
movies, TV and video games is desensitizing children to
the brutality of violence, even training them in the mechanics
makes his points with force and flair, even if they rely
more on gut feeling than on facts. It's virtually impossible
to prove a link between a kid watching shootings on TV,
then later taking a gun to school.
gut feeling, however, is inescapable: children cannot be
benefiting from a diet of gory, violent imagery. The US
surgeon-general and American Medical Association are persuaded,
both pronouncing media violence as unfit for consumption
question then, of course, is what to do about it.
recommends education (of consumers), legislation (regulating
the shows or products) and litigation (suing the makers
of the most violent video games).
first is obvious. Parents need to know what their kids are
watching, or playing on the computer, and act accordingly.
how do you ban violence from movies and TV? The industry
would scream censorship, and with good reason. Meanwhile,
a film ratings system is already in place, although perhaps
it should be stricter.
games are another matter. Their interactive, often extremely
gory and increasingly realistic nature make them at least
as inappropriate for young kids as any violent movie. Yet
in a conflict of interest of absurd proportions, the games
industry has set up its own "ratings" board for
its products. Unsurprisingly, the most severe rating is
usually a mere "Mature," and as Grossman correctly
points out, such a rating does nothing but lure kids to
buy the product.
BC government has the right idea in developing a classification
system for these games. If it's not in place when the BC
Liberals likely take over next year, the new government
should ensure it is completed. The Canadian and US federal
governments should follow suit.
controls on violent entertainment, though likely to prove
complex and incremental, are needed.