Media literacy is key to tackling violence to which children are exposed

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The South Korean Dystopian Series Squid game has become Netflix’s most-watched TV series, but there have been growing calls to stop children from watching it to prevent them from emulating its violent challenges.

However, seasoned broadcaster Peppi Azzopardi believes the solution lies in education, not banning Squid Game or other violent content to which children are exposed.

Speaking on Andrew Azzopardi’s talk show on 103 Malta’s Heart, the former Xarabank presenter said that “the solution is not to prevent children from watching something but to prepare them to read it and to interpret them “.

Emphasizing the importance of introducing media literacy into the school curriculum, Azzopardi said that “we have to teach children to be critical, not to believe everything they are told, to understand war …”

He added that the danger is when people call for a boycott or condemn violent series or games because they add to their appeal.

Arguing that such content has desensitized violence, Azzopardi said “I am worried about the normalization of violence” which he believes could lead to the trivialization of society and immunity from violence in real life. .

Artificial intelligence expert Alexei Dingli shared the point of view of Azzopardi, the former mayor of Valletta saying “we should not underestimate” the ability of children to understand and discern what they are looking at. television or online.

He said that previous generations were also exposed to violence and insisted that the problem is not exclusively due to parenthood, as children are exposed to all kinds of content on platforms such as TikTok, YouTube. , Instagram and other apps.

“The problem isn’t just that kids are watching things they shouldn’t be watching, because it’s up to parents to set boundaries and educate. The problem is with the content they are inadvertently exposed to… parents cannot control such cases.

He added that the most worrying aspect is the lack of education and said children are more than able to distinguish between fact and fiction.

While agreeing on the need to empower children, Councilor Joseph Pellicano argued that children need adults to process and understand what they see on TV or online.

Recently, several Maltese schools have urged parents to prevent their children from watching Squid game while students as young as five are said to have copied the show’s violent games.

Recognizing that Netflix, YouTube and other apps are an integral part of everyday life, Pellicano said, “Ultimately, the more children are exposed to violence, the greater the likelihood that they will be immune to it.” .

Pellicano added that “some media are harmful” and transferred the responsibility to parents who leave children unattended or, in some cases, watch violent content with children.

When asked if being exposed to violence at a young age will make future generations more violent, Pellicano said studies show that young boys exposed to violence are 50% more likely to inflict domestic violence to their partners in adulthood.

Neuropsychiatrist and academic Kristina Bettenzana said research on the long-term effect of violent content on children is inconclusive and ongoing, but said people are influenced by what they see and watch, but the extent of the impact

However, Bettenzana added that exposure to violence has’ other impacts, on sleep patterns, relationships and socialization. It is not only about violence, but it also affects other aspects of children’s lives.

Watch the full discussion below:


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