The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the UK has raised concerns that parents are allowing their children to spend hours each day playing inappropriate video games.
Members of the union have their annual conference in Manchester next week and will debate a resolution calling for tougher legislation on violent computer games. The motion will call for research to be commissioned to provide evidence with which to lobby parliament.
How successful such legislation would be in light of recent tax breaks aimed at revitalizing the struggling UK video game industry is unclear.
ATL head Dr Mary Bousted acknowledged the difficulty of policing age restrictions on video games, films and television.
“It takes the very serious and labour-intensive business of proper care and attention of young children before they go to school and while at school to allow them to learn most effectively.
“If they’re up to 12 or one o’clock playing computer games, and coming to school exhausted, not interacting with other children, that’s not good preparation for school, and not good preparation for life.”
Dr Bousted also expressed concern that overuse of video games among children was physically harmful to the children involved as the leisure time spent playing them tends to come at the expense of time spent exercising and playing outside. This doesn’t take account of any potential societal problems children face from being overly introverted in their pastimes. Traditionally playing outside was how children made friends, and it is widely held that children with friends tend to be happier and more open to learning.
This motion is an additional call for parents to fulfill their nurturing responsibilities to their offspring. It comes after a study by the Royal Economic Society that found the influence parents have on their children’s educational attainment is five times that of their children’s teachers.
“Half of the variation in test scores is attributable to shared family factors, while schools only account for 10 per cent,” it was claimed. The remaining variation was down to pupils themselves.