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Big Bird Vs. The Power Rangers

The debate has been on-going for years.

The debate about children watching violence on TV and how it may be affecting their behaviors may finally be over, and the news is not good!  However, the future can be better!

Consider this, the average preschooler watches more than 4 hours of television a day, (well over twice as much as is recommended by professionals!) according to the American Psychological Association as well as other governing bodies of mental health care.  A new study authored by Dimitri Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute reports that the dangers do not lie so much in how much children watch on television, but what they watch matters much more!*

A quick synopsis of the study is as follows:

The parents of more than 500 children ages 3 to 5 were divided into two groups.  One half of the parents were given advice to have their children watch socially positive television shows that promote kindness, cooperation and working together such as Sesame Street.  The other half were “allowed” to continue watching whatever their normal programming was, which often included violent shows such as Power Rangers.

After approximately 6 months of watching the same amount of television by both groups, what do you guess the outcome showed?  Well, the “Sesame Street” group demonstrated much less aggression toward others than that of their peers.  Low-income boys, who, according to Chistakis, “are most at-risk of being victims and perpetrators of aggression,” were especially pronounced.

This result was seen from both groups.

If we think back, those of us that can recall television shows that always had a “moral” or “lesson” in its airing, we can remember a much more peaceful world, especially as children.  It seems that we cannot simply ignore the power of the media, television shows, music, video games, movies, etc..  As our children are being diagnosed more and more with emotional problems, disorders, and are becoming that much more work to parent, we must take any and all precautions we can to prevent negative influences!

Why not let Big Bird, Bert or Ernie help our kids to understand human kindness, empathy and all that is truly important in life?  Power Rangers and similar shows of “fight! fight! fight!” do not provide skills or role models for our kids!

Still not convinced of the potential dangers of violent influence on our children because of television?  Consider this:

Another study conducted just prior to Chistakis’ found that for “every hour of TV kids watched on an average weeknight increased their risk of landing in prison as adults by 30 percent!”  (The Week, Vol. 13, March 8, 2013).

I’m very happy to see that there is now some proof on this issue regarding our children!   We need to tell them how to get….”How to get to Sesame Street!”

*Source: Acta Pediatrica.

Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction and mental health counselor.  Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.