It's an age-old debate. Well, at least a modern television-age (old) debate. How does violence on television impact our children? Is it a direct precursor to increased violence in our classrooms? Or, is it a reasonable means of teaching kids the difference between fantasy and reality?
Well certainly not settling the issue, a new study by scientists at Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute sheds some interesting light on the topic.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis and his team analyzed the television viewing habits of over 300 children. The children were between 2 and 5 years old at the study's outset, and their subsequent behavior was assessed again five years later.
The researchers assessed the link between watching 1 hour of violent television each day and the development of aggressive behavior. They found that children who view violence on television, especially boys, are more inclined to develop aggressive behaviors later on.
25 of the 184 boys in the study developed serious aggression-related problems. The scientists' analysis showed that each hour of violent television viewed per day tripled the likelihood the boys would be in this aggression-prone group. That's a stunning result.
What about the girls? In a quite fascinating scientific twist, the girls showed no such effect. They were both more inclined to watch non-violent content, and simply less impacted by the violent content than were the boys. Dr. Christakis theorizes that boys may be genetically pre-disposed to violence, or they may be influenced toward violence by a socialization process.
So, what's a parent to do? Well, first pay attention to what your kids watch, and make sure it's appropriate for their developing brains and psyches. Then, if you want to get really wild, sit down with your kids and read a book. Reading is fabulous for kids - and its quite good for parents as well.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about reading's positive impact on children, see this from Reading Is Fundamental.