When discussing media content, including violent video games, with your kids to shape their understanding of violence, here are some approaches parents can consider:
- Create a safe and open environment: Establish an environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their thoughts and questions about media content. Let them know that you are there to listen, support, and guide them without judgment.
- Engage in active listening: Give your child your full attention when discussing media content. Listen actively, ask open-ended questions, and encourage them to express their opinions, thoughts, and feelings. This helps you understand their perspective and tailor your guidance accordingly.
- Be knowledgeable about the games: Familiarise yourself with the specific games your child is playing. Play them or research their content, themes, and ratings. This knowledge allows you to have informed discussions and address any concerns or questions your child may have.
- Discuss values and consequences: Talk about the values and morals that are important to your family. Help your child understand the potential consequences of violent actions and explore alternative ways of resolving conflicts. Discuss the impact of violence on individuals, relationships, and society as a whole.
- Encourage critical thinking: Help your child develop critical thinking skills by asking them to analyse and evaluate the content they encounter. Encourage them to consider the context, motives, and consequences of violent actions within the game. Discuss how violence is portrayed and whether it aligns with their personal values.
- Teach media literacy: Educate your child about media literacy concepts such as persuasion techniques, stereotypes, and the influence of media on attitudes and behaviours. Teach them to question and think critically about the messages and representations they encounter in video games.
- Address emotions and empathy: Explore the emotions evoked by violent content and discuss the impact it may have on the characters involved. Encourage your child to consider the feelings and perspectives of others, both within the game and in real life. Foster empathy and help them understand the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.
- Reinforce positive behaviors: Recognise and praise your child when they demonstrate empathy, self-control, and non-violent problem-solving skills in their interactions with others, both inside and outside of video games. Positive reinforcement can reinforce prosocial behaviors and encourage their continued practice.
Remember to adapt your discussions to your child’s age, maturity level, and individual needs. By engaging in open, honest, and non-judgmental conversations, you can help shape your child’s understanding of violence and guide them towards responsible and thoughtful media consumption.