I recently babysat a 9-year-old boy who was an absolute terror. He whined. He rough-housed. He went out of his way to flatulate in my presence.
Boys will be boys, but one particular behavioral tendency really got me thinking. This boy was exceptionally violent.
I didn’t fully realize it until I watched him play his computer games where he would kill off bad guys as emotionlessly as if he were knocking down bowling pins. It’s no wonder this kid had no problem jumping on me or trying to tackle me. He’s surrounded by violent influences, and the violent tendencies that result aren’t entirely his fault.
If you look at popular video games and movies, many have blood, gore and gratuitous violence. The objective of games like Halo and Call of Duty is to kill. They take violence and turn it into recreation.
Movies are no better. Just over a week ago we celebrated Halloween, where violent movies are a dime a dozen. Movies with terrifying and grusome images become a social event.
It’s possible that I’m just a scaredy-cat and that these movies are appropriate for adult audiences, but I see no reason for children to see such smut.
You can explain to a kid that those images aren’t real, but why let them have those images in their mind in the first place?
I was never allowed to watch PG-13 movies when I was a kid, and I was never allowed to watch rated R movies, even when I was old enough to see them in theaters.
At the time, I would get frustrated because I couldn’t be a part of the conversation at school when my friends would talk about the “grown-up” movies. I remember when my cousin told me how cool Jaws was, and I was jealous that I had not seen it. Now, I’m grateful.
I’m happy that I’m not desensitized to violence. I sometimes get teased a bit for flinching and covering my eyes in action movies or horror flicks, but I’d rather flinch because it shows that I’m still attune to the pain and suffering of others.
When we become desensitized to violence, we lose part of our ability to connect with other people. We fail to see the humanity in the person affected by the violence, and instead, we see only objects used to further our entertainment.
I worry about a generation that grows up thinking killing is entertaining. If killing the bad guys in the video games effectively solves the problem, then it stands to reason that problems could be settled similarly in real life.
Our world is so full of conflict. How will we be able to find peace in a world where children are indoctrinated in violence?
We need to take a step back and analyze the images being seen by youths today. Instead of letting kids get away with playing or watching whatever will sufficiently shut them up for a few hours, we should be fostering their growing minds by encouraging constructive activities like drawing or reading. Then I might actually enjoy babysitting.