BE AWARE OF THE HARMFUL IMPACT OF CONTENT YOU SEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR VIEWS IN FILMS GAMES AND PUBLICATIONS
05 October 2018, Centurion. 100% of children between 10 and 11 years participating in a recent Film and Publication Board (FPB) focus group study admitted to having seen violent content. FPB in 2017/18 contained violent imagery. This is over and above user generated content that does the rounds on peer-to-peer social media networks daily and falls outside of the formal regulation net.
As a guardian of the safety of our children, the FPB is gravely concerned about the harmful impact that this growing trend of escalation in violent imagery will have on children and the broader society. This week again disturbing images of an apparent crime scene have been circulated on social media.
The debate about the impact of media on society has been going on since the time of Aristotle and we often wonder to what extent does the circulation of violent content lead to children being desensitised to violence and to them seeing it as a normal part of everyday life.
This concern is brought to sharp focus when we look at the 2018 Global Peace Index which shows that South Africa has dropped a further two places from 123rd to 125th on the list of the most violent countries in the world – out of 165 countries. This puts us in the bottom quarter with war-torn countries like Syria.
In the “overall societal safety and security” category our ranking is even worse – 20 worst ranked countries in the world. This category measures crime and social violence. Crime statistics for 2017/18 showed an increase in the murder rate. On average 56 people are murdered every day in South Africa. That is a very concerning statistic, especially when it is linked to the trend of increasing violent content in films, games and publications.
According to a paper published by optimusstudy.org.za in May 2016; a total of 784 1967 children have experienced sexual abuse, The University of Cape Town Children’s Institute noted that 1 in 3 children have reported some form of abuse. With the rise of social media and access to the internet; exposure of children to disturbing and harmful content as well as various form of cyberbullying of children has increased. Cyberbullying and exposure to disturbing and harmful content cannot be separated. Cyberbullying is one of the worst form of bullying due to the ability of the perpetrator to remain anonymous whilst inflicting emotional and psychological harm on another. Cyberbullying can have severe and negative consequences on the victims.
The FPB is currently reviewing the guidelines used to classify and regulate harmful content. Our main concern is to keep inappropriate content from reaching children or sensitive viewers.
But this is not a task that one organisation can do alone. The impact is a social one and requires a social response. We call on adults, parents and guardians to be alert:
- What content are our children being exposed to? Can we take the chance that these videos and images are not affecting them psychologically or harming their normal development?
- What are you passing around in your personal capacity on social media, and have you thought about what harm it can do before you click send or share?
- Are we responsible for raising a violent generation?
- Empower children under you care to make an informed decision on what content to consume, share and what not to.
It is top priority of the FPB to educate the general members of the public through providing consumer advice, rolling out cyber safety and child protection initiatives to the learners, conduct parents specific workshop and conduct educators training so that the online safety massage is spread across and reach everyone aiming to conscientise the public.
For more information and media enquiries contact:
Notes to the editor
The objective of the Act of 1996 is to regulate the creation, production, possession and distribution of films, games and certain publications, and more recently certain online content. This is done to provide consumer advice to enable adults to make informed viewing, reading and gaming choices for themselves and children in their care; to protect children from exposure to disturbing and harmful material and from premature exposure to adult experiences, and to make the use of children in, and the exposure of children to pornography, punishabl