A Chip of Fools?

Presents Norwegian's campaign for education against visual violence. Implementation of the campaign; Views on America's so-called V-chip to enhance violent in the homes; Views regarding Norwegian's campaign.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published May 1, 1997 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

People everywhere are concerned about media violence. But while Americans will rely on the so-called V-chip to block violent programs in the home. Norwegians have opted for education. The first country in the world to enact a campaign against visual violence, Norway aims to breed individual responsibility--even among broadcasters and filmaker--rather than impose censorship.

In the innovative campaign, schools teach kids skills for interpreting visual imagery. Students look into who makes a film, who it's for, and what gets left out (namely the messy, painful consequences of violence). They also learn how media messages are made by creating their own videos. "Norway is saying it wants a debate on violence," says the University of Oslo's Ola Erstad. who is studying the media's impact on kids.

In contrast, by embracing the V-chip the United States is, in effect, blaming broadcasters for kids' viewing habits. But that's unfair, insist Norse researchers. When youngsters choose a heavy menu of violence, it's "an across-the-board marker of bad conditions at home," says Anita Werner, Ph.D., head of Oslo's Mass Media Institute. "When no one monitors what children watch, they are in danger for other reasons. There's a lack of caretaking."

ILLUSTRATION