Here at Marketing, Media and Childhood, we love it when people take action. So I invited reader Catherine Cook of Denver to write a guest post about her petition to Mega Brands (owned by Mattel) to stop shelving toys based on violent video games in the preschool toy section at department stores like Target and Walmart.
By Catherine Cook
I am a military wife and parent of an 8-year-old boy. My son knows about violence and war as my husband has been deployed multiple times during my son’s short 8 years. We don’t shelter our son from the atrocities of the world, but we also don’t glorify it and encourage it in his play. We monitor what he sees on the internet (having his computer in my office with me). If he comes across something that we feel is inappropriate he will either skip it or talk to us about it. So what I am trying to say is we don’t believe in sheltering him, but we do believe in appropriate content for appropriate ages.
For the past couple of years as I have walked through the toy section with my son, I have been disturbed and irritated that Mega Brands placed their Call of Duty and Halo building sets right next to their Duplo building blocks. Last week, I started a petition on Change.org asking Mega Brands to relocate these toys out of the children’s toys section and place them with appropriately aged merchandise.
To date, it has received almost 600 signatures from people who feel the same.
But I was not prepared for the backlash of comments from people who didn’t even properly read the petition. Really, all it took was one gamer to warp the petition for their own platform: “Another mom that has started a new petition to get Halo and Call of Duty Brand construction sets pulled from Target” to set off other gamers into believing I am asking for the building sets to be pulled. Here’s just some of the comments posted to the petition: “How about you stop being an idiot, and be a damn parent?”, “I fear for future generations if this is the best maternal caring can offer. Seriously, these women are downright piggish and don’t know how to raise their children properly.” And I could go on with the over three dozen of these posted.
I guess what dumbfounds me is, I AM being a parent! I have adjusted my job so I can be home more so we don’t have a latch-key child, we have his computer in plain sight, we play board games, we have conversations, and I’m available after school so that my son can bring his friends to play here.
I simply want these violent games to not be marketed to preschool children. I don’t think such a young child has the mental capacity to understand the concepts of war and violence. I am not asking for these games to be banned, just not marketed to our youth.
Ed. note: Here we see, yet again, a parent struggling to raise a child to be a member of a civil society (which benefits all of us), being undermined by giant corporations, and then having people defend those corporations against the parents. Hello! Those corporations don’t need to be defended by internet trolls. They are doing just fine, making a profit by selling violence to our kids.
On another note – the trolls could do with some media literacy education and learn to “check out” what they read on the internet and then maybe even think for themselves.
P.S. Sign the petition!
(We’ve written about the Mega Blox issue before here, and about the impossibility of protecting children from media violence here. Also, see this post on why media violence is a problem for children.)