I consider myself extremely lucky to have such an amazing guest post on my blog. This informative article was written by Delica Castaneda: Attachment parenting, baby-wearing, natural immunity advocate, lactivist, Christian, homeschooling, mother to four intelligent, independent children. She has informally studied health for 20+ years with the last 10 focusing on Classical and Constitutional Homeopathy and works as health adviser and advocate to family and friends. In her free time she enjoys singing, spending time with her family and writing. Without further ado, here is the article:
Are Your Children Sheltered or Exposed?
Have you ever been accused of sheltering your children? I have. I always wanted to have caring, sensitive children, so it made sense to avoid violent movies, video games and internet material.
But when my friends questioned me, I wondered if maybe I should allow some inappropriate material so that when they had a sleepover they wouldn’t be too shocked if they saw something. Even though that didn’t even seem logical. If my child saw something at a sleepover, then we could discuss it. Why plan for it? Maybe the children my children hang with won’t watch inappropriate material. Either way it becomes an issue. How important is it? Like many other moms, I did some research on the effects of violent images on the child’s brain.
It’s a well-known fact that children are impressionable. During the last several years, research was done by the National institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, having mapped the brains of nearly one thousand healthy children between the ages of three and eighteen. This research states that, Neuroscientists used to think that the billions of neurons in the adolescent brain were as fully matured as the adult brain. But the neural circuitry or hardware, it turns out, isn’t completely installed in most people until their early twenties. When a young person is fully grown, their brain is not. Dramatic mood swings are just the beginning.
So what happens when we play a video game? If the game contains violence we are getting lots of practice at and exposure to the material just as if the participation was real. The mind and body react as if it is real. And according to scientific evidence it becomes stored as a memory in the cells just as if we had actually engaged in it, in reality. This is why so many coaches and teachers now have their athletes and performers imagine or meditate on a great performance. The improvement is so dramatic. It can be as much as 70%. It depends on how much you meditate on it. This is impact enough whether negative or positive, but that’s how an adult is affected. The child not only has this influence, but research shows there is much more going on in their brain. Certain systems of the brain are in a state of high-powered rapid development during adolescence. Decision-making and moral judgments come from this part of the brain. Studies show that this (the prefrontal cortex) is the seat of civilization and helps to cope with these fast-paced images (Karl Pribram, director of the Center for Brain Research and Informational Science at Radford University in Virginia). Pribram says it is in charge of executive functions. These include the brain’s ability to handle ambiguous information, to coordinate signals in different regions of the brain and to tamp down or prolong emotions generated in the limbic sytem. With their reasoning power undeveloped, add to that the overload of images, and it is difficult to impossible for a child to determine right from wrong and respond to the world in a rational way. The amount that our children are exposed to the media and the amount they can cope with and process or store in their memory, and the effect on right decision processes mostly depends on us, as parents and what we allow.
According to Grossman psychologist who formerly taught the psychology of war at west point, today’s modern video games are even more effective in causing a person to overcome the aversion to shooting (something the U.S. Military has been working on since world war II). He states, the more realistic touches in video games help blur the boundary between fantasy and reality, They use increasingly realistic sounds, moves, screams, lots of blood, etc,. And even the recoil of a heavy rifle. (Disconnected Generation, 2000, McDowell)
The inevitable outcome of the barrage of negative images on the new generation is apparent every time you turn the news on or read the newspaper. Just a few months ago, a 14-year-old boy got tired of the bullying he had endured and committed suicide in front of his perpetrators as they were getting out of school. My son went to this same school just last year, which is two blocks away from our house. He recognized the boy and said he had seen him get teased. Any one of us could name several more shootings both recent and close to us. I will name one more, not so recent. Simply because it was directly related to playing violent video games. This one happened several years ago in Paducah, KY. Fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of teenagers circled in prayer. He shot eight people, five of them in the head or neck. Many video games give bonus points for head shots.
The desensitized masses can read these chilling headlines and go back to their chicken sandwiches without notice of the children playing video games in the next room. While the moms with kids who are backward and sheltered can visit the family who lost their fourteen-year-old son to suicide and lend comfort and love (sensitivity). Or at least talk with their kids about making the world a better place. How do we do that? What do we tell them about why they can’t watch the next ‘Twilight’ movie? How about the truth? Tell them the truth about the movies and games they want to see. For instance, the Twilight series teaches kids it’s okay to explore the dark side and that evil is exciting and feels good. One eight-year-old girl approached one of the actors in the series and asked him to bite her so she could become a vampire too. Even the music in this movie was actually carefully selected to put the viewer into a suicidal state faster than anything else you can listen to. How do we reason with our children about why we don’t participate? Tell them that these images open doors to negative energy that attaches itself to the mind. It can take a miracle to break off this energy and if it doesn’t make you suicidal at the very least it directly impacts the person’s quality of life and sensitivity toward others. Even if seemingly harmless, at the rate we are going, it is inevitable that desensitization must increase with each generation. With the ultimate destruction of the fabric of the soul, and eventually a society. The truth is children trust their parents to protect them from such danger and more often than not, will respect your thoughts and judgments.
Don’t shelter your children from the facts. And perhaps the next time you have a choice between a violent movie and family movie, make the better choice. Being sensitive to your child is essential. You will not only earn their respect and love, they will have a sound mind and a chance at a sound generation. You will be teaching them to continue the fight to restore a desensitized world and ultimately create a better place for your children, as well as the future generations.