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TV Violence May Spur Aggression in Boys
Date:11/5/2007

Preschoolers who watched such fare more likely to act out at 7, 10, study found

MONDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Preschool boys exposed to violent television -- even cartoons -- are more likely to become aggressive later in life, researchers warn.

Their findings don't definitively prove that TV makes children act up, and girls seemed entirely unaffected by violent fare, according to the researchers. But the link does appear solid in the case of boys, said study lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"If parents are really interested in their kids' behavior, they have to be very selective and thoughtful about what their children watch," Christakis said. "That requires a fair amount of education on their part. They can't think, 'It's a cartoon, and it's harmless.' They have to be more thoughtful."

A number of studies have linked violence on television to aggression among children, but the new research is unusual, because it looked at the effects of television watching on kids between the ages of 2 and 5, Christakis said.

Working with University of Washington colleague Frederick Zimmerman, Christakis reviewed data from a study of 8,000 U.S. families. They focused on the television habits of preschoolers -- 184 boys and 146 girls. The researchers then checked up on reports of the youngsters' behavior when they reached 7 and 10 years of age.

The findings are published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Christakis' team found that for each hour a day spent watching violent TV during the preschool years, boys were three times more likely to develop behavioral problems at age 7.

It's possible that boys with aggressive tendencies may simply prefer watching violent television in the first place, of course. But the study used information about the children's early behaviors to help control for that
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