Mar 26

Television didn’t invent violence

SmashFace

In one of my articles from last year on Dad.ie, I mentioned one of the problems even the most responsible parent has with TV shows that may not be age-appropriate (or even appropriate in any way ever) – we can pick and choose what our children watch but we can’t really shield them from what other children are watching.

Since writing that article, my once-little Daisy has moved up to ‘big school’ and when that happened there was a pretty big explosion in violent expression. Not actions for the most part, but definitely words. Now kids are kids and they aren’t always nice to other kids. But you know the way big content producers make sure children know the brand and the elements unique to their product? Well, the side effect of that is that it often makes violent influences pretty easy to track.

Like the lightsaber example in my article, this isn’t just kids exploring violence as part of being kids. There are often sources, influences, inspirations. A huge amount of action shows for kids older than my girls, for example, don’t just show violence as an acceptable solution, they make it the solution of heroes. The way of champions.

It’s what the good guys do.

But I guess I do need to face one thing: TV didn’t invent violence. It’s obvious, I know, but important to point out. Just because studies show a relationship between viewing violent television and aggression (and they do), that doesn’t mean television can be a scapegoat for all the evils of the world. Same with music, or videogames or Ozzy or Lionel Ritchie or anything else.

The Vikings didn’t watch Power Rangers.

The Spanish Inquisition didn’t listen to Judas Priest.

The Huns didn’t play Grand Theft Auto.

They discovered violence all by themselves.

.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t aim for better, right?

That our biggest threat is still ourselves, that people inflict pain and death on other people around the world all the time bugs the hell out of me. It is not something we should just take for granted. Not something we should accept. Look at the amazing things we can do and how far we have come already. We’re pretty fantastic in so many ways, and can do so much better.

Unfortunately, as the Vikings, Spanish Inquisition and Huns have shown us, removing television violence isn’t going to solve the world’s ills. I wish it were that simple. But we do know people learn from the television they watch as children. So, as an idea, how about this – let’s not make it worse. Positive messages, showing alternatives to violence, reinforcing how amazing we all are and that, as it happens, not everyone is out to get you, may go some way (even a very tiny way) to eventually leading to a time when we’re all just good to each other.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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