FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to the belief of some television producers, spiking cartoons with a dose of violence doesn't make kids enjoy them more, a new study reveals.
Although an estimated 70 percent of children's TV shows now contain some degree of violent content, Indiana University researchers found that young children watching animated shows identified more with non-violent characters.
"Violence isn't the attractive component in these cartoons, which producers seem to think it is," study co-author Andrew J. Weaver, an assistant professor of telecommunications in Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences, said in a university news release.
"You don't have to cram violence into these cartoons to get kids to like them. They'll like them without the violence, just as much if not more," he added.
Weaver and his team reported their findings in the current issue of Media Psychology.
For the study, the researchers sought the opinions of 128 youngsters following exposure to a series of animated programs. The participants were between the ages of 5 and 11 (from kindergarten through fourth grade), and included as many boys as girls.
The children viewed one of four different edits of short animated pieces that ran for about five minutes and were designed specifically for the study. All were slapstick in nature, but the versions differed in terms of the degree of violence included. Afterwards, the researchers led the children through questionnaires about the different episodes.
The investigators found that violent content was actually a turn off for boys, depending on how they connected with the characters involved. In fact, the less violent the characters, the more boys identified with them and enjoyed the program at hand.
"That was a little surprising," said Weaver, who has two young sons. "There is a lot of talk about boys being more violen
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