Friday, October 23, 2009

INA is Right to Speak Out Against Dante's Inferno

"Bad Nanny" is Bad Image for Nannies

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter supports the International Nanny Association (INA) for speaking out against the new violent video game, Dante's Inferno which features a baby killing achievement, or trophy, called "Bad Nanny." The "Bad Nanny" achievement requires gamers to kill 1,000 un-baptized children.

The INA said:
"INA feels this video game component of Dante's Inferno was created out of poor taste and bad judgment. INA is opposed to video games that promote and encourage players to "kill" babies, even in fantasy play. It is our opinion that this type of play may promote violence towards children. The name of the trophy or achievement, "Bad Nanny," is offensive to our association in that we strive to promote and educate the public regarding the selfless work nannies do to support families by providing quality in-home childcare."

After speaking out against this violent game some authors disagree with the INA saying the babies are clearly demonic creatures in the game.

But, that argument still does not address the fact that the video game is violent and may have a negative influence on players.

It is obvious why the non-profit childcare organization that works to encourage the professionalism of nannies cannot support such a violent video game.

Despite the dozens of authors who write against the INA for speaking out, there are hundreds more articles and clinical studies proving the adverse effect violent video games on children. Both violence in the media and video games are blamed for many problems in raising children today. There is no doubt that much media has a negative influence on children.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports:
"Exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, represents a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents. Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. Pediatricians should assess their patients' level of media exposure and intervene on media-related health risks. Pediatricians and other child health care providers can advocate for a safer media environment for children by encouraging media literacy, more thoughtful and proactive use of media by children and their parents, more responsible portrayal of violence by media producers, and more useful and effective media ratings."

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports, "Psychological research confirms that violent video games can increase children's aggression, but that parents moderate the negative effects."

The APA reports:
"Fifty years' of research on violent television and movies has shown that there are several negative effects of watching such fare (click here to see article). Because video games are a newer medium, there is less research on them than there is on TV and movies.

However, studies by psychologists...indicate it is likely that violent video games may have even stronger effects on children's aggression because (1) the games are highly engaging and interactive, (2) the games reward violent behavior, and because (3) children repeat these behaviors over and over as they play (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Psychologists know that each of these help learning - active involvement improves learning, rewards increase learning, and repeating something over and over increases learning.

Drs. Anderson and Gentile's research shows that children are spending increasing amounts of time playing video games - 13 hours per week for boys, on average, and 5 hours per week for girls. A 2001 content analyses by the research organization Children Now shows that a majority of video games include violence, about half of which would result in serious injuries or death in the 'real' world. Children often say their favorite video games are violent. What is the result of all this video game mayhem?

Dr. Anderson and colleagues have shown that playing a lot of violent video games is related to having more aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Furthermore, playing violent games is also related to children being less willing to be caring and helpful towards their peers. Importantly, research has shown that these effects happen just as much for non-aggressive children as they do for children who already have aggressive tendencies (Anderson et al., under review; Gentile et al., 2004).

Parents have an important role to play. Psychologists have found that when parents limit the amount of time as well as the types of games their children play, children are less likely to show aggressive behaviors (Anderson et al., under review; Gentile et al., 2004).

Other research suggests that active parental involvement in children's media usage-including discussing the inappropriateness of violent solutions to real life conflicts, reducing time spent on violent media, and generating alternative nonviolent solutions to problems-all can reduce the impact of media violence on children and youth (Anderson et al., 2003)."

The National Institute on Media on the Family lists that some of the negatives of violent video games include:
  • Practicing violent acts may contribute more to aggressive behavior than passive television watching.

  • Studies do find a relationship between violent television watching and behavior.

  • Women are often portrayed as weaker characters that are helpless or sexually provocative.

  • Game environments are often based on plots of violence, aggression and gender bias.

  • Many games only offer an arena of weapons, killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting.

  • Playing violent video games may be related to aggressive behavior (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004).

  • Questions have been raised about early exposure to violent video games.

  • Games can confuse reality and fantasy.

  • In many violent games, players must become more violent to win.

  • In "1st person" violent video games the player may be more affected because he or she controls the game and experiences the action through the eyes of his or her character.

  • Academic achievement may be negatively related to over-all time spent playing video games. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004)

Some other organizations that should support the INA include:

1.Center for Media Literacy, (CML). The CML is a not-for-profit organization to inspire independent thinking and foster critical analysis of the powerful influence of the media.

2. The Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to understanding and responding to the effects of media on the physical, mental, and social health of children through research, production, and education.

American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

4. National Institute on Media on the Family says, "more and more kids are shaped by a media culture that promotes more, easy, fast, fun, violence and disrespect." Since 1996, the National Institute on Media and the Family has worked tirelessly to help parents and communities “watch what our kids watch.” The National Institute on Media and the Family is the world's leading and most respected research-based organization on the positive and harmful effects of media on children and youth.

If you work as a nanny do you think that violence in the media effects children?