The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Study suggests parents can improve kids' behaviour by switching to less violent TV shows

  • Print

SEATTLE - Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers' behaviour, 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 behaviour, 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 lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician and researcher at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

The research was to be published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 565 Seattle parents, who periodically filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child's behaviour.

Half were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5-year-old kids to watch shows like "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer" rather than more violent programs like "Power Rangers." The results were compared with kids whose parents who got advice on healthy eating instead.

At six months, children in both groups showed improved behaviour, but there was a little bit more improvement in the group that was coached on their TV watching.

By one year, there was no meaningful difference between the two groups overall. Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit.

"That's important because they are at the greatest risk, both for being perpetrators of aggression in real life, but also being victims of aggression," Christakis said.

The study has some flaws. The parents weren't told the purpose of the study, but the authors concede they probably figured it out and that might have affected the results.

Before the study, the children averaged about 1 1/2 hours of TV, video and computer game watching a day, with violent content making up about a quarter of that time. By the end of the study, that increased by up to 10 minutes. Those in the TV coaching group increased their time with positive shows; the healthy eating group watched more violent TV.

Nancy Jensen, who took part with her now 6-year-old daughter, said the study was a wake-up call.

"I didn't realize how much Elizabeth was watching and how much she was watching on her own," she said.

Jensen said her daughter's behaviour improved after making changes, and she continues to control what Elizabeth and her 2-year-old brother, Joe, watch. She also decided to replace most of Elizabeth's TV time with games, art and outdoor fun.

During a recent visit to their Seattle home, the children seemed more interested in playing with blocks and running around outside than watching TV.

Another researcher who was not involved in this study but also focuses his work on kids and television commended Christakis for taking a look at the influence of positive TV programs, instead of focusing on the impact of violent TV.

"I think it's fabulous that people are looking on the positive side. Because no one's going to stop watching TV, we have to have viable alternatives for kids," said Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston.

____

Online:

Pediatrics: http://www.pediatrics.org

___

Contact AP Writer Donna Blankinship through Twitter (at)dgblankinship

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Museum will create a conversation: Stuart Murray

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • horse in sunset - marc gallant

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think volunteers dragging the Red River is a good idea?

View Results

Ads by Google