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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Hunger Games a Violent Video Game

As the grandmother of six precious granddaughters, and the author of an eco mystery series for tweens and teens, the issue of violence in young adult and childerns fiction is important to me.
I just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, for young Adults, the biggest blockbuster book since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, for adults—unfortunately younger kids are reading it, too.The strength of the book lies in the way the author spins the powerful theme of survival against all odds in a dystopian world, using a young girl, Katniss, as the protagonist. My granddaughters have read the book and I have discussed it with them. Their responses varied from a true understanding of Collins’ anti-violence message to a more shallow appraisal that people will do anything to survive no matter how evil the act. Ironically, the book is an extremely violent video game transplanted into words (we decry violence on TV, video games and movies, but seem to notice it less in literature, although it has been around in classic works for ages: Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter, Brothers Grimm's Fairy Tales). I abhor the extreme violence and cruelty in The Hunger Games—the whole kids-slaughtering-kids thing, at the bequest of the government, just completely gives me the creeps—however it is compelling, and has important messages about the cruelty and injustice of violence, the dangers of totalitarian government, and the perils of living in a celebrity-obsessed culture where reality TV shows make entertainment out of the grist of daily lives. I sincerely hope the kids will decipher these serious themes. So what can we adults do to guide our children? I think we should apply the advice of Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School who studies how media affect youth.

The best advice, says Rich, is the same advice he’d have given any parent any time—even before the age of television: “
Talk with your kids. Ask them about what they’re doing, and join in when you can. And share with them your favorite media—books, music, movies, games, TV.” After all, he points out, children left to their own devices will eat nothing but cake and cookies. Influencing their media diet is as doable as guiding their food choices. And if he and his colleagues “do our jobs,” he declares, parents will have a much easier time deciphering the menu. 

Former Hollywood filmmaker Michael Rich studies how media affect youth | Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2011

another excellent link:

Stanford Magazine > November/December 2002 > Feature Story > Spoiling Our Kids

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