A young friend, a boy of 14 years, was engrossed in a game on his laptop computer. Looking over his shoulder one could see a column of running figures which he was busy annihilating with a series of apparent explosions. To the remark that the game seemed to be extremely violent came the reply that there was no blood. If this one factor had the power to sanitize this particular juvenile pastime, the same could not be said of the television film of some, so called, super-heroes, that he chose for his next diversion. The violence of all kinds, bloody and bloodless, seems to be the dominant feature of the entertainment provided for and chosen by, today’s youth.

The subject of the referenced encounter was male and one might expect young ladies to choose more peaceful entertainment. However, it appears that some super-heroes are female, and with more girls aspiring to fill combat roles in the military, it is likely that they too share the interests of their brothers. So with the television channels and the Internet reaching the youth of every country, it is not surprising that many people wonder if this phenomenon is not a causal factor in the global upsurge in terrorism, drug wars and campus massacres.

The conclusion that the portrayal of violence poses a risk of a harmful effect on children has been reached by many august bodies including the US Surgeon General and several national academies and public health agencies. It has been found that young viewers run the risk of learning aggressive attitudes and behavior, becoming inured to the suffering of others and growing excessively fearful of themselves becoming the victims of violence.

Contrary to the young man’s implied assertion that the absence of blood in his computer game excused his indulgence, it has been found that violence that is presented as sanitized or glamorized can be more harmful, as it hides the pain and suffering that violence can cause. The modern military is happy to recruit young people with computer gaming skills as well prepared to train as pilots of its drone vehicles and weaponry, thereby promoting them from virtual violence to actual violence of a similarly sanitized nature.

It is the power of big business that sustains violence in television programmes, films, and computer games. Violence, like sex, captures audiences, but whereas laws exist to prevent children seeing the beginning of life, they may witness the end of life in all its agonizing variety and horror. For concerned parents, the answer may be to wean their offspring from electronic devices and back to books. Fortunately, there are still authors who believe that children can be entertained without resort to violence and provide books suitable for bedtime reading that is guaranteed to provoke a chuckle and induce sleep that is free from nightmares.

Here a selction of good games:

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