Video games are making children more violent and aggressive, say union at Manchester conference

By John McDougall

Video games are making children more violent and aggressive, a teaching union suggested at a Manchester conference this week.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) claim the potentially addictive nature of violent video games can blur the line between fantasy and reality, also leading to social exclusion, obesity and living sedentary lives.  

The statement was made at ATL’s annual conference, held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex over April 2-4.

Alison Sherratt, junior vice-president of the ATL, said: “The games encourage aggressive behaviour because of the violent acts depicted in them.

“We all expect to see rough and tumble but I have seen little ones acting out quite graphic scenes in the playground and there is a lot more hitting, hurting, thumping, etc, in the classroom for no particular reason.”

Ms Sherratt went on to elaborate on some of ‘quite graphic scenes’ she had witnessed, stating she had seen members of her class in the playground ‘throwing themselves out of the window of the play car in motion and acting out blood spurting from their bodies’.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, echoed Ms Sherratt’s comments. She said: “The fact that children spend hours locked in their rooms playing computer games, which means they’re not interacting, they’re not playing and not taking exercise.”

However, despite the pleas and concerns of the ATL, the government is not planning to devote resources to deal with the violent video game issue.

On the contrary, schools minister Nick Gibb, feels that schools are being forced to deal with all the ills of society, a policy that could end up compromising on education.

Despite admitting that the social issues facing education have dramatically increased over the past two decades, Mr Gibb believes that the priorities of schools as to make sure that pupils leave well educated.

Mr Gibb said: “The trouble is, we could easily fill up the school curriculum with all the social issues that many pressure groups want us to put in the curriculum, and then there would be no time left for the academic subjects that need to be taught.

“We don’t want pilates on the curriculum. These are the kind of issues we do get asked to put into the curriculum.”

MM spoke to Fardad Izadi, director at Manchester gaming bar Kyoto Lounge, to see what he thought of the issues highlighted at the ATL conference.

Mr Izadi said: “Games are age-rated and regulated just like movies are, so I can’t fully comprehend the problem to be honest.

“If a parent or guardian goes out to the shops and buys, say, a Call of Duty game, which is age-rated 18, then they shouldn’t be letting their young child play with it.

“Games are just like any other form of entertainment, and it’s the responsibility of parents or guardians to make sure that their children aren’t exposed to content they shouldn’t be.”

Despite acknowledging that news and information is more readily available more than ever in these modern times, Mr Izadi is adamant that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that children do not engage in violent video games that are beyond their years.

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