Children watch less violence, more empathy, are less aggressive

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 23:30

I was interested in research that what preschoolers watch, and how their parents guide them, can lead to less violence and better social skills. As a grandparent and writer, I believe that our children are formed by how we relate to them, including reading with them.

My books focus on a relationship of a child or animal to a nurturing natural world, hoping to help model a caring relationship with nature. I would expect that other media, including television or materials on a digital pad, would fall into the same sphere of influence---selection of materials, watching together.

Research published in Pediatrics compared two groups of children 3-5 years old. Control group watched whatever they wanted, while parents of the intervention group received advice on which programs to watch. They were encouraged to watch with their children and to discuss relationship conflicts seen in the programs, and to encourage their child to consider alternatives to conflict or aggression.

Parents need to be aware that preschoolers may interpret a program differently than an older person. The parents were advised to encourage watching "prosocial" programs and to provide guidance to their children.

The results for the intervention group were a reduction in aggressive behavior and an increase in social competence, compared to the control group.

Certain Television Fare Can Help Ease Aggression in Young Children, Study Finds.--Catherine Saint Louis, NYT, 18 Feb 2013