Video violence can harm school children

Video violence can harm school children

Former government education adviser, Dr Stephen Curran

An education expert and former government adviser has blasted a video that has been shown to primary school children.

The short, animated CGI 3D film made available by ‘teachers resource’ company The Literacy Shed depicts a frightening, post-apocalyptic world with violent scenes.

Dr Stephen Curran said the 8min 30sec film called ‘Ruin’ was inappropriate for young children and fears the hyper-realism could harm pupils.

The sequence shows a motorcyclist in a Mad Max-style setting being attacked by a spaceship firing missiles at him.

Dr Curran has said that the film is ‘very scary’ and the brains of primary school-age youngsters are still developing and they can’t always process the material properly.

He also believes that youngsters’ development could be harmed by a diet of constant screen imagery.

Dr Curran is a former teacher who now runs a tuition company that also publishes ‘how-to’ books for children aged seven to fourteen.

He also served on the panel that advised on the primary maths curriculum that was introduced in 2014.

Dr Curran said: “This video is a remarkable piece of work and I enjoyed it, but it is highly inappropriate for primary school children, which I know it has been shown to and which it has upset.

“It is a scary production and such high levels of realism are more likely to disturb a young child than a film with simpler graphics.

“It would be interesting to see what rating it would be given if it were shown at the cinema.

“I have taught at primary, secondary and at university level. I think I could use this kind of material for GCSE, A Level and university students as a stimulus for story writing, but certainly not primary school children or lower secondary children in Year 7.

“Young children’s brains are still developing and they do not have the capacity to analyse and contextualise material in the same way as older children.

“They can even believe things that are not real – after all, Father Christmas can be very real to them.

“A young child can find material like this very frightening and it can lead to nightmares and fearful episodes.

“What would be better here would be for the teacher to read a story about the situation and let the children imagine it in their own minds.

“Teachers must be mindful of what they show to children and understand that violent imagery that is hyper-realistic can potentially cause great harm.

“It is possible that continual exposure to this sort of thing might lead to challenging or disturbing behaviour.

“I have no psychological qualifications, but I know that some in that profession do have concerns about what young children are exposed to.

“It is one thing for parents to allow young children unfettered access to violent videos on their smart phones, it is another matter when teachers deliberately show it to them at school.

“I feel young children spend far too much time looking at screens and this habit might harm their development in ways we don’t yet understand.

“Until we do have the data, it is best to reduce screen time for children – or deny it to them until they are older – monitor what they watch and ensure they don’t look at screens as bedtime approaches.”

Literacy Shed states on its website: “This site is intended for use by teachers to use with the children in the class when they find the films relevant and suitable.”

“Many of the films on the site are student short films so have not been classified by the BFi as U, PG, etc so teachers should watch the films and use those that they deem appropriate for the children in their care.”


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