What kind of television shows do you allow your young kids to watch?
According to new research, switching channels from violent TV shows to educational programs can improve preschoolers' behavior.
The Associated Press reports on the study which was conducted by the Seattle Children's Research Institute. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at the institute, says although the results were modest, turning off violent shows may help young children avoid aggressive, destructive behavior.
Dr. Christakis says "It's not just about turning off the television. It's about changing the channel. What children watch is as important as how much they watch,"
The study involved over 500 Seattle parents, who periodically filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child's behavior.
Half of the parents were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5-year-old kids to watch shows like "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer,” and to turn off more violent programs like "Power Rangers." The rest of the parents in the study group were coached on establishing healthy eating habits for their kids.
After six months, the kids whose parents were coached on TV content showed a bit more improvement in their behavior. Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit.
Nancy Jensen, who took part with her now 6-year-old daughter, said the study was a wake-up call.
She says "I didn't realize how much Elizabeth was watching and how much she was watching on her own”
Jensen said her daughter's behavior improved after making changes, and she continues to control what Elizabeth and her 2-year-old brother watch. She also decided to replace most of Elizabeth's TV time with games, art and outdoor fun.
I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.