By Story Star correspondent Lauren Husbands
Possibly one of our greatest fears in this modern day and age is what kind of entertainment is thrust upon our children and little ones and how suitable it is for their viewing. there always seems to be some kind of worry that the amounts of entertainment that youngsters engage in aren’t always appropriate for their age. Television programmes, films, video games and music videos have always been the most highly criticised sources of entertainment in terms of being unsuitable viewing for children. However, it seems now it is time to turn attention to books too.
Whilst many television sets can now restrict access to children via parental control, it seems that the access that children have to particular books and novels is not so easily controlled. Unlike films that have age certificates which determine its audience, books are available to almost anyone without any questions asked. This means that is often possible for youngsters to select and purchase a novel that may not necessarily be quite appropriate for their age very easily. For example, some books may include storylines or chapters that are violent and gory which are aimed at young adults or teens but may also be read by young children who favour novels from a gruesome genre.
We can pay particular attention here to best-selling novel ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins first published in 2008. The storyline itself although extremely successful is also extremely brutal as it sees several youth characters in the book suffer brutal deaths, many which are inflicted by each other. Whilst the characters in the book are between the ages of around 12 and 18, it almost seems dangerous to allow readers of the same age to be involved in such a storyline.
Since the novel was first published, a film adaptation has also been released and was enthusiastically watched by youngsters who read the book. This raises concern because as a result of young children and teens being able to have easy access and familiarity with the novel, they have become so engrossed with the violent and brutal storyline that they wanted to pursue the experience on the big screen. Surely this must raise alarm bells and make us question the extent of what access youngsters have when it comes to reading particular genres especially as many novels are now adapted into films which emphasises the child’s engagement at a much higher level.
Whilst fantasy fiction is a popular genre amongst children, teens and young adults, it is also important to keep in mind the extent of the effects that these storylines can have on such young minds. Although they are popular and entertaining, it is crucial to understand that these novels are not as carefully controlled as inappropriate television programmes or video games that have age restrictions. Although these are visual sources of entertainment and may have a powerful effect upon the children than a novel, it seems that more parental control and age restrictions regarding novels are definitely something to consider.