May 11, 2005

ARTICLES: Kids Slowly Addicted To Violence, No Thanks To The Media (ASIA)

Kids Slowly Addicted To Violence, No Thanks To The Media

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (Bernama) -- Children are slowly addicted to violence and this is "no thanks" to the media, Pakistan Television programmes director/executive producer Moneeza Hashmi said Tuesday.

She said the media particularly broadcasters were continuously injecting poison into the minds of innocent children, turning them into violent addicts.

Despite being in the broadcasting industry, Moneeza said she was appalled at the television programmes currently being shown.

Instead of pleasure, she said television had become a nuisance to "responsible" parents who were constantly on the edge, wondering what kind of programmes including cartoons that their children were watching.

The presence of cable television also made it difficult for parents as their children were being flooded with imported programmes or cartoons which promoted violence, she said at the second day of the Asia Media Summit.

"(During my days) I had cartoons too but they were not violent, sometimes they may look stupid but they were fun," she said at today's summit which discussed on `Children: Today's Learners, Tomorrow Leaders - Asia Emerging Networks to improve Children's TV'.

Of the television programmes being shown throughout the world today, she said only 30 to 40 percent of them were suitable for children and in some countries, it might be less.

This, she noted, could be worrying since studies carried out in Europe and the United States showed that children between the ages of six and 10 spend an average of two to five hours a day watching television.

To a question, she said the main reason that television had become more violent was because broadcasters and producers - who are adults - were of the opinion that violence sells.

And, this is important because television is a big and costly business and broadcasters have profit margins to worry about, she said.

Moneeza said the media, when confronted on violence in television, would say that this was what the public wanted and they were just serving the needs of their audiences.

"I doubt when you ask any child they will say yes, I am violent, I like and condone violence...give me a break.

"If you keep injecting something like that, ironically, it's like sex, it's like glamour, it's like vulgarity. If you keep injecting it, the boy will say it makes sense and it becomes an addiction," she said.

To overcome this, Moneeza pointed out that there was a need to find new sources of money to fund television programmes that were healthy to children but might not be profitable.

In addition, she said there was now awareness among the public and governments on the need to curb violence in the media, but the reform process would take time.

"It is not easy to change the behaviour and the minds of people. It is happening but it will take a few generations to achieve that," she said.

Meanwhile, Arab States Broadcasting Union Director General Abdelhafidh Harguem said the media could become instrumental in training the citizens of tomorrow.

He said the media had turned into unavoidable "parallel schools" which were at the core of interaction between young people and their family and educational milieus.

This, he said, was because children attending school were soaked with media culture, which moulded their view of the world.

"For all these reasons, the introduction in school curricula of education to the media proves to be a pressing need. Countries like Canada, have integrated it as a full-fledged school discipline," he said.


Chris Schuepp
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