Pupils 'made more violent by computer games'

Girl playing on Play Station Teachers say they are noticing an increase in aggression among pupils

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Children are becoming more violent as they are being left unsupervised by their parents to play inappropriate computer games, teachers say.

Pupils as young as four are acting out "graphic scenes" from games in class and in the playground, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is to hear.

And there are fears youngsters cannot separate fantasy worlds from reality.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said some children came into school exhausted after playing games late at night.

Bradford teacher Alison Sherratt is set to tell the ATL annual conference in Manchester that members of her reception class have been acting out scenes from games well above limit for their age.

"The inspiration for this motion was when I watched my class out on the playground throwing themselves out of the window of the play car in slow motion and acting out blood spurting from their bodies," she says.

"I followed it up in circle time and talked about what they knew about playing games on the computer.

"Out of 27, four or five-year-olds, most have TVs and laptops in their bedrooms, most have sight of or actually own Nintendos, playstation, Xboxes and Wii and many said they watched older brothers, sisters and cousins playing games."

'Hitting and hurting'

She reflected on the kinds of games children had been playing in recent years and realised she had seen a marked increase in aggression in general.

She adds: "We all expect to see rough and tumble but I have seen little ones acting out quite graphic scenes in the playground and there is a lot more hitting, hurting, thumping etc in the classroom for no particular reason."

She questions how to respond when one of her pupils asks her to join in a game by "stabbing a person in the back".

Ms Sherratt also raises concerns over children having access to games unsupervised in their rooms, and wonders whether their parents are checking on what they are doing.

She says: "Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives - these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games."

She adds that the "addictive quality of these games means that many children are already hooked into these fantasy worlds separating themselves from reality."

Stereotype

Ian Livingstone of games manufacturer Square Enix said this was a stereotypical view of computer games.

He said they were now played by 70% of the population and could teach children about choice and consequence.

He added: "To talk about one or two games that have violent content is the same as judging the whole film industry by films with violent content."

Schools minister Nick Gibb acknowledged, in his speech to the ATL conference, the problems schools faced if children were staying up late playing computer games.

He added: "If children come into school exhausted the next day - it's difficult for that child to participate and difficult for the school to teach that child properly.

"Children do need to go to bed at regular time and we need to make sure that this message gets across."

He added that teachers had to deal with societal problems on a daily basis.

This included children being raised in more fragmented homes and children who came to school behaving aggressively after not being given the proper boundaries at home.

He said he was constantly being asked by pressure groups to address society's problems in schools through the curriculum.

"The trouble is we could completely take up the whole school curriculum with the social ills these pressure groups want us to address.

"There wouldn't be time to teach children."

He added: "The societal problems that these schools have to face are much greater today... but the best way to tackle this is to make sure children are leaving well educated."

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