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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great discovery
I recently stumbled across this book while shopping at a bookstore, and it came at a perfect time. I have a 3-and-a-half year old son that enjoys some shows that some people feel are not appropriate for young children. Shows like Power Rangers (his all-time favorite), Pokemon, and a few others.
My son goes to a Montessori School, and we have always been quite happy...
Published on January 3, 2003 by JR Hubbard

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Army of Consumer Zombies: Why Children Don't Need Violent Media and Hollywood Tie-In Products
Before you read this book, please read The War Play Dilemma: What Every Parent And Teacher Needs to Know (Early Childhood Education Series (Teachers College Pr)) (Early Childhood Education (Teacher's College Pr)). It is a fact- and research-based practical handbook for educators. Though his arguments are novel and interesting, Gerard Jones is a spokesperson for the...
Published 14 months ago by Eve Sun


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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great discovery, January 3, 2003
By 
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
I recently stumbled across this book while shopping at a bookstore, and it came at a perfect time. I have a 3-and-a-half year old son that enjoys some shows that some people feel are not appropriate for young children. Shows like Power Rangers (his all-time favorite), Pokemon, and a few others.
My son goes to a Montessori School, and we have always been quite happy with him there. One day, the head of the school pulled my wife aside and said we have a problem with my son's behavior. She stated that he was showing "aggressive behavior" and that he was the ring leader of a handful of kids that had the same problem. Our first reaction was shock and a fear that we were bad parents. Coming from someone who deals with kids all the time, you feel they would know what's best. She said that the shows he was watching were causing the problem, and that we should not let him be involved in watching those shows. That's when I started thinking about it. I asked her the next time I saw her to define aggressive behavior. She said that my son and his friends would play fight and do karate on each other. I asked if he actually ever hit anyone, and she said no. I also asked if anyone was ever hurt or if they took the playing beyond just playing. She had no answer. I even asked if they took turns winning and she said yes, and that was part of the problem!
This is when I found Killing Monsters, and I am so glad I did. The things it talks about directly related to me and my relationship with my son. I love when he watches Power Rangers, and puts on every article of clothing he owns to enhance his powerful character. He walks through the house as though he could conquer anything! He also wants us to hug and kiss him during the Barney song, and that shows another soft and incredibly gentle side that my wife and I love. Play fighting and toy swords are my son's favorite, and to have to take that away from him seemed so unnecessary.
I loved this book and read it twice. I have also passed it on to friends with children that have loved it just as much. I am a young man, only 30 years old. There are a lot of parents like myself that were raised around video games and violent movies. Taking that away doesn't solve a problem. It's all about parental involvement and education. This book reinforced what I believe is the key to a healthy child.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my mind., May 13, 2002
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
As a psychotherapist and medical school professor, I speak regularly with parents who worry about their kids' taste in entertainment. I have commiserated with them often. After all, weren't the Columbine shooters obsessed with "Doom" and similar fare? Don't images create possibilities? Gerard Jones argues against the prevailing belief that fantasy violence makes kids violent. Close study of the literature shows that teens who watch the most violent entertainment actually commit fewer serious crimes. And among the 18 boys who perpetrated school rampages in recent years, the majority showed no interest in games. Instead of asking the unanswerable: "How does violent entertainment affect kids?" Jones poses 2 more interesting questions: Why do they love what they love? and: What is the place of fantasy violence in a world that condemns it in reality? He uses his teaching experiences and 30 years of social science research to show how children use make believe to master fears and experiment with feeling strong. In "Girl Power" Jones contends that just as girls used to identify with male fantasy figures, boys are now identifying with Lara Croft and other super-heroines. In a culture in which the male imaginary has been standard--something to which girls and women needed to accomodate--this expanding set of possibilities for kids is no small triumph. While the book is targeted to parents, it's also a solid piece of scholarship, and the author is obviously as comfortable with Freud and Bettelheim as he is Batman and Mega Zords. A fine cultural critique informs his argument. ("We don't ask whether game shows predispose our children to greed or love songs to bad relationships." "Killing MOnsters" made me think of James Joyce's hearing the word "imagination" as "the magic nation" (in "Finnegan's Wake.") Gerard Jones reminds us that we're all permanent citizens of that vast and weird republic, sometimes for worse, but much more often for better.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solution to a deadlocked discussion?, June 9, 2002
By 
michaela824 (Springfield, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
I first heard of this author on a radio interview. I was intrigued by what he said, but what truly struck me was the interviewer's comment afterward; he said, in effect, that all our previous efforts to deal with the power of media and violence in children's lives haven't worked but "maybe this guy has the answer." That caught my interest, because I see so many problem-solving efforts in modern America trapped in fruitless conflicts between two sides (liberal v. conservative, free speech v. watchdogs). Two sides more invested in continuing the conflict and placing blame than making any real change. Until someone steps up with a new solution that pulls together the strengths of both sides and moves the discussion forward.
My interest and hopes were very well borne out by the author's book. I don't like violent media, and I'm inclined even after "Killing Monsters" to believe that it has many negative influences on our society. What Gerard Jones makes clear, however, is that simply asserting its negative effects with increasing anger and fear does do good for anyone. Young people interpret attacks on their popular culture as attacks on them, and so they become only more defensively attached to what we criticize. Censorship is problematic because the young people most fascinated by something forbidden will be the very ones to find it anyway; and, as Jones shows well, if it is forbidden they will be unable to discuss it openly with adults but will identify with a subculture that makes that media its core. "Overidentify" is a word Jones uses several times to describe the conditions that lead to a negative reaction to media.
This, I believe, is what the host on my local radio station was referring to: if we are to change the way young people react to media (or "harness the power of media," as Jones also says) we must begin by understanding why they like what they do and what sorts of interpretations they give it. This is why this book particularly excites me: not so much that it argues that violent media is "good" but that it opens the door to reducing its negative effects. I don't know that even the author intended this as his book's primary message (indeed, I think he often errs by downplaying the reality of violence in contemporary American society), but for those of us who are concerned the culture of violence, that may be its most important argument. I believe this may indeed be the "answer" to a circular argument that has seemed for decades to make no difference to the harsh reality of our society or the content of popular culture.
The book's tone is thorough, measured, and persuasive. My sense is that it will be of greatest interest to those who are already inclined to think about these issues, whether from a personal or philosophical point of view. I, who have no children but am very concerned about the quality of contemporary culture, found it compelling. As did a friend with two young boys. Another friend, however, found it "a bit slow." Interestingly, he confessed that he agreed with nearly all of the book's points, and said he didn't feel the need of so many thorough arguments and examples to support them. Gerard Jones has created something intriguing here: a book that may be more interesting to those inclined to disagree with his initial thesis than those who agree. That, perhaps, is the mark of a truly thoughtful and thought-provoking work.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enlightened View for all Citizens who Care about Kids, May 17, 2002
By 
Carla s. Wanner (NY, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
Killing Monster's offers educators, parents and anyone who cares about kids an important perspective that is often missing from the debate over the effects of media violence on child development: the child's. This expansive, scholarly critique of the debate asks us to put aside our automatic rejection of fantasy violence and ask: Why do kids like it so much? Are these fantasy scenarios of good and evil enabling young media enthusiasts to express their own fears and anxieties in ways that help them understand them better? At a time when the new media can alter the child's relationship to it by changing them from consumres to users, Gerard Jones encourages us to trust kids to use intense media fantasy to find and express the emotional meaning these stories have for them.
In and era in which many adults are anxious about the uncertainties of the world our children are growing up in, this book reminds us of the powerful role storytelling has played throughout history as a teacher about the capacity of humans to help and hurt each other. My hope is that this book will persuade media creators to realize that they have underestimated
children's need and desire for complex narratives. As Jones suggests, stories about age-old conflicts that limit humankinds abilty to achieve harmony in a world of individual and cultural differences can help our future citizens understand the vicissitudes of the moral dilemnas and conflicts that surrounbd us today.
Dr.Carla Seal-Wanner, a developmental psychologist and children's media developer and advocate, formerly Director of the Graduate Program in Instructional Technology and Media, Columbia University
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But What Do The Kids See?, July 19, 2002
By 
Big Dave (Boise, Idaho) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
Adults look at Eminem, or Britney Spears, or Doom, and see horrific anti-social media that might corrupt their children.
In this interesting and well-written book, Gerard Jones points out that children see something entirely different. Especially where children are not merely passive consumers, fantasy media, including violent shows and video games, are a tool that children use to very important ends -- learning to distinguish fantasy from reality, learning to organize reality, learning to overcome powerlessness and how to act when they are no longer powerless.
Jones does not champion laissez-faire parenting and the surrendering of your child to Hulk Hogan and the Spice Girls. Throughout, he suggests an active, empathetic approach to your child's media consumption.
The book is thought-provoking and a much-needed counterbalance to a great deal of hysteria.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had this book 10 years ago, July 1, 2004
In the movie X-men II, a frustrated Pyro announces "Y'know all the mutants you hear about on tv? Well I'm the worst one!" and lashes out by attacking the police cars with fireballs. This sentiment is easily understood by teenagers, who often feel accused of horrible things, so much so that they may behave horribly, because behaving well doesn't seem to change the way people view them.
There has been an association with media violence and fantasy agression leading to actual violence which has been reinforced time and time again, and I remember being a kid who listened to heavy metal and goth music, played roleplaying games, watched forbidden movies, and read comic books. As an adult I still do all of these things, and now I am a mother myself and have begun to reflect on what to allow and disallow for my child.
The basic thesis of this book is that imaginary aggression releases real angers and fears which are difficult for both adults and children to deal with. Our world is a scary place, and kids know it, and imaginary violence is a safe way of releasing these emotions.
This book does NOT condone actual violence at all. It makes wonderful points which I wish I had been able to articulate so well when I was a teenager. It is about time that we realized the differences between being afraid for our children and being afraid OF our children. The author has put together a solid, logical argument which I think can really benefit teachers and parents who are worrying themselves sick. How do children feel when they are punished for finding a nonharmful outlet for their anger? What are we teaching children when we push our own fears and anixities on them? Is a kid who is playing with a squirtgun a cold blooded murderer, or just having fun on a summer day?
We are becoming more and more scared and loosing track of reality and common sense.
Okay, let's think about this logically for a second. What video games were the Romans playing when they threw the first Christians to the lions? What rap music were the inhabitants of Salem listening too when the burned innocent women at the stake? We are afraid of the wrong things, and we are not making ourselves any safer by being more afraid. Talking to kids about how they feel and why is a much more effective deterrant to violence then forbidding them to play with toy swords. We really need to validate the way children feel to help them deal with their emotions in the exact same way we validate adults feelings in order to communicate, "I know that you are very angry because of...."
If you know someone who has adopted a Zero tolerance policy for children, please by them a copy of this book, even if they disreguard it, it would be good to give add touch of sanity to our insane world.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy kids-happy parents, May 11, 2005
By 
Marjee (BURKE, VA, United States) - See all my reviews
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After reading the book and reading most of the reviews I only have this to add: the most controversial point of this book- in my opinion- is that Jones has thought to *ask* children why they like the things they do. Much of the "Scientific" evidence out there has not bothered to do this. Kids have been curious and intrested in the topics this book studies for many generations despite the best attempts of parents to protect them. If this book is political, I have no idea what side of the spectrum Jones is on. His very method of inquiry into this subject promotes dialog between the generations; how can anyone object to that. It is not a rigorous scholarly work, but rather a talking point for an important issue. It is not outrageous to suggest that perhaps parents do not always know what is best.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at kids, violence and fantasy, April 30, 2002
By 
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
As a forensic psychologist who specializes in youth violence, I found "Killing Monsters" a must for anyone in the mental health field. It gives a different perspective on how kids use violence to ward off feelings of powerlessness--one of the main causes of kids becoming violent in the first place. In a society that expells kids for drawing pictures of guns or writing violent essays, Mr. Jones is a lone voice in the quest for rational thought on the topic of media violence and its impact on youth. The book is fabulous and well worth the purchase price!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Readable, Intelligent and Persuasive Book, April 30, 2002
By 
Diane Quintana (San Francisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killing Monsters (Hardcover)
Killing Monsters is a "must read" for parents of boys and a "should read" for parents of girls. I have looked a long time for an intelligent explanation of why violent fantasy and super-hero play is so compelling for boys (and many girls) and why "playing it out" actually prevents children from "acting it out" despite what the media and some conventional wisdom would have us believe. Of particular interest is Jones' scrutiny of studies which purport to "prove" a link between violent media and actual aggression. Not only did Jones support his thesis, but the points he made will make me look a lot closer at such study "conclusions" in the future. In summary, I found this book a compelling and informative read.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best parenting books!, July 15, 2004
By 
Dina (Fort Worth, TX United States) - See all my reviews
I am one of those people who are obsessed with reading parenting books. This is probably one of my favorites. Most parenting books leave me feeling inadequate, guilty, and depressed. No matter how wonderful we are with our children, we can't fight the evils of society. No matter how hard we work to be good parents, we're still not doing enough.
This is the first parenting book I've read that left me feeling actually HOPEFUL.
As a child, I had a VERY active imagination. I also watched a lot of television...including a lot of horror movies. The boob tube didn't ruin my imagination and the horror movies didn't turn me into a violent criminal. I always thought I was just an anomaly since the media and medical community keeps warning us about how horrible television is.
My husband also is a TV addict. And now our son loves to watch TV too. I kept worrying about it...that we were ruining our child's imagination by not throwing the TV into the trash. But after reading this book, I feel I can relax. Now I notice that yes my child watches a lot of TV. But he doesn't sit there in a trance. He watches a little, gets up and plays, watches a little more, than gets up and plays. He borrows ideas from TV and expands on it.
I also want to say that I used to be a preschool teacher. Every school I worked at had a no-gun-play rule at school. Even before reading the book, I thought it was ridiculous. Children just naturally want to play guns! As soon as you turn your head, they're turning legos and tinker toys into guns. Then catch them in the act of shooting. You ask them what they've made and they lie "A water sprayer!" I've also seen schools that forbid all super hero play. Come on, don't you think there is a reason that almost all children for the last thirty or so years have had a Batman and/or Superman obsession?
Anyway, this book should be required reading for all preschool and daycare workers.
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Killing Monsters
Killing Monsters by Gerard Jones (Hardcover - April 3, 2002)
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