What effect is popular culture having on our children?
As a teacher, I worry that we do not have enough positive role models in popular culture and it is having a disastrous effect on our young people.
Love Island, the World Cup and gaming are all having an impact but not in good ways. Are they a recipe for disaster?
Love Island and other ‘reality’ TV shows are more popular than ever. I worry about young people, who may look to the TV for role models. Love Island amplifies all of the least desirable human traits, even if it is ‘just a bit of fun’. The show fails to represent traits such as intelligence, academia, loyalty or honesty. Instead, contestants whose physical appearance is deemed to be most attractive tend to hog the limelight.
Whether intentional or otherwise, seeing chiseled abs or make-up covered faces every night has the power to completely ruin a young person’s self-esteem. Undoubtedly, so called ‘reality’ TV such as Love Island and the advertising that comes with it could contribute to depression and eating disorders.
World Cup Fever
Football was rightly all over our screens last month. Children have the opportunity to see athletes at the top of their game on the grandest of stages. However, I sincerely worry about the examples the professional footballers set for young enthusiasts.
I am regularly disgusted by the disrespectful behaviour of football players. As someone who doesn’t usually watch ‘the beautiful game’, I have been totally put off by the pantomime. There are dozens of players who I believe are rude and dishonest cheats. The commentators disagree and refer to their ‘passion’. Referees legitimise their blatant abuse by keeping them on the pitch.
Dissent and abuse of officials affects more than just football. The sport has to accept some of the blame for an increasing disregard for authority in schools, as many children see footballers as role models. What’s more, the pathetic habit of players to dive on the ground at the slightest touch may have wider consequences than just the outcome of a football game. It reinforces the idea that cheating and lying is acceptable and sometimes even preferable to honesty.
I had a PlayStation 1 when I was at school but I was only allowed to play for an hour at time. My games included ‘Spyro the Dragon’, ‘FIFA’ and ‘Tony Hawks Skateboarding’. None of these titles were violent.
A number of children in my class play ‘Call of Duty’, ‘God of War’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’. The themes in these ’18+’ rated games include murder, rape, war and violent crime. My children are six and seven years old. I worry about how the violent nature of these games affects them.
Young boys’ imaginative play regularly involves guns. A child has threatened to rape or kill another child on a number of occassions in the playground this year. Though in probability at the age of six my children do not know what these words mean, it is highly concerning. Similarly, the children who play violent games in my school are more likely to raise their hands and feet to their peers. They also use bad language more frequently than others. Children ‘learn what they live’. If they live with violence, this is what their play involves.
The perfect storm
The notion that hard work is a necessary part of success has never been more threatened. ‘Reality’ TV, video games and sporting idols barrage children with the worse of human behaviour on a daily basis. Is it really a surprise that crime and poor behaviour is on the up?
Our youngsters have no chance. Not only are children growing up with fewer positive role models in the home; popular culture is slowly dismantling the values we deem to be pivotal in a successful society.