Keys to media literacy in combating violence that children face
The dystopian South Korean series Squid Game has become Netflix’s most watched television series, but there are increasing calls to discourage children from watching it in order to prevent them from emulating their violent challenges.
However, veteran broadcaster Peppi Azzopardi believes the solution lies in education and not in banning octopus games or other violent content that children are exposed to.
On Andrew Azzopardi’s talk show on 103 Malta’s Heart, the former Xarabank host said, “The solution is not to stop children from seeing something, but to prepare them to read and interpret it.”
Emphasizing the importance of introducing media literacy into the school curriculum, Azzopardi said: “We have to teach children to be critical, not to believe everything they are told, to understand the war …”
He added that there is a danger when people call for boycotts or condemn violent series or games because they add to their appeal.
Azzopardi argued that such content has desensitized violence, saying, “I am concerned about the normalization of violence,” which could lead to real-life society being belittled and immune to violence.
Artificial intelligence expert Alexei Dingli shared Azzopardi’s views. The former Valletta Mayor said “we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of children” to understand and recognize what they are watching on TV or online.
He said previous generations were also exposed to violence and insisted that the problem was not solely due to parenting as children were exposed to all sorts of content on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and other apps.
“The problem is not just that children see things they shouldn’t, because it is up to parents to set boundaries and raise them. The problem lies in content that they are accidentally exposed to … parents cannot control such cases. “
He added that the most worrying aspect was the lack of education, saying that children are more than able to distinguish between fact and fiction.
Counselor Joseph Pellicano agreed with the need to empower children, but argued that children need adults to process and understand what they see on TV or online.
Recently, several schools in Malta urged parents to prevent their children from watching the octopus game, as students at the age of five allegedly copied the violent games from the series.
Pellicano acknowledged that Netflix, YouTube and other apps are an integral part of everyday life, saying, “The more children are exposed to violence, the more likely they are to become immune to it.”
Pellicano added that “certain media are harmful” and shifted responsibility to parents who leave their children unsupervised or, in some cases, watch violent content with children.
When asked if exposure to violence at a young age will make future generations more violent, Pellicano said studies show that young boys exposed to violence are 50% more likely to engage in domestic violence against their partners in adulthood.
Neuropsychiatrist and academic Kristina Bettenzana said research on the long-term effects of violent content on children was inconclusive and ongoing, but said that people are influenced by what they see and see, but by the magnitude of the effects
However, Bettenzana added that exposure to violence “has different effects on sleep patterns, relationships, and socialization. It’s not just about violence, it also affects other aspects of children’s lives. “
Check out the full discussion below: