Video Games and TV: Do They Make Kids Smarter?
An author makes a case that popular culture is beneficial for the mind.
Evaluating Video Games for Kids continued...
Broken homes, exposure to violence, video games, and TV do not create
violent children, he says. According to Butterworth, dysfunctional parenting,
children with little guilt, and accessibility to firearms with little parental
supervision can create violent children.
"Most children who commit violent crime show an early combination of
personality and family factors that include having trouble getting along with
playmates in preschool," Butterworth says. "By second or third grade
they're doing poorly in school, and have few friends. By the age of 10 they're
picking fights and getting labeled by their peers as social outcasts."
What's more "they typically come from families where parents are poor at
disciplining because they are either indifferent, neglectful, too coercive or
they use harsh physical punishment with little love."
The Other Side of the Fence
"The disservice is that [Johnson's] message is confusing people,"
says Joanne Cantor, PhD, professor emerita of communication arts at the
University of Wisconsin, Madison, and author of the books Mommy, I'm
Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do to Protect
Them and Teddy's TV Troubles.
"When parents hear this and know that their kids like the stuff, they
are more likely to say 'some people think it's good, so maybe it's not so
bad,'" she says. But it is.
"There is also evidence that some people have a better chance to control
their weight if they smoke, but at what cost?" she quips. "If you have
to take content you know is harmful to children to get these benefits, then
they are not benefits."
Parents should look at ratings in advance and get a description of what a
game, TV show or movie is like before they let their kids see it, she says.
"Talk to other parents and if necessary, play the game," she says.
"The thing about video games is that they all start at lower levels and you
have to play for hours to get to a bad part and parents should know that
We have to recognize that our children are growing up in a more
sophisticated world, for better or for worse. How we help guide them through it
remains the challenge.