Play with Weapons from the Perspective of 7-10 Year Boys.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Arno BALTIN, Tallinn University, Estonia
Maaris RAUDSEPP, Tallinn University, Estonia
Children's play with toy weapons is a sensitive issue in the contemporary world of growing violence and insecurity. The topic of children and weapons is ambivalent. From the perspective of responsible parents and educators children's weapon play poses several challenges: how to develop self-control in children, how to channel the content of violent imaginative play into socially acceptable form, how to avoid real harm. Incidents of school shooting by pupils are examples of alarming misuse of weapons. On the other hand, battles and gun heroes are part of popular culture that are attractive to boys at certain age. Boys identify with heroes and they often report gun carrier professions as their preferable choice for future.

We approach the topic from the viewpoint of children as active agents of socialization and play. We want to know what is the role of weapons in the boys’ lifeworld today.

What do boys know about weapons and their use in general? Which feelings are related to weapons? What is the significance of weapon handling skill? Which toy weapons are used in play? What are the rules and restrictions of using them in play? What is the preferred content of games with weapons? What are the role models and examples for using weapons? How is play with weapons regulated by adults and how is this regulation perceived by children? How do children perceive risks related to weapons?

Our study focuses on the meaning of weapons among children. Empirical material is based on group interviews with Estonian 7-10 years old boys in 2015. We use projective technique of drawing a weapon as a tool for catalyzing group discussion and for eliciting accounts of the playing practice. Complementary information from the parents enables to contextualize our findings.