Killing Monsters:Why Children Need Make Believe Violence - U2 Feedback

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Old 11-10-2008, 07:03 PM   #1
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Killing Monsters:Why Children Need Make Believe Violence

Before the 1980s (or somewhere along that timeline) kids played with toy guns and it was bang bang shoot um' up. Toy guns,plastic swords,knives...it was cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. Cartoons had Porky the Pig blasting away with a shotgun and Bugs Bunny was whacky other toons with a bat.

Then along came The Smurfs and Zero Tolerence. Toy guns got marked red at the muzzle and fewer and fewer parents allowed their children to play with them. Point your index finger at a fellow student in kindergarten and find yourself expelled.

I think we all know the sad events that have occured the past ten to fifteen years.

A good book on this topic and really worth reading:
Amazon.com: Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence: Gerard Jones: Books

What do you think?
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:22 PM   #2
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I've always found violent games such as Grand Theft Auto immensely satisfying for releasing any pent up aggression - and I've never gotten the "these games make people more violent" argument either
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:29 PM   #3
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There is age appropriate violence and there is not. Cartoons and simple games such as cops and robbers are certainly not harmful. A first or second grader playing GTA or some such is a whole different thing I would say.

I don't see the problem with the red dot on toy guns. Especially in an armed society with some really trigger happy folks I see that as a sensible means of differentiation. And, when we as kids were bothered by them we just got rid of 'em.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by partygirlvox View Post
I've always found violent games such as Grand Theft Auto immensely satisfying for releasing any pent up aggression - and I've never gotten the "these games make people more violent" argument either
Yes, this can apply to video games, but the theme in the book is about young childeren (under the age of 12) being allowed to act out this fantasy play and why trying to suppress it is not a good idea.

Vincent Vega,
I agree with the red tips on toy guns. I miswrote that sentence. What I was trying to say was how toy guns became "bad' for children to play in our current society.
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:53 PM   #5
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violent images or toy guns certainly aren't the root of the problem. i grew up watching age-inappropriate movies and playing with toy ak-47s and bb guns. i turned out a-ok. however, i suppose i could be the exception to the rule.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:06 PM   #6
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violent images or toy guns certainly aren't the root of the problem. i grew up watching age-inappropriate movies and playing with toy ak-47s and bb guns. i turned out a-ok. however, i suppose i could be the exception to the rule.
The fact that you, playing with toy guns, turned out alright is one of the themes in the book.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Se7en View Post
violent images or toy guns certainly aren't the root of the problem. i grew up watching age-inappropriate movies and playing with toy ak-47s and bb guns. i turned out a-ok. however, i suppose i could be the exception to the rule.
For me it's the same. Most of my friends in kindergarten already watched Knight Rider and such (my parents couldn't afford a satellite dish, so I could just listen their stories of those shows).
Important for parents, if they allow their children to watch such shows or play games that are for older children and adults, is to observe changes in their children's behaviour.
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Old 11-11-2008, 01:43 AM   #8
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They put the red mark on the toy guns for the benefit of the police.
Manufacturers were making them look extremely real when I was a teenager (late 80's)
I can't imagine what those guns looked like by the time they passed a law about it.
I suppose the legisilation just made it uniform, so there were no loopholes.

Have not read the book but I can get behind this premise, for sure.
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Old 11-11-2008, 02:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post
The fact that you, playing with toy guns, turned out alright is one of the themes in the book.

I do think there is something to the idea that kids--especially boys--just have a kind of compulsion to play at violence. I know I did. My mom wouldn't allow us to have toy guns, so a whiffle bat made for a versatile rifle/machine gun/shotgun and a snorkel or the right shaped stick made an excellent pistol. We loved to play "battle" games--mostly Indians and settlers (we were nerdy enough that our Indians fought against various pioneers, or American soldiers), but also Redcoats vs. Patriots etc. (Like I saw we were history nerds). Mom didn't let us watch anything REALLY violent, but we drank up shows in reruns from the 60s like Daniel Boone and family movies like Disney's the Swiss Family Robinson (the climatic battle between the Robinsons and the pirates is one of my fonder childhood memories) and the Swamp Fox. Our games were pretty innocent really--no gore or heavy bloodshed--but there was definitely that warlust going on.

I don't think I'll be buying toy guns for my son though. If he wants to play war, he can be creative like I was.

As to whether this is all good or bad--I don't know. Iron Horse, you do confound sometimes--somehow I didn't expect to hear you advocating on behalf of ultraviolent games etc. But that's cool. Keeps things interesting I almost think the good or bad question is almost moot since kids will find ways to play violent games regardless of what safegurads we put in place. The reasons why could be debated at length. I could think of several reasons from an evolutionary standpoint and also from a conservative Christian POV. And then there's this guy John Elderidge who in his book Wild at Heart expounds his own ideas about why boys love to play at war. It's kind of "movie theater theology" in my opinion (not to mention vaguely sexist) but interesting.

Fantasy violence is going to be a part of kids lives, period. I do think though that, as others have said, there are limits on what is appropriate for young children. The level of gore and extreme violence and sexuality in a lot whats out there is really inappropriate for kids, in my opinion.

Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Swiss Family Robinson probably aren't so bad though. . .
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Old 11-11-2008, 08:56 AM   #10
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I think there is one major difference that has to be determined, does the violence have a purpose? Is it cops and robbers or G.I.Joe i.e. good vs evil, or is it shooting everything in sight and running over hookers i.e. violence for violence sake. I think this can make a big difference in a child's psyche.

I also think a parent needs to take some time and observe their child at play, especially at games and fantasy such as these to see how their child reacts. One of my good friend's younger brother started playing guns with us when he was of age, there was some growing concern with his parents because he didn't seem to react to it like the other kids. Being a little older even I noticed it. He seemed a little obsessed with it, almost as if he couldn't turn off the fantasy. He grew up having some issues with violence and finally started to straighten up in his mid 20's.
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Old 11-11-2008, 10:56 AM   #11
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/us...ld.html?ref=us

an incredibly unfortunate story. it will be interesting to see if the motive can be deduced.
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Old 11-11-2008, 11:04 AM   #12
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i think play violence is fine so long as there's a clear line between what's pretend and what's not -- so playing Star Wars, or Indiana Jones, or Transformers, or some other clear fantasy is, imho, quite different than having realistic guns, knives, etc. i'd also probably try to casually observe the children playing to see if it's more just action -- running, jumping, shooting, running away, etc. -- or if there are elements of sadism that's creeping into the play itself.

Quote:
and family movies like Disney's the Swiss Family Robinson (the climatic battle between the Robinsons and the pirates is one of my fonder childhood memories)

omg, have you seen this in recent years?

it's hilariously racist and sexist.
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:40 PM   #13
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He seemed a little obsessed with it, almost as if he couldn't turn off the fantasy. He grew up having some issues with violence and finally started to straighten up in his mid 20's.
I'd also point out that the play needn't be a 'war game' or involve weapons at all to be problematic (or unproblematic, yet nonetheless fundamentally about expressing aggression). I think most of us can probably recall a couple instances from childhood where the make-believe turned creepy, another kid started introducing unnerving ideas into it, and suddenly you felt uncomfortable and wanted to stop or leave. Just because it's, say, a group of cute little girls playing with dolls doesn't mean you don't need to be looking in on the action from time to time and talking to them occasionally about the make-believe, what the scenarios are about and why they enjoy them (or don't). I think this book's author (to judge from the reviews) is right to emphasize that play shouldn't be read literally based on what the objects and general scenario type involved might suggest to an adult, but that extends to not assuming certain fantasy types are automatically puppies'n'kittens A-OK, as well as to not reflexively panicking at other types because they involve "guns" or "swords."
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:43 PM   #14
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Oh, I agree completely.
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:50 PM   #15
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Cartoons had Porky the Pig blasting away with a shotgun
I don't remember Porky Pig with a shotgun. I think you might mean Elmer Fudd, but I'm not gonna put words in your mouth.
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