Hot Best Seller

Killing Monsters: Our Children's Need For Fantasy, Heroism, and Make-Believe Violence

Availability: Ready to download

Children choose their heroes more carefully than we think. From Pokémon to the rapper Eminem, pop-culture icons are not simply commercial pied pipers who practice mass hypnosis on our youth. Indeed, argues the author of this lively and persuasive paean to the power of popular culture, even trashy or violent entertainment gives children something they need, something that c Children choose their heroes more carefully than we think. From Pokémon to the rapper Eminem, pop-culture icons are not simply commercial pied pipers who practice mass hypnosis on our youth. Indeed, argues the author of this lively and persuasive paean to the power of popular culture, even trashy or violent entertainment gives children something they need, something that can help both boys and girls develop in a healthy way. Drawing on a wealth of true stories, many gleaned from the fascinating workshops he conducts, and basing his claims on extensive research, including interviews with psychologists and educators, Gerard Jones explains why validating our children's fantasies teaches them to trust their own emotions and build stronger selves.


Compare

Children choose their heroes more carefully than we think. From Pokémon to the rapper Eminem, pop-culture icons are not simply commercial pied pipers who practice mass hypnosis on our youth. Indeed, argues the author of this lively and persuasive paean to the power of popular culture, even trashy or violent entertainment gives children something they need, something that c Children choose their heroes more carefully than we think. From Pokémon to the rapper Eminem, pop-culture icons are not simply commercial pied pipers who practice mass hypnosis on our youth. Indeed, argues the author of this lively and persuasive paean to the power of popular culture, even trashy or violent entertainment gives children something they need, something that can help both boys and girls develop in a healthy way. Drawing on a wealth of true stories, many gleaned from the fascinating workshops he conducts, and basing his claims on extensive research, including interviews with psychologists and educators, Gerard Jones explains why validating our children's fantasies teaches them to trust their own emotions and build stronger selves.

30 review for Killing Monsters: Our Children's Need For Fantasy, Heroism, and Make-Believe Violence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Originally reviewed in Dec. 2011. Updating to correct a couple of typos Nov. 2012. I've read on this subject often. As noted before I grew up in the '50s and had dozens of cap guns. I sported "Fanner Fiftys" (yes I know it should be "fifties" but the "Fanner Fifty" was a trademarked product of Mattel) in the "Two-Gun" rig. I had the Buffalo Hunter set that came with a six-gun, a Winchester that shot "Shootin' Shells" and came with a plastic skinning knife, complete with stag horn grips on pistol Originally reviewed in Dec. 2011. Updating to correct a couple of typos Nov. 2012. I've read on this subject often. As noted before I grew up in the '50s and had dozens of cap guns. I sported "Fanner Fiftys" (yes I know it should be "fifties" but the "Fanner Fifty" was a trademarked product of Mattel) in the "Two-Gun" rig. I had the Buffalo Hunter set that came with a six-gun, a Winchester that shot "Shootin' Shells" and came with a plastic skinning knife, complete with stag horn grips on pistol and knife. Later I had plastic sub-machine guns and as I got older built scale models of well know firearms (try to find those today). I also played with plastic army men, cowboys and even big game hunters (another thing that would probably be virtually impossible to find now). I date back to the first action figures, G.I.Joe and the lesser known Stoney by Marx. I read and collected comic books. When I was small I read Superman and Batman then at about 12 I found Marvel. I liked many of the Marvel universe but my favorite books were The Avengers and my favorite character was Captain America.... And you know, I'm not a serial killer...really I'm not. (I mean I realize that's what a serial killer would say. But "trust me" I'm really not...honest.) We all played with those toys back then and so did the generations before. And you know what, kids today still play violent games. Parents can forbid it they can even try to suppress it, but kids need that release. (Under the influence of a church I was attending I once tried [hypocritically] to forbid my son from playing games where he "shot people". One day I saw him outside with friends shooting a toy gun. When I called him over he told me it was alright. They were "shooting robots". I came to my senses, remembered my own childhood and revoked my prohibition... He was allowed to shoot, "bad guys" like all the other kids he played with. Today he sells art and craft supplies.) This is a book by a man who played the same games as a kid but then (like so many) when he came to "adult hood" he tried to forget it, down play it...and yes suppress it. Then he stopped and took a look at reality. The book is interesting and also (yes I know this is somewhat cliched but...) thought provoking. There are, in my opinion only a few down sides. First, the book seems to me to be a bit "over thought". Once he realized that he as a child had played violent games, read comic books and that he survived he was able to take another look at reality. Gerard Jones is known (among other things) as a comic book writer and he'd made an overt attempt to "scale back" violence and make his stories "deep and meaningful". Then he spoke to a reader who liked one of his books and had found meaning, found a sort of identification in some of the violence. He started looking at play and entertainment violence and it's implications. Unfortunately I think to some extant the "act of studying" may have taken over "the study". You'll see this I believe as you read through his stories (anecdotes) and thoughts....which leads to my second quibble. Second the book gets a bit dry and labored in a few places. It's okay, stick with it, even skim a little if you need to, there's some good stuff in among the "waffle" as Hermine said ("There's some important stuff hidden in the waffle", from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Third...well I wish he'd discussed a bit more the difference in the "types" of violent entertainment. He does point out that in most cases the "authorities" or whoever tend to ask the wrong questions. They'll ask "what are the effects of violent entertainment on children?" This in effect makes no difference in, for example: Junk Yard Dogs and Daffy Duck. He address this somewhat, but not so much the difference in the moral context. Having watched my own kids and of course having had my own history, I see a big difference in say, Gunsmoke and Nightmare on Elm Street. All in all, a pretty good book on an interesting and maybe overworked subject. We live in a world where small kids can get suspended from elementary school for pointing a finger and saying "bang". There is a huge movement to try and subdue and even drug aggressive play out of children (yes largely boys but girls indulge in violent play to, even though people [the same ones trying to completely subdue this play probably] don't want to admit it). The conclusion here is that yes violent play is and/or can be positive (even if not always so) and that violent video games, movies and action toys don't (at least alone or normally) cause maladjusted kids. Heck, I have to admit that even though I hate (read can't abide) slasher movies, most slasher movie fans don't become slashers... To repeat myself, on the whole thought provoking and interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Robbins

    Wow, what a fascinating work of research, nonfiction, and experience about comics and fantasy stories! Gerard Jones definitely did his homework, and his past experiences as a comic writer, teacher/workshop presenter, parent, and fan give him a lot of credibility. I appreciate the book's distinction between exposing children to weapons and allowing children to play with toy weapons, such as water guns, toy swords, and action figures. Play, along with the reading of fantasy and comics, allows chil Wow, what a fascinating work of research, nonfiction, and experience about comics and fantasy stories! Gerard Jones definitely did his homework, and his past experiences as a comic writer, teacher/workshop presenter, parent, and fan give him a lot of credibility. I appreciate the book's distinction between exposing children to weapons and allowing children to play with toy weapons, such as water guns, toy swords, and action figures. Play, along with the reading of fantasy and comics, allows children to enact some of their real life frustrations in a safe context. So long as adults help children distinguish between fantasy and reality, play can be a healthy way of expressing emotions. This book really helped me to see some of these issues differently, which shows that the author did his job. It'll help me with my research/literature question of my comprehensive exams, too. Additionally, I love how there's a whole chapter devoted to Vampire Slayers, particularly the Buffy movie of my late elementary years and the TV show of my high school years that I am now watching as a thirtysomething. Whedon's hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a true icon of teen television show, and Buffy set the tone for female superheroes. While I think we need more female superheroes who do not look like Buffy :), this show truly paved the way, and I'm glad this book and other scholarship is helping people appreciate Whedon's work. That chapter made me want to keep watching the television series. I loved this book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Brooks

    This is a terrific book that puts in sensible perspective irrational adult fears around kids and their play. Jones asks the question, why do so many healthy (psychologically and physically) 'normal' kids like fantasy violence and imaginary rough play so much? It's a great question which he then explores examining a range of pop culture forms from films, TV shows, video games and toys - from Star Wars to Harry Potter. Fantasy is about escaping the strictures and controls of everyday life and captu This is a terrific book that puts in sensible perspective irrational adult fears around kids and their play. Jones asks the question, why do so many healthy (psychologically and physically) 'normal' kids like fantasy violence and imaginary rough play so much? It's a great question which he then explores examining a range of pop culture forms from films, TV shows, video games and toys - from Star Wars to Harry Potter. Fantasy is about escaping the strictures and controls of everyday life and capturing a sense of power in a world that often leaves children especially, feeling powerless. Fantasy violence, whether it's waving a wand (a gun by any other name), a plastic gun, bows and arrows or a light sabre, reassures young kids and allows them to be the 'master' in a universe they've created or emulated and where they set the rules and boundaries. Drawing on experts from around the globe, Gerard Jones presents a persuasive argument in easy to read prose that should reassure parents and teachers that children wanting to pretend to blow up and kill things is normal. It should also put in perspective the recent 'panic' (moral and otherwise) around superhero play.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashanti Miller

    The book has a good premise and setup, but I am getting bored as the author reiterates the same information and over and over. I am reading this book to understand my industry better. I work as an animator and since the early 2000's the stories have focused on themes that concern boys. I am perplexed with the attraction to violence--especially explosions and wimpy heroes. This book is a window into young male psyche. According to the author, boys need a fantasy monsters to conquer because they c The book has a good premise and setup, but I am getting bored as the author reiterates the same information and over and over. I am reading this book to understand my industry better. I work as an animator and since the early 2000's the stories have focused on themes that concern boys. I am perplexed with the attraction to violence--especially explosions and wimpy heroes. This book is a window into young male psyche. According to the author, boys need a fantasy monsters to conquer because they can't handle the real life monsters on the playground---especially the omega-bookish little boy. Therefore that's why we have all these loser protagonists in animated films. I'm sick of it. Charlies Brown was fine, but #1 am biased for my childhood cartoons, and #2 Charlie was much better written and likeable than Fry Farnsworth, Peter Griffin, Bender, and that wuss in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I mean, really, how predictable can the latter film be? Hopefully, when and if I reach the end of this book, I'll better understand the decisions TV and film executives make when they green-light stories with these kind of protagonists. -Ashanti

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This was an interesting read. I don't have kids, but it sounded like a good book nonetheless and I'm glad I read it. It actually gave me a unique perspective on why I liked the things I liked when I was a child and I can appreciate them in a different light. Good discussion on how media is an outlet and how we need fantasy, even into adulthood. I especially liked his discussion of video games since I find gaming a perfect outlet for negative emotions. An artificial environment where one can shoot This was an interesting read. I don't have kids, but it sounded like a good book nonetheless and I'm glad I read it. It actually gave me a unique perspective on why I liked the things I liked when I was a child and I can appreciate them in a different light. Good discussion on how media is an outlet and how we need fantasy, even into adulthood. I especially liked his discussion of video games since I find gaming a perfect outlet for negative emotions. An artificial environment where one can shoot things, beat things up and vent anger and aggression is a healthy outlet. I know I feel more calm after venting my anger in a place where no real living beings can be harmed. Gaming is also a fantastic method of interactive storytelling and allows the gamer to feel powerful as they get to be someone else for a while and actively take part in the world of the game. I liked that Jones focused on these positive aspects of gaming since so many condemn gaming for the fantasy violence therein.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I highly recommend this book for parents, psychology students, and teachers. I'm not even going to try to sum this book up in a few lines, because it is just that good. Suffice to say that it really put my mind at ease about my son's fascination with GI Joes and "war stuff" like military aircraft books. It is even applicable to those interested in sociology in that our fascination with these things as children continues into adulthood. It is a part of our society. I did a report on this book for I highly recommend this book for parents, psychology students, and teachers. I'm not even going to try to sum this book up in a few lines, because it is just that good. Suffice to say that it really put my mind at ease about my son's fascination with GI Joes and "war stuff" like military aircraft books. It is even applicable to those interested in sociology in that our fascination with these things as children continues into adulthood. It is a part of our society. I did a report on this book for a college psychology class that was well-received and it sparked a very interesting discussion. I really enjoyed the fact that the author doesn't get bogged down in technical shop-talk. It really is written in plain English, and explains the concepts very clearly. I found the clinical examples intriguing. This is easily one of my favorite psychology books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    While the intention of this book is to explain and explore the value of different types of violent entertainment for kids, I ended up gaining insight into myself. As Jones discusses the ways kids use violent entertainment to safely explore their own violent feelings, to find a sense of control in a chaotic and out of control world, to relieve stress in a risk free environment, I found myself realizing why I had been (and still am) drawn to this type of entertainment. Like almost everyone, there While the intention of this book is to explain and explore the value of different types of violent entertainment for kids, I ended up gaining insight into myself. As Jones discusses the ways kids use violent entertainment to safely explore their own violent feelings, to find a sense of control in a chaotic and out of control world, to relieve stress in a risk free environment, I found myself realizing why I had been (and still am) drawn to this type of entertainment. Like almost everyone, there are times in my life where I've struggled with feeling powerless or helpless or full of anger. And I used this make-believe violence as a mechanism to cope with these struggles.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt Sautman

    I expected more from this book. As time goes on, much of Jones's argument is no longer novel. His conclusion is generally well-accepted, and, although there are those who continue to buy into the idea that violent media inspires violence, the book seems far less relevant now. I came cross this book because Marc DiPalo references it in War, Politics, and Superheroes, but DiPalo sees more in this book than I do. Like Men of Tomorrow, this book suffers from the fact that Jones writes for a popular I expected more from this book. As time goes on, much of Jones's argument is no longer novel. His conclusion is generally well-accepted, and, although there are those who continue to buy into the idea that violent media inspires violence, the book seems far less relevant now. I came cross this book because Marc DiPalo references it in War, Politics, and Superheroes, but DiPalo sees more in this book than I do. Like Men of Tomorrow, this book suffers from the fact that Jones writes for a popular audience at the expense of analysis.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    This book is an absolute must-read for anyone with kids, especially for those of us who have loudly proclaimed that they will never let toy guns in the house. The author shows how pretend violence is a vital tool for children to work out their fears, and that repressing all violent thoughts and urges is likely to do more harm than good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott Robins

    Started out interesting but felt it was saying the same things over and over again. Moved beyond what I had expected the book to be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gina Valdez

    I wish I would have read this book when my kids were little and not 17 and 21. However, it gave me a perspective on just how important play is to kids, including toys guns, monsters, and video games. Mr. Jones is in such a good position to give his opinion through his interactive art workshops with young people. His back ground as a comic book writer also provides the reader with a great starting point. When adults make wipe sweeping declarations about violence and entertainment, they never stop I wish I would have read this book when my kids were little and not 17 and 21. However, it gave me a perspective on just how important play is to kids, including toys guns, monsters, and video games. Mr. Jones is in such a good position to give his opinion through his interactive art workshops with young people. His back ground as a comic book writer also provides the reader with a great starting point. When adults make wipe sweeping declarations about violence and entertainment, they never stop to ask the kids why. Nobody bothers to ask kids why they like violent video games, or why they shoot their brother with their finger used as a "gun". But Mr. Jones has done that. And he helps you understand what this crazy world that us "adults" have created looks like through the eyes of a very young person.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roger Scherping

    This is a fascinating book. Throw out everything you hear from the media or from the "average person" and listen instead to an expert on child development. He says that toy guns, rough play, and video games don't make kids violent. For kids, these things are play, and through them they learn to deal with the world and understand and express themselves. For the most part, that's simply as far as it goes. Kids aren't nearly as impressionable as we're told. I'm sure this book will be hard for many r This is a fascinating book. Throw out everything you hear from the media or from the "average person" and listen instead to an expert on child development. He says that toy guns, rough play, and video games don't make kids violent. For kids, these things are play, and through them they learn to deal with the world and understand and express themselves. For the most part, that's simply as far as it goes. Kids aren't nearly as impressionable as we're told. I'm sure this book will be hard for many readers to accept as it goes against their accepted beliefs. Our society so solidly believes that violent content is by definition bad. Most people adopt the simple viewpoint that, "It seems true, therefore it must be true" and don't investigate before forming an opinion. The reader should open his mind to learning from an expert.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    "I did feel that Killing Monsters became repetitive after a while (there’s that phrasing again); the book could probably have lost 50 to 100 pages and been just as effective. Another factor for my lack of interest of rereading the same conclusions could be because I read this shortly after the Las Vegas mass shooting; knowing I was going home to read about more violence and mass shootings that took place in schools didn’t make this a book I was particularly itching to continue. The point of view "I did feel that Killing Monsters became repetitive after a while (there’s that phrasing again); the book could probably have lost 50 to 100 pages and been just as effective. Another factor for my lack of interest of rereading the same conclusions could be because I read this shortly after the Las Vegas mass shooting; knowing I was going home to read about more violence and mass shootings that took place in schools didn’t make this a book I was particularly itching to continue. The point of view of the book made it feel callous in the wake of what had happened, but I recognize that this was purely circumstantial." - https://thepastduebookreview.com/2017...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nikolay Manchev

    This is a good book, and the author did his homework. However, he constantly mixes results from proper studies with anecdotal evidence, thus undermining his own claims. He also often cites academic papers, but then jumps to conclusions which the papers do not support. It would have been much better if this was written as a systematic review. Unfortunately, it is evident that the author lacks the proper background/skills to do so. Nevertheless, the book is valuable as a very high level overview o This is a good book, and the author did his homework. However, he constantly mixes results from proper studies with anecdotal evidence, thus undermining his own claims. He also often cites academic papers, but then jumps to conclusions which the papers do not support. It would have been much better if this was written as a systematic review. Unfortunately, it is evident that the author lacks the proper background/skills to do so. Nevertheless, the book is valuable as a very high level overview of the subjects and for its detailed references.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    If you enjoy games, fantasy fiction, and anything make-believe, and wonder why the world has gone two ways about it, this is a must-read. It helps you walk out of the mindset of pinning blame on our basic need to role-play, and focus on why kids (and big kids/grown-ups) get carried away by their indulgences in today's world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    Jones put together quite the thought provoking study about attitudes towards children's playstyles and how it affects them later in life. It made me question my attitudes towards how I engage with youth and I believe I've gained some insights into better interactions

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Once I found out that this author was convicted of (and currently incarcerated for) possession of child pornography, I could not read any more. The premise and thesis of the book is interesting, if repetitive.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vlad GURDIGA

    This is a thoughtful and sane-thinking book that can give peace of mind to any parent or other person that has interest in learning how kids learn, develop, and orient themselves in this world.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Solveig Singleton

    A sound and thoughtful take on pretend weapons, war games, video games, and other things that we blame and avoid without good reason.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zita

    Read this for use in a research project. Strong analysis and argument about the meaning and value of appropriate make believe violence for children, very interesting and surprisingly reassuring.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brent McGregor

    Excellent book. How simulated violence teaches boys how to cope and confront evil to the benefit of society.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    What a compelling argument for us to listen to the kids/youth in our lives rather than assuming we know why they play or watch violent images. I have always struggled with the level to which I allow play fighting and shooting games. This made me re evaluate that all over again. I read this book in one night (yes I skimmed parts) - and i am not a voracious reader.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    The full title of the book here is Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, and in it author Gerard Jones works out a thesis that exposure to violence --especially fantasy violence-- is not unhealthy to children, but actually critical to proper emotional, social, and mental development. It's the inverse of the "violent media makes violent kids" angle that most of us are used to hearing, and it's fairly interesting. Basically, Gerard's book boils down t The full title of the book here is Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, and in it author Gerard Jones works out a thesis that exposure to violence --especially fantasy violence-- is not unhealthy to children, but actually critical to proper emotional, social, and mental development. It's the inverse of the "violent media makes violent kids" angle that most of us are used to hearing, and it's fairly interesting. Basically, Gerard's book boils down to the fact that when kids watch violent media, it helps them develop emotional coping mechanisms to work through the stressful and frightening things in their lives. When a kid picks up a coat hanger, points it at her playmates and pretends that it's a gun she's not practicing for some future school shooting as much as coping with stressors in her life by feeling powerful and in control. The key is that the kid knows it's make believe and can tell the difference between, say, cracking someone on the head with a bat and having a mock sword fight with the empty cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels. It's all about facing and triumphing over their imaginary monsters. Gerard returns again and again to the point that kids are attracted to things that make them feel powerful in the face of what we adults may have forgotten is a very intimidating world. Whether it's Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Pokemon, Superman, or professional wrestlers, kids dig it because humans like to feel powerful. Jones even hits some impressive insights when he talks about why pop idols like Britney Spears infatuate little girls so much: she is, in some very important ways, just like the ass kicking Power Rangers. Spears moves around the stage with powerful, kinetic energy, with backup dancers and even the camera reacting extravagantly to every kick, punch, and hip thrust in her routine. Girls like that kind of power, and they like pretending to have it. It's just in a different package. This is just one example of the kinds of things that Killing Monsters presents in ways that I wasn't used to, and I enjoyed seeing different perspectives and conclusions. Jones mixes in reports from his own workshops that he's done with children of various ages with real research done by psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists. And for someone not trained in as a scientist, Jones displays an impressive amount of acumen for understanding and critiquing research on the effects of violent media. Even though he may use different terms, I often caught Jones talking about things like the confirmatory information bias, overgeneralization, and selection bias in the research he examined. So while I'm not about to sit down with my 4-year old daughter to watch the Die Hard trilogy with her, Killing Monsters has made me rethink some of my assumptions and I'm not about to freak out just because she points her fingers at me, makes "pew! pew!" sounds, and gleefully shouts "I KILLED YOU!" Instead, I'll just clutch my chest and fall down. She loves that.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This book is a personal reading choice, recommended by an LIS professor and friend, and NOW SUPER FAMOUS COMICS RESEARCHER WHOOOOOOOO *applause*, Carol Tilley. She said on Twitter that she wished everyone would read this book and stop freaking out over kids running around playing “pretend we’re the good guys and you’re the bad guys and we kill you” games. So I read it. Killing Monsters: Why Kids Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, is ten years old, but perhaps even more relevan This book is a personal reading choice, recommended by an LIS professor and friend, and NOW SUPER FAMOUS COMICS RESEARCHER WHOOOOOOOO *applause*, Carol Tilley. She said on Twitter that she wished everyone would read this book and stop freaking out over kids running around playing “pretend we’re the good guys and you’re the bad guys and we kill you” games. So I read it. Killing Monsters: Why Kids Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, is ten years old, but perhaps even more relevant today. Gerard Jones goes through clinical evidence, mass longitudinal studies, conversations with psychologists and researchers and other experts, and personal testimony from parents and ex-children, and shows how pretend violence (in make-believe games, video games, television, pop culture, music, toys, etc.) actually helps foster healthy psychological development by allowing children to act out (in a way they understand) and can gain power over their fears, anxieties, demons, and worries. Controversy, yes. But it’s also a well-reasoned argument that got me, an ex-repressed child who became a goody-goody and never went through a “rebellion” phase, to reconsider my opinions on toy squirt guns, Power Rangers, first-person shooters, Britney Spears, and basically all the things in my childhood that I wasn’t allowed to see or play with. The book is a bit dated (published in 2003, it basically documents 90s pop culture and doesn’t really look at later issues like the widespread Internet and social media explosion and only touches on 9-11 and not later instances of real-world violence reaching kids through the news) and oriented towards parents, but it still is helpful for educators, librarians, and the public in general. It definitely acknowledges criticisms against its argument but puts forth that kids understand the different between real and pretend better than we think, and that adult anxieties about play that resembles real violence makes kids more anxious about their play and don’t actually help. Additionally, this play allows them to feel powerful, in control, and invincible against issues in their life that they cannot control, and helps them find reassurance and calm in the face of more and more violence and adult anxiety about our world and our children. And then Carol and I contacted Jones on Twitter and learned that although he’s currently working on a project about cultural censorship, he hopes to one day update this book, which will be awesome. The more people read this, the more sensible in the brain we can become as a society. Approach this book with an open mind and be ready to re-think your own assumptions about how to help our kids grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. TL;DR – 4/5. Read it. Everyone should read this. Instead of panicking about pretend violence that kids have been playing since the beginning of civilization, we can understand that playing Avengers or Power Rangers or Call of Duty doesn’t translate to psychopathic actual violence-perpetrator, and maybe we’ll have more faith in our kids.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Violent games, movies and comics are good for children according to the author of Killing Monsters, Gerard Jones, and blaming it for problems can affect emotional development. I'm not sure about the being good for children part, but he makes a good case for the importance of this type of thing while they are growing up. His biggest reason is that fantasy in media is a safe place for kids to learn how to deal with violence, fear and the emotions that go along with it. When they encounter these ty Violent games, movies and comics are good for children according to the author of Killing Monsters, Gerard Jones, and blaming it for problems can affect emotional development. I'm not sure about the being good for children part, but he makes a good case for the importance of this type of thing while they are growing up. His biggest reason is that fantasy in media is a safe place for kids to learn how to deal with violence, fear and the emotions that go along with it. When they encounter these types of things in real life they'll be more emotionally prepared. So Halo is basically a vaccine for the bully they're sure to encounter some time in their life. He also takes time to show how ridiculous studies are that tie violent media to actual violent children. Violence for children and violence for adults aren't exactly the same thing, it doesn't have the permanence to children that it might to adults. And playing a violent video game may help a child understand that they can have some control over violence and it doesn't have to be something that overwhelms them. It may be more important for us as parents to ask our kids why they like certain things in video games or movies rather than assume if it's violent our children could only like it for that violence. The book has plenty of analysis and study in it, but at times the Jones focuses too much on his own experience, which I dont' really care about. There is plenty here to back up his ideas, but I'd rather have more of that and less of what he thinks about it. Of course the book is more interesting with his personal views, so maybe they traded a dry scientific book for something a little more interesting with analysis and facts mixed with personal anecdotes. I already shared many of his views, but it was still interesting to read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pete Welter

    While I never bought into the "violent media makes all kids violent" idea - conflicting research and too many counter-examples - Jones explores the topic in great depth. It definitely expanded my thinking on the topic, moving me from the "it doesn't hurt anything" to an appreciation of the important function of make-believe violence in kids' development. There's a reason make-believe violence is universal and timeless, and it's not just entertainment. One of his major points is that as adults, we While I never bought into the "violent media makes all kids violent" idea - conflicting research and too many counter-examples - Jones explores the topic in great depth. It definitely expanded my thinking on the topic, moving me from the "it doesn't hurt anything" to an appreciation of the important function of make-believe violence in kids' development. There's a reason make-believe violence is universal and timeless, and it's not just entertainment. One of his major points is that as adults, we often look at violent media through the lens of our adult experience in the world, and project that understanding onto kids, who we often view as passive viewers of the media. When we instead look at make-believe violence from the point of view of kids (as Jones has done his work with kids), the perspective is quite a bit different. Instead of being passively brainwashed, the vast majority of kids use make-believe violence in movies, games, and books to play and experiment with experiences they can't or aren't ready to handle in the real world. They also get to experience having power that, as children, they almost entirely lack in their lives. And yes, kids know the difference between make-believe and the real world, sometimes more than their parents. One of my other favorite chapters had to do with girls and the place of powerful, sexy female characters that have become increasingly prevalent. Again, he does a nice job of looking at those characters (and even Britney Spears - the book was written in 1992) from the kids' perspective, one that makes a lot more sense than the prevailing "just a sex object" point of view. Whether you believe what I've described or not, the book is worth a read to stretch your point of view on the subject. It's well-written and balanced, and including points of views from a number child psychologists, educators, and other child specialists.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Winddancer

    Still reading, but so far rather compelling arguments for make-believe violence in children's play and lives. My only question for this book so far is that, early on the author makes a point that the violence in media isn't all appropriate for every child, but it's not clear to me how that is supported through the chapters so far. A lot of what the author proports makes sense, though, especially as I see kids play with things they can't control or are afraid of. Play makes these big scary feelin Still reading, but so far rather compelling arguments for make-believe violence in children's play and lives. My only question for this book so far is that, early on the author makes a point that the violence in media isn't all appropriate for every child, but it's not clear to me how that is supported through the chapters so far. A lot of what the author proports makes sense, though, especially as I see kids play with things they can't control or are afraid of. Play makes these big scary feelings controllable. That I do get. Okay, finished. THe book, while structured in its arguments did leave me with more than a few questions, hence no change in stars. THe author demands that we have empathy with the angry kids who play violent video games. He suggests we play the games with the kids, but after that, there is precious little to go on. I found myself asking "how?" more often than I would have liked for someone with such a strong argument. How does my empathy magically help kids who are so angry at themselves, at adults, at society, so scared of feeling angry, or violent, or confused at the mixed messages liking violent media is given by a society of adults who fear violent kids--how does my empathy, my sitting down and playing these games, listening to their frustrations, how does that turn the tide for them? There were not a lot of examples explaining that. There was a lot to show that when adults fear monger (that's so violent, it's going to make you violent, etc.) it (durgh) sends kids either running TOWARD the violent media, or questioning themselves: I like this stuff, but so-and-so adult says it's bad, so does that mean I'm bad because I like it? And they genuinely do like it, because it gives them power. I get that. But again, the author reiterates, "come to these kids, their tastes in violent media, with empathy. Listen to them." But, then what?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carol Mann Agency

    From Publishers Weekly "Violent entertainment is good for kids, and demonizing it can do great harm to their emotional development, claims Jones (Honey, I'm Home!) in this provocative and groundbreaking work. Drawing on his experience as a parent and as a creator of children's cartoons, as well as interviews with dozens of psychologists and educators, Jones forcefully argues that violent video games, movies, music and comics provide a safe fantasy world within which children learn to become famil From Publishers Weekly "Violent entertainment is good for kids, and demonizing it can do great harm to their emotional development, claims Jones (Honey, I'm Home!) in this provocative and groundbreaking work. Drawing on his experience as a parent and as a creator of children's cartoons, as well as interviews with dozens of psychologists and educators, Jones forcefully argues that violent video games, movies, music and comics provide a safe fantasy world within which children learn to become familiar with and control the frightening emotions of anger, violence and sexuality. He debunks studies linking violent media with violence in society and argues that children clearly understand the difference between pretend and reality. Providing realistic and helpful advice, Jones says parents need to learn to differentiate between what violent games mean to children and what they mean to adults, and to stop imposing their understanding of them on children. Adults may be horrified at the literal meaning of a video game, but children are far more interested in its emotional meaning; "through identifying with a fantasy figure who displays intense sexuality, wields destructive power, and exudes heroism, kids can help themselves feel more control over these forces." Jones speaks to adult fears of the power of popular culture and cautions that "entertainment has its greatest influence when it's speaking to something that isn't otherwise being addressed in a child's life." To lessen the impact, adults should "model nonaggression, empathy, respect, a clear distinction between fantasy and reality, and the integration of aggression and other scary feelings." Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    I'm not 100% sure how to feel about this book. Many sections do feel right on, speaking about the usefulness of violent and intense entertainment as catharsis for children. This calls all the way to Plato vs. Aristotle where Plato wanted to ban entertainers from his utopian Republic because they might give the populace dangerous ideas and Aristotle supporting katharsis (in the Greek). Was I injured by my mother's "no guns" policy? I certainly worked around it... 1 squirt gun per summer meant I go I'm not 100% sure how to feel about this book. Many sections do feel right on, speaking about the usefulness of violent and intense entertainment as catharsis for children. This calls all the way to Plato vs. Aristotle where Plato wanted to ban entertainers from his utopian Republic because they might give the populace dangerous ideas and Aristotle supporting katharsis (in the Greek). Was I injured by my mother's "no guns" policy? I certainly worked around it... 1 squirt gun per summer meant I got my hands on one that looked like a Tommy-gun... sticks, folding rulers, tennis rackets, and anything else stood in for guns at need... Dad's house had different rules with poorly made, spring-powered paint-guns given as Christmas gifts to me and my step-brother. I prided myself on my non-violence as a kid. Maybe that was one of the many things that helped brand me as an outsider in suburban Watertown - but there were so many other factors or greater weight. Now I'm a amateur WWII buff and a fan of Pulp-style adventure. I'm more willing to justify violence than I was as a child. Amanda and I are looking for a (preferably all-female) Krav Maga or Akido class for May - but I'd also love to see her supplement that with Parkour. Jones is a little too much of an apologist for modern culture for my taste, but his point that anti-violence crusades are based on poor science and probably do more harm than good rings true to my ears. Nothing is just one thing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Thompson

    This is the book that made me chill out about Dan playing Call of Duty and the kids wanting to play "Bad Guys." He does a good job of digging into the studies that warn against media violence and explaining the way they were conducted and how the research isn't always what it seems. I was really skeptical to read this book because I thought it was Dan trying to justify letting the kids play with wooden swords. It sort of was but I find that I agree with him. Fantasy violence (to an extent) helps This is the book that made me chill out about Dan playing Call of Duty and the kids wanting to play "Bad Guys." He does a good job of digging into the studies that warn against media violence and explaining the way they were conducted and how the research isn't always what it seems. I was really skeptical to read this book because I thought it was Dan trying to justify letting the kids play with wooden swords. It sort of was but I find that I agree with him. Fantasy violence (to an extent) helps kids feel a sense of power and offers a good opportunity to teach the difference between fantasy and reality... to parents. When we see our kids acting out war games, we think of real war and all the things we know as adults when what our kids are doing is fantasizing and they're not really gonna grow up to be killers. I learned a lot from this book and agree with a good portion of it. I just don't agree with the extent to which he allows for violent media in the home. I think every case is different but there are certain things that I just think take things too far and take away from the peaceful spirit of the home. Some things should never be enacted. He doesn't draw any real lines and that's where I disagree.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.