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Switching Kids Away From Violent TV May Lower Aggression
Date:2/18/2013

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Two studies, one from the United States and the other from New Zealand, add more fuel to the long-standing claim that exposure to television -- especially violent TV -- can harm children.

The studies aren't definitive, however, and each offers a different view of TV's impact on kids.

The New Zealand study, for example, looked at a group of children who grew up to have a high rate of criminal convictions and found those who watched the most TV had the most problems.

In the American study, however, preschool children randomly assigned to watch educational and "pro-social" shows appeared later to be better behaved than kids who watched regular programming.

"It's not just the bad behaviors that they get from TV. They can get good behaviors, too," said the U.S. study's lead author, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

For a variety of reasons, researchers have had a hard time figuring out whether TV is actually harmful to kids. If children watch a lot of violent TV and then misbehave or become violent, it could be because they're naturally drawn to that kind of programming and not directly influenced by it, experts say. Or something else, such as parenting or genetics, could explain things.

The New Zealand study tracked 1,037 children into adulthood (age 26) to see what happened to them. They were born in 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island.

The investigators found that those who watched the most TV when they were between the ages of 5 and 15 grew up more likely to have a criminal conviction or have an antisocial personality disorder. The study doesn't definitively prove that watching TV caused criminal activity or aggression, but the researchers found that other factors (including poverty level
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