Want to improve your child's behavior? You can start by grabbing the television remote.
In a study published this morning in the journal Pediatrics, researchers said limiting exposure to violence-laden videos and television shows encourages empathy. The study found that reducing the amount of violence watched on the tube results in a tangible reduction of violence on the playground.
The study monitored 565 Seattle-area parents and their children. While half of the parents were coached on getting their 3- to 5-year-olds to watch shows like Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer, the rest of the parents were left to their own devices—quite literally.
At six months, the research showed a "small to moderate effect" on preschoolers' behavior, showing less aggression with others. Children who watched less violent shows also scored higher on measures of social competence, a difference that persisted after one year.
"The take-home message for parents is it’s not just about turning off the TV; it’s about changing the channel,” said Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, the lead author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.