Television and video games no doubt have influence on children who view and play them either positively or negatively. It is also not in doubt that teens, these days, have become addicted to the television screens and video game pads.
Cultivation theorists have argued that television has longterm effects which are small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant. Cultivation theory in its most basic form, suggests that television is responsible for shaping, or cultivating viewers conceptions of social reality.
Likewise television, video games as well, shapes the minds of its users especially the heavy users of these gadgets. Most kids these days plug into the world of television before they enter school, hence, forming a part of their lives before they are teens.
Notwithstanding, television and video games have their good sides as they can be entertaining and educational. They expose the kids to new worlds and give them the chance to explore and learn about different cultures and ideas. Video games also have the potentials of building the intellects of the kids by sharpening their minds and brains which could have positive effects on them.
However, the reverse is usually the case as these kids are likely to learn things that parents don’t want them to know. Television and video games can affect the child’s health, behaviour and academics in a negative way, hence, the need for parents to censor whatever the child views.
Most violent and sexual activities displayed by children are said to be gotten from television programmes, cartoons and video games. The recent case of an 8-year-old boy who shot his grandmother after playing a violent video game “Grand Theft Auto IV”, is an example of the effect of violent video games on children.
Another case of violence is that of Daniel Petric, who killed his mother and shot his father while laying blames on the violent video game “Halo 3”, which he claimed to being addicted to.
Aside violence, there has been occurrences of incest, rape and molestation by teens after viewing programmes not meant for their age. Also, a recent case is that of a 17-year-old boy who raped his 4-year-old sister after viewing an x-rated programme. These and many more are examples of the negative influence television contents and video games have on children and teens.
Experts have said that children love watching television and games, but too much of it during developmental years can have a significant negative impact on them; and this has been proven to be true.
Keen observers warned that parents trying to get their kids’ attention or keeping them focused at home and in the classroom should try to limit their television viewing and video game play as psychologists have discovered that both television and video games are associated with increased attention problem in youths especially teens.
Mrs. Agodi Ifeoma, a teacher in Dan Hope Nursery/Primary School, Ketu said: “As a mother, I’ll first begin with my son; most times when I watch him play with his mates and with the type of tactics he displays, it is really horrible. Most of these tactics, he gets them from the television, especially cartoons like Batman and the likes. He would always want to practice what he sees.
“You know children believe in sight than hearing, so when they view these horror movies and cartoons they would want to show off to their mates what they have learnt. There was a time a man walked up to me while I was teaching and said he would want us to bring in sex education into the school’s curriculum. While discussing with the school’s proprietress, the man said that he caught a little girl and boy practicing some sexual moves on each other which they said they learnt from a movie.
“Although our movies are usually rated but most Nigerians disregard it and after these little ones watch them, it affects them physically and academically. However, our educational syllabi contain subjects such as moral instruction to teach the children some basics in morals, like what to do and what not to, even their mode of dressing.
“We as teachers are trying our best as we always call the attention of the parents whose child is seen displaying some inappropriate behaviour. Parents as well should know the kind of movie they leave at home. Stopping them from watching films or playing games is not enough because when you are not around they could still slot it in. Rather, to be on the safe side, buy them educative films and also educate them, in that way they will become better children and be of good to the society.”
Edwin Okon, a 14-year-old boy said “I love playing video games but you know horror and action games like “vice city” and “San Andres” are usually very interesting to play than the rest.
“I don’t usually allow my young ones to sit with me while playing them so that they will not start practicing it. Although I am a little bit addicted to playing video games but I still squeeze out time to read a little which is affecting my studies.
“I rarely watch movies; if at all I do, it has to be epic movies like “Legend of the seeker” or “Merlin”. I do save some money to go and play games outside if there is no light but I make sure that my parents do not find out.”
Also, Pastor (Mrs.) Peace Nze of Watchman Charismatic Revival Renewal said, “Most of these movies and video games affect the children mentally. You will find out that in most homes, the children watch Africa Magic from morning to night disregarding their books and home works.
“Game playing is even a minor issue because most of the awkward behaviours of the children are gotten from the television which gives their parents headache. Most of them engage themselves watching blue films and no longer burn midnight candles like we used to. They now prefer attending lessons.
“In my home, I train my children to be very obedient and make sure I buy only Christian movies to also instill the fear of God in them. I put on the television for them only on Saturdays, you know, what you watch is who you are.
Another teacher at Helpers International School, Satellite Town, Mrs. Fidelia O. Anucha, while speaking on the issue said “Our Nollywood movies though censored are the cause of most of the sensual acts we see these kids displaying. Like the case of one of one former student, this very little boy loves sitting beside girls in his class only for him to put his hands into the girl’s panties while lessons are going on. He even does it to his twin sister to our amazement. After flogging him to no avail, we had to invite his mother over.
“There was another student who indulged in kissing any male around her even in class. Funny enough, the very day we invited her parents over, they kissed in the presence of the little children in class. That was how we knew that the problem must come from her parents.
“There is also a mother of one of my pupils who usually dresses her little girl in miniskirts and open dresses whether in hot or cold seasons, which is not right.
“Aside video games and television, parents are also responsible for most of the way the children behave.
“Coming to violence, in class you notice how these kids will fold their books and use it to shoot at themselves. There was this story of a son of a naval officer who took his father’s gun and shot his younger brother, luckily the bullet only brushed past his skin.
Cartoons like Ben 10 and Avatar usually leave the kids with skills they want to exhibit. For instance, there is this student of mine by name, Okoye Chidubem, he was practicing how to fly like Avatar and broke his arm in the process.
“Another one, Chidiogo, a girl, jumped from a two-storey building trying to practice what she had learnt from cartoons.
“My advice to parents is that they should curtail the time the children spend watching TV and playing games; and also monitor them especially late night movies. You would even notice that when these kids watch some scenes like the male, they start getting close to any female around them even their mothers.”