A new research published in Pediatrics Journal revealed that preschool children spent less time watching violent programs when they were encouraged to replace their aggression-filled shows with empathy-building and educational programs. Around 820 families were enrolled for the study and there was no difference in television viewing time among them.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis of the Seattle Children's Research Institute and his co-authors said, "We demonstrated that an intervention to modify the viewing habits of preschool-aged children can significantly enhance their overall social and emotional competence and that low-income boys may derive the greatest benefit."
He added, "Although television is frequently implicated as a cause of many problems in children, our research indicates that it may also be part of the solution."
Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and Super Why were the 'prosocial' or educational programs viewed by the children.
Other non-violent and co-operative problem-solving shows such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse were also encouraged for viewing by children.
The programs were coded for content, ratings and pacing such as violence, gratuitous aggression and fantasy.
It was noted that the intervention group kids showed less aggressive behavior and more positive behavior in contrast to the control group. This changed effect lasted for 12 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested parents to allow their kids to watch only two to three hours of television. According to Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, it is very imperative to educate the parents and the kids about the implications of watching aggressive and violent programs on child's behavior.
Dr. Robert Hancox of the University of Otago and his colleagues said, "To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study to demonstrate long-term associations between television viewing and a broad range of antisocial behavior."
Caroline Fitzpatrick, a postdoctoral researcher at New York University said that the study did not proved that television watching can cause antisocial behavior but it can be an important factor leading to antisocial behavior.