I joined a gym recently (that in itself is a revelation trust me!). As I was jogging away, I was listening to a podcast on my iPhone. I do this because I don’t always like to listen to the music that is blaring in the gym. However I can still see the TV screens showing the music videos.
We’ve all heard about the influence (very often negative) of Music, TV and computer games on young people. There is plenty of evidence to support the case that over-exposure to these things, particularly when they are violent or sexually explicit can be harmful to them. I’ve heard these arguments too and often agreed. But being in the gym watching the music videos without the music, offered me a whole new insight.
You see when you hear the music at the same time, there is a story in or with the melody that occupies your mind, such that although you might be watching the music video, the video is not really the point. The video is the background part that you think you are not really paying attention to.
However, it’s these little repetitive things in life that bumble away in the background that we sometimes need to be most aware of. For most adults reading this now, if I called out to you “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and -” you could probably successfully fill in the gap. (Even though there is very little correlation between chocolate bars and work, rest and play!) Despite the fact that it has been years since that advert was on the TV, and the song wasn’t important it was just the background part to you seeing the chocolate bar, you still remember it. Whether it’s now made you want a Mars bar is a different matter I suppose, but it has certainly done well to remain lodged in your memory, despite being the add on bit to something else.
Now what if it is the same with music videos? That whilst our young people are busy focusing on the song, the video images are the bit that get lodged. That would be great if the music videos showed, peace, love, kindness etc. However it appears they do not. One video I watched the other day appeared to show a quite graphic murder scene. The sad thing is it was probably a pretty good song, but the need to provide something provocative visually makes it all a bit risky (in my opinion) when we start thinking about young people watching this stuff.
Video games get a lot of bad press and as a whole that’s not quite right. I think it’s important for young people to be comfortable with technology and to be savvy with it. Computer games can help with that. I played computer games a lot as a child, starting out with a sinclair spectrum, a nintendo, a sega mega drive and then later a gameboy. I still have a DS now. I can honestly say I have never as a result raced a car on a public highway or shot a zombie. Though I did once throw a bread role at Lewis’s head not realising how stale it was and nearly killed him.) However, I didn’t play or enjoy particularly violent games and some games that are available are really rough. I wouldn’t want to play them now let alone when I was a child.
The problem is managing these temptations for young people. Often when they are banned from something, their desire or curiosity for it increases. I’ve met lots of children now who watched video clips on youtube that they shouldn’t have done and then they couldn’t sleep at night.
My tips for managing this stuff are:
Be honest with young people, tell them “This is why I think this is unsuitable for you”
Acknowledge and discuss what they do see
Please post your tips below in the comments box – I’d love to hear your thoughts.
By Gemma Bailey