Whenever teachers dispense parenting advice, the outcome is almost never a positive one. As much as I agree that children who are exposed to violent movies and video games are worse for it, I think it is essential that teachers spend less time judging parents and more time concentrating on the curriculum.
Still, in a perfect world, parents should reflect on some of the criticisms conveyed by teachers:
School pupils are being allowed to stay up until the early hours of the morning playing games that are inappropriate for their age, said Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
She said many parents were failing to adhere to age-restrictions on the most violent games, raising concerns that children are growing up desensitised to aggression and bloodshed.
It was also claimed that over-exposure to screen-based entertainment was robbing children of valuable time interacting with friends or playing outdoors – harming their education and long term development.
It follows repeated concerns from psychologists that watching violent films and playing games such as Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Modern Warfare makes youngsters more prone to violence.
Speaking yesterday, Dr Bousted said: “I think what we are talking about, first of all, is the amount of time children spend locked in their room. The fact that children spend hours locked in their rooms playing computer games, which means they’re not interacting, they’re not playing and not taking exercise.”
Some of these games were “very violent”, she said, and risk having a major effect on “tender young minds of children and young people.”
Dr Bousted said that many teachers fear parents are ignoring age restrictions on computer games, which often ban their sale to children aged below 18.
“The watershed tends to work quite well, but with online TV and video children and young people are probably watching inappropriate content over a range of media,” she said.
It would be great to share criticisms with parents without fear of reprisal. But, in my experience, the importance of having parents on side means that these criticisms can interfere with a healthy parent/teacher partnership.