PARENTAL CHOICES

ACT 1, SCENE 1
INT. LIVING ROOM OF SUBURBAN HOME- LATE NIGHT

Mother (Susan) is alone in her living room watching television. A late night news report comes on about media violence and children.

NEWS REPORTER
Do you feel that media becomes more graphic violent every day? Well it’s not just your imagination.

SUSAN
You can say that again.

NEWS REPORTER
Here are the facts: Media violence is especially damaging to children under the age of 8 because they cannot easily distinguish between what is reality and what is fantasy. Research indicates that when they are exposed to media violence, kids can become more aggressive, become insensitive to violence, have more nightmares, and develop a fear of being harmed.

Susan turns up the volume of her television, intrigued by the report. She yells to her husband to come watch the television.
SUSAN
Mike! Hun, come watch this, will you?

Mike enters the room and sits with his wife on the sofa.

MIKE
What are you watching?

SUSAN
A report about children and media violence.

Their attention goes back to the television.

NEWS REPORTER
When kids watch television and play games depicting violence, studies show it can lead to harmful acting out and even bullying. The more aggressive the behavior kids see, the more it becomes an acceptable way to solve problems. They may even become less sensitive to those who suffer from real violence- a phenomenon known as desensitization.

Mike turns off the television and turns to his wife.



MIKE
All of these consumer reports are always loaded with “this study says” and “an expert quoted”… It’s all bologna. I’m not sure how credible I think these reports are.

SUSAN
You don’t think that Adam watching people being shot and murdered on TV has any harmful effects? I do! He’s going to grow up thinking all of this is reality.

MIKE
I think that’s a little melodramatic Suz. It’s TV, and I’m pretty sure Adam can tell the difference between TV shows and what’s happening in our little hometown.

SUSAN
I think maybe we should cut back on him watching TV and playing those video games- just for a little at least.

MIKE
(speaking sarcastically) Are we going to take away his squirt guns too? C’mon…

SUSAN
That’s actually not the bad of an idea…
ACT 1, SCENE 2

EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD PLAYGROUND- MID AFTERNOON
Parents converse together as their children play. Susan starts conversation about the news report she saw the night before.

SUSAN
Did anyone see the news report last night on Channel 6? It was about media violence and its effects on children.

MARIE
Yeah I actually did watch that- kind of scary if you ask me.

JOE
My wife and I were discussing it this morning. Seems to me like everyone is trying to find someone to blame other than themselves for their children’s bad behavior.

SUSAN
I mean, I agree that parents need to look at their own parenting abilities before pointing the finger only at the media… but still. I can see how watching rape, shootings and murders could be extremely harmful for these kids. Do your kids play violent video games too?


MARIE
Tommy has been playing this one shooting game a lot on his Xbox…

JOE
All of the kids play these games now. That doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy.

SUSAN
Mike and I decided to limit Adam’s video game playing and TV watching for a little. I think we’re even going to take away his toy guns. It seems so weird to let him “kill” people.

JOE
I played cops and robbers all the time when I was little- sometimes I was even the robber shooting at a cop. Doesn’t mean I go around shooting police officers now. It was just fantasy, something to have fun with.

MARIE
I agree- I think we have to give children more credit. Tommy likes playing with toy guns but not in a vicious way. I see him playing and he seems so sure of himself. I think it helps his confidence.

SUSAN
I can see that. Adam isn’t that great at sports but he sure can chase people around pretty well. I guess having a gun is similar to wands in Harry Potter… and we don’t condemn them even though they too.

The parents stop and watch their children playing for a little. The kids seem to be playing “cops and robbers” as they speak. Tommy (MARIE’s son), Adam and Claire (JOE’s daughter) run around pretend shooting each other with their hand-made guns.
ADAM
POW! I got youuu!

TOMMY
Ahhh! You got me, but I’ll never surrender!

CLAIRE
Get him Adam! Let’s take him to jail!

Claire and Adam grip onto Tommy’s arms, playfully leading him to “jail”. The parents look back at each other laughing at their children’s imagination.
SUSAN
It’s good to see Claire joining right in there with the boys. I was always too shy to play a little rough.


MARIE
I had 3 brothers so it was kind of forced upon me when I was growing up.

JOE
Yeah, Claire’s mother and I think it’s good for her. We don’t want her growing up to be afraid to get a little dirt on her. I read an article that said girls play fighting is healthy for them- that it’s a way for them to express some aggression in a more positive way than becoming aggressive through forming cliques and being emotionally aggressive.

SUSAN
Wow, I never thought about that. Girls can be tough little cookies too.

MARIE
Yeah, I've heard about rough play being good for girls today. Seems like they have so many other negative influences in media about their self image and what not. Rough play seems like a good distraction from all of that.

SUSAN
You’re right Marie- girls Claire’s age shouldn’t even be worrying about the way they look, let alone comparing them to the way models and actresses look.

ACT 1, SCENE 3

INT. KITCHEN OF SUBURBAN HOME- NIGHT
Susan and her husband sit down with their son Adam at the kitchen table after dinner. They want to discuss media violence with him.
SUSAN
Adam hun, your Dad and I want to talk to you.

ADAM
What about Mom? Am I in trouble?

SUSAN
(laughing) No hun, we just want to talk about guns and violence.

MIKE
We want to make sure you understand how dangerous guns can be- and that even though you see it on TV a lot, guns aren’t something to play with.

ADAM
I knowww. I know they can kill and hurt people.

SUSAN
What is it that you like so much about pretend playing with your guns? What’s fun about it?

ADAM
I just like how exciting it is- it’s so fast and makes me feel like a superhero.

MIKE
But you know that in real life you can’t use guns when fighting with people. It’s not safe, right?

ADAM
Yeah I know Dad. I just like playing cops and robbers with my friends.

SUSAN
And that’s fine! We want you to have fun and use your imagination, as long as you know what’s pretend and what’s real honey.

ADAM
Does this mean I can start playing my video games again?!

Mike looks at his wife, and Susan nods an OK.

MIKE
Yes you can, but let’s not get too crazy with it. An hour a day max.

ADAM
Yes! Can I go play now?

SUSAN
Yeah, go ahead honey.
Adam runs from the table into the living room to play his video games.

SUSAN
Well that went well, I think.

MIKE
Yeah but I was just thinking about how we put a time limit on him. We can’t control what he does at school or what he does at friends’ houses.

SUSAN
Well we’ll never be able to monitor everything he sees or plays. But I’m happy we talked to him to see how he felt about it, and what he liked about it.

MIKE
Yeah- I think I might go join him so I can feel like a superhero too.

SUSAN
Ok, Superman.