‘Media violence and our children: How much is too much” a lively final debate closes the industry sessions at inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival

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Tackling the sensitive and often subjective issue of media violence and children’s access to inappropriate content, a panel of six industry experts from the worlds of policy, production, psychology, regulation and acting came together to discuss how to reduce the amount of violence that our children are exposed to.

During the final session at the inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival, chaired by Qatar’s Head of Theatre, Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Saad Bourschied, a wide variety of questions were raised including the need for laws and legislation, enforcement of regulation and who’s responsibility it is to monitor what media content children are consuming.

Sheikha Najla Bint Faisal Al Thani, Director, Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Qatar discussed the rise in video game sales in the country, highlighting both the positive and negative effects this medium can have on the younger generations. However she suggested there is still work to be done to ensure that parents choose the right games for their children to play. “Different public workshops should be held that would allow families try to identify which games are most useful for children’s development and enjoyment, and which are most damaging, characterising them in terms of age groups”.

Arabic Actress, Huda Hussain was a passionate advocate for protecting children against violent content, “children are being desensitised to violence because they are becoming more receptive to it. Video games being played are no longer about winning, they’re about killing the other player and because of the amount of time they play games or watch television, they are beginning to live in isolation, spending less time together as a family”.

Dr. Khalid Hamad Al-Muhanadi, Psychology Consultant, agreed, “emotional intelligence is important, we’re not educating our children emotionally to deal with the what they learn from TV shows, they’re unable to read and write their feelings

“Self censorship and self control is the way to go, as a family you need to have control of what your children are watching in your household,” was his recommendation to the audience seated at the Katara Opera House.

Venus Jennings, Programme Specialist, UNESCO highlighted research that suggested that violent media can have a different effect on children depending on their own family background, where they grow up and how old they are. “Studies have shown that highly aggressive individuals are more affected by violent behaviour and that family conflict has been positively associated with violent TV watching and violent electronic game play”

Ali Al Rayes, General Manager, Joint Programme Production Institute, GCC discussed the Institute’s philosophy that guides their internal approach for content production, “our company focuses on raising awareness and education, promoting tolerance and friendship, moving away from fundamentalism.”

“None of us have a magic wand to counter balance violence towards children, we all need to work together to fight violence, whether it is physical or psychological,” he continued.

Firdoze Bulbulia, Director, Moments Entertainment, used the African Charter on Children and Broadcasting as an example of how important it is that producers use the available guidelines and resources to help them when making children’s programming.

“Media is a very powerful tool to educate young children. We have a responsibility to help them deal with the reality of violence. The charter we created is just one tool available to programme makers, however if this just hangs on walls, or lives in books in pretty libraries, then it’s useless”

She agreed with Ali Al Rayes and gave the audience and industry a clear call to action, “we now need to find friends and work together to share experience across the different regions. If we can work together, we can enhance quality media content for children across the globe.”

Ajyal Youth Film Festival builds on the Doha Film Institute's history of community-based programming. Ajyal invites generations to come together to discuss cinema through workshops that inspire creative interaction, opening up a fun, collaborative environment where young people can express themselves.

- ILQ News -