Scares over youth culture are not new. From comic books to video games, heavy metal to rap music, adults have long worried about the harmful effects of popular culture on children. But did you know that pinball was once banned for fears of turning kids into … wait for it … “stark raving mad gambling addicts”? Yes, pinball, the arcade game with the metal ball, flippers, bumpers and lots of flashing lights and dinging sounds.
“When Pinball Was Illegal,” a two-minute film by Retro Report from 2015, tells the forgotten and colorful story from our past.
Are fears about youth culture overblown? What lessons can we draw from the moral panic over pinball?
1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.
2. After watching, think about these questions:
What questions do you still have?
What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?
3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: Are fears about youth culture overblown?
4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)
5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.
Want more student-friendly videos? Visit our Film Club column.
Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.