Want Better Behaved Kids? Turn Off Violent TV
'It's not just about turning off the television': author
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2013 9:34 AM CST
A study participant, left, looks on as her son Joe, 2, is given a special treat of a little TV time Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 at their home in Seattle.    (Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers' behavior, even without getting them to watch less, a study found. The results were modest and faded over time, but may hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior, the study authors and other doctors said. "It's not just about turning off the television. It's about changing the channel. What children watch is as important as how much they watch," said the lead author.

Some 565 Seattle parents filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child's behavior. Half were coached for six months on getting their 3- to 5-year-old kids to watch shows like Sesame Street rather than more violent programs like Power Rangers. The results were compared with kids whose parents got advice on healthy eating instead. At six months, children in both groups showed improved behavior, but there was slightly more improvement in the TV group. Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit. "That's important because they are at the greatest risk" of facing violence "in real life," the author said.

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Want Better Behaved Kids? Turn Off Violent TV is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 33 comments
Mar 5, 2013 12:42 PM CST
I have never owned a TV so my sons grew up without it. I got many compliments on their behaviour as they grew up. One thing I noticed when their friends came over is that all the kids 'talked to each' and were active instead of silently sitting. One son is an Electrical Engineer and the other is a Certified Jeweler
Feb 19, 2013 3:12 PM CST
A problem here, among other things, is that no one talking about it seems to have a full understanding of what “violence” is. To be sure, the idea of harm to another, real or intended, is part of it, but another is the lack of investiture of soul, spirit, mind, intelligence, character, personality behind the act! A shallow, superficial exercise of muscle, with no real depth of thought, reason, spirit behind it. In that way, an extension of the overarching emphasis on “action” in “entertainment at the expense of depth. Characters today are all superficial, spouting little more than invective, vulgarity, statements of the obvious and orders in ways that don’t suggest a depth of personality behind it. Movies of the past used to have conversations of as many as ten separate lines or more, by people who portrayed a feeling, thinking being behind the words, and on any subject, even small ones, never requiring the magnitude of the subject to carry the conversation. Today, it’s rarely more than, “Cover me!”, “Right!”, and never once as many as ten lines. On topics, too, only gigantic and dramatic, never once about small things, also important in life. The fact is, this absence of actual depth can have an effect, too, on viewers. Make them fell robbed, empty. Maybe those who have endured it for decades, or even grew up with it, don’t recognize the abuse they are undergoing, but they are. Those who grew up with quality movies recognized the depletion of quality when movies finally all turned into garbage, 1968. Empty, vacuous characters mouthing empty, vacuous lines. Then stepping aside to let the monster be blown up. Older films like, say, “The Searchers”, “Casablanca”, “King Kong”, even the Sherlock Holmes series or “Godzilla” had violence, but as a facet in a world otherwise ruled by depth of character, emotion and thinking. Today, it’s nothing but smarmy, insipid lines;vulgarity, which constitutes grammatical animalistic growls And grunts; barely one dimensional “characters”; and explosions. Kids today see nothing outside the action filled and dramatic. Their minds don’t operate on anything more than a superficial level. And, in that background, it’s not difficult for violence to take the place of thinking; feeling, understanding. “Educational TV” today, note, is equally as emotionally, intellectually, spiritually depleted. Kids who watch movies from before 1968, which will include developing the sensibility to be able to watch five minutes without explosions, to perceive character from portrayals, to accept dialogue of ten lines or more and understand what was said, can derive immeasurably more than those inundated with the joke called “educational TV”!
Feb 18, 2013 10:51 PM CST
Better kids? Be better parents!