In my view
Garbage in...garbage out
Playing a dangerous game- ‘Learning to kill’
By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: Garbage in...garbage out. What goes in through a child’s eyes and ears will definitely have an effect on how he/she thinks, act and react. “I wanna blow his head off”, 8-year-old Mohammed bravely charged, as he pursues his brother with a toy gun in show of strength and prowess. Letting your kids play with toy guns is desensitizing the kids to violence and trivializing the effects of violence. Some sociologists have argued that children that spend more time playing with toy guns tend to be more aggressive. Some children, especially boys, are more susceptible to these bad effects than others.
The purpose of play is to learn and have fun and not to hurt. Like it or not, you are a product of what you watch and listen to. And that does include games. Poverty, gangs, drugs, availability of guns, child abuse, family breakdown constitute to the major cause of violence in the society, but adding these factors to -playing with toy guns and media violence could trigger an explosion of violent crime in the society.
In this ugly trend, kids are learning violence—and violence is a learned skill. Children learn a lot of things through play. Play is the best method that a child uses to learn about the world around us and to develop new skills. Parents should sit back and imagine what a child will learn by playing with toy guns. Children love to play with toy guns, because they can pretend to be super heroes especially in this volatile Middle East region where the quest for martyrdom is on the surge.
Not only that dangerous play can hurt a child mentally, the toy gun can even hurt him physically. There are all sorts of toy guns out there that throw different objects, from small darts to balls. Some of them are dangerous. A child can point the toy gun towards his or another person’s eye, resulting in an unfortunate accident. Parents should avoid letting their child play with toy guns and limit their kids’ access to movies and computer games that promote violence. It is better to buy educational computer games, which will be both fun and useful. I would be far more concerned about parents preaching tolerance for diversity and resolving conflict through non-violent means than I would about his occasional fantasy gunplay. Let us express and model your values regarding getting along with others.
As a substitute to these dangerous games, kids can be exposed to quality music. They need to learn to appreciate more subtle kinds of sounds and rhythms. Taking a child out - to the zoo, the aquarium, to museums, to concerts, on ferry boat rides, on walks in the parks will lighten the child’s memory. Simple things like going to the post office or grocery store is how child learns how life works. Play with their kids - active games with running, ball-throwing, swimming outside, and board games, arts and crafts projects. Think up puzzles, trivia questions, trick questions and qualitative jokes. We are steering our kids towards violence as we stock their shelves with toy weapons like handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns etc. Let our son’s birthday gifts change from toy guns to educative games as we gear towards making the world a better place.