By Megan Dibben
Each day we hear about new wars, weapons and wins on every media platform available. Growing up in a society that is prone to such things is devastating. In the eyes of a teenager, a young girl who has been told we live in a big, bright, beautiful world repeatedly, these events are inexplicably disheartening.
We all soon learn, however, that with age comes understanding, and with opinion comes backlash. A protest is happening on every corner of every street defending or promoting new beliefs each day. And as days, months and years pass, we are exposed to increasingly explicit content, destroying our innocence.
But why were we ever innocent in the first place? Is it because we were children, unable to comprehend violence or anger – an emotion we all naturally experience from a very young age? Indeed, wars cannot be justified by suggesting that anger is a natural human emotion. It is common knowledge that violence should never be praised, but is hiding our children, the children of the new generation, ever going to change what they see and learn?
For example, the age range for owning gaming consoles is lowering every day. There are primary school children playing video games, which is contributing to their knowledge on conflict, even if it is fictional. So, my question is: how can we allow an eight year old to play games where the actual aim is to kill as many people as possible, but at the same time restrict them from learning about the Sudan Crisis? Surely, if they can accept the violence and gore on their screens daily, they can handle a story about real life issues in the world they live in?
It’s a completely contradictory society, especially with the debate over who should learn about conflicts and who shouldn’t. And although many may argue that children are unable to cope and will be overcome with worry if we do expose them to such content, have you ever met a fully grown adult who didn’t worry about current issues in the world? Why do you think they hide this information? Because it scares them just as much as it would scare any child.
On the other hand, perhaps exposing children to this kind of content through fictional games can be used methodically to prepare them for when they eventually do hear about real life wars and conflicts. While we are allowing them to have fun playing video games, we may also be helping them to understand that the things on their screen also happen in real life.
While the Xbox version may not be real, it’s based on real life issues. This may help reduce shock or confusion when real events are explained to them – majorly decreasing the risk of being traumatised. This may also spark an interest in learning about current issues, expanding their knowledge as they get older. This in turn may open up career options or simply help them to become activists for what they believe in. In my opinion, it is important to stand up for what you believe in – even if you are reprimanded for it.
Whichever side you choose to take, someone will have an opinion on it. But in a society of people with many different beliefs, we should not expect our children to go through life oblivious to what is happening in the world around them.
It happens too often, even carrying on into a child’s teenage years. For me and many other 15/16 year olds, we are now expected to have an opinion on politics, which is something we have never been taught about. The majority of people my age have no say in the future of our country – but what does it matter? We have no idea what is going to happen anyway because we don’t have the knowledge – not even the basics for many. From a personal opinion, I wish I knew more about the world. But, should we trust that adults are protecting us for as long as they can?
So, my final question is – should we be protected or taught?