A hunger for violence
THE latest teenage book-turned-movie sensation has parents across Bundaberg raising their eyebrows as they decide whether or not to allow their teen to be exposed to the heavy themes rampant throughout The Hunger Games.
The first in Suzanne Collins' trilogy has just been released as an M-rated movie and is dividing parents on whether they will allow their children to watch.
The books tell the story of the futuristic world of Panem and heroine Katniss who takes the place of her younger sister in the brutal Hunger Games which sees 24 teenagers locked in a fight to the death for the televised pleasure of the rich Capitol.
CQUniversity senior lecturer in psychology Tania Signal said for teenagers growing up in a "normal" family environment, the movie and books were unlikely to cause harm as they were able to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
But Dr Signal said those exposed to violence or drug or alcohol abuse may become desensitised by violence and use it to solve personal issues.
"In movies the 'hero' or 'heroine' tends to get rewarded for being violent - for adolescence where violence is already part of their everyday world this modelling by
someone famous, beautiful or of high status may increase the acceptability of violence," she said.
Dr Signal warned parents against banning their teenagers from seeing the movie.
"Parents need to be away of the risks of this and talk to their children about why violence is unacceptable rather than simply banning the viewing of such media," she said.
"In reasonable doses, at an appropriate age, with guidance viewing the occasional violent movie may even lead to a learning opportunity or two."
Dr Signal said the violence that went hand-in-hand with the growing fantasy genre should not be a concern.
"Movies make these images more accessible, more real - however, in my opinion, no more risky than the average war or combat movie," she said.
But the violence does not seem to have detracted many viewers from the highly anticipated movie. During its opening weekend The Hunger Games took $9.051 million at the box office.
The Hunger Games
First in a trilogy and followed up by Catching Fire and Mockingjay
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth
Catching Fire is expected to be released late next year