Watching violent TV at pre-school age linked to aggression in young boys. Girls remain above the fray and unaffected.

Research from Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center – in Seattle – is confirming that watching violent television programs between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age is linked to aggressive and anti-social behaviors in boys when they reach age 7 to 9.

The journal article titled Violent Television Viewing During Preschool is Associated with Anti-social Behavior During School Age reviews data from a 40-year study of 8,000 U.S. families.

The project looked at the types of programming watched by 184 boys and 146 girls between ages 2 and 5, and anti-social behaviors between ages 7 and 10. A clear link was found between pre-school age boys who watched violent programs and their later development of anti-social and aggressive behaviors at ages 7 to 9. There was no such correlation found for girls.

“This new study provides further evidence of how important and powerful television and media are as young children develop,” said one researcher. “However, the news here is not all bad. While we found that shows like violent cartoons or football can make children more aggressive, we found no such effect for other programs such as educational ones. This points out that parents must be informed and very selective when making media choices for their children.”

The anti-social and aggressive behaviors noticed included cheating, being mean to others, feeling no regret, being destructive, disobedience at school and having trouble with teachers.

In the study, television programming such as football, many cartoons and titles like Power Rangers, Star Wars, Space Jam and Spider Man were all classed as violent entertainment because characters fight or flee from violent situations, laugh or cheer as they rejoice in violent acts, and show more violence than would be expected in the everyday life of a child.

By contrast, shows considered non-violent included programs like Toy Story, Flintstones and Rugrats. A third category of educational programming was also reviewed, such as Barney, Sesame Street, Magic School Bus and Winnie-the-Pooh.

The Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle conducts research under nine major centers. Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric referral center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. For more information about the Institute visit .

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