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.