For the past three summers I have worked at a day camp at a private school in my hometown. I was given a great opportunity to work with children aged 3 to 9 of all characters, shapes, sizes and attitudes. One of the main rules at the Montessori school is no weapons, weapon noises, or weapon references were allowed while at school. My original instinct was that most of these young children would have no idea what a weapon even looked like, let alone how or why to use one, but through my experience I have observed that it is common for a child as young as 3 years old to have more knowledge on violent weapons than I expected.
Throughout my three years as one of the main administrators at the Montessori school, I came across many incidents that involve violent activity. Whether it was verbal or imaginary weapon use, it always amazed me that despite being so young, they were very educated on weapons and violence in general. I realize that children today have easy access to numerous sources, such as cartoons, comics, and the worst culprit of today’s generation, video games, through which they can learn about violence. I guess I never realized how common and normal it is for average families to own a video game consol. When I was younger, it was the norm for families with young boys to own video games, which usually consisted of games for racing cars and the Super Mario Brothers. Today however, video games are used by both genders and are overall extremely more violent; therefore, children have easier access to being influenced by violence. According to theAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “children exposed to violence have shown that they can become ‘immune’ or numb to the horror of violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior with greater exposure to violence” (AACAP, 2006). This supports George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.
I believe the effect video games have on young children supports Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory, expanding the theory further than the effects of television shows. It is amazing how vulnerable children are and through the massive amounts of violence I have witnessed, while teaching at the Montessori school, even though they think they are being playful, is mind-boggling. Hopefully the younger generations can learn about this theory and realize how influenced we can be, without even realizing it.
1. Children and Video Games: Playing with Violence. (2006, July). AACAP. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_video_games_playing_with_violence.
2. Griffin, E. (2008). Communication: A first look at communication theory (7thed.) Boston: McGraw-Hill