We are one of the few adult couples in the theater and ready to embrace yet another cultural phenomenon, The Hunger Games.
“Am I too old for this film?” I think looking around at the sprawled, giggling, Facebooking teens surrounding us. Too late. It grows dark, and I am instantly engrossed in the film.
The story line and design are amazing, and I find myself rooting for the heroine. But as the film rages on and becomes more graphic with violence, I wonder about all those teens watching.
How are they being impacted? Later, I realized they probably were not as impacted as me. Youth are exposed to constant violence based on their regular exposure to video games, music videos, TV shows, and even the news. It would seem youth are almost immune to it.
On the other hand, I challenge those who believe children are not being impacted by this violence. I am not saying a child who watches a violent show is going to hurt someone else, but research shows that images we see do impact the psyche and brain development.
I have seen many children coming to therapy with problems of nightmares, and after exploring what they are playing and watching, violence is often present. When eliminated, children can have improved sleep. I would encourage all parents to be mindful of what their children are watching, playing, and listening to.
It is up to parents to decide what is age appropriate and take a stand for those things impacting their children in a negative way. It can feel awkward for parents to take away things they once allowed their children to do and see. I challenge parents to explore the many wonderful forms of media not involving violence and introduce children to more peaceful forms of entertainment.
I know parents’ reach with teens is only so far, and I would encourage parents of teens to talk about what they are being exposed to and keep teens grounded in reality through discussing how to problem solve and enjoy life without violence.