The Washington Post 04-23-06 Watch Violent TV, lose Friends

The Washington Post
Watch Violent TV, lose Friends
The kind of television shows children watch and whom they watch them with can
be just as important as the amount of time they spend in front of the tube,
researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, US, report in a new study that
finds an association between violent shows and peer problems.
Children who watch violent television programs—especially those who watch
such shows alone—spend less time with friends than children who watch a lot of
nonviolent programmes. Although the federally funded study could not determine
a cause-and-effect relationship, researchers suspect one exists. They suggest
that violent shows might teach and encourage aggressive behavior in children,
which in turn isolates them from their peers. And that isolation, scientists
suggest, appears to create a cycle that makes violent programming more
attractive to lonely children.
‘‘A lot of studies about violence and television deal with behavioural outcomes
that don’t resonate with people’’ because they occur years later, said David
Bickham, lead author of the new study, which involved 1,356 children and
appears in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. ‘‘We wanted
something with a real-life outcome’’ to motivate parents to consider the potential
consequences of uncensored viewing that are more immediate.
‘‘This is a very interesting and novel study,’’ said research psychologist Craig
Anderson, an expert on children and media who is a professor at Iowa
State University. There really haven’t been studies looking at TV violence and
peer relationships among children. ‘‘What they propose does make a lot of
The study, by scientists at the Harvard-affiliated hospital’s Center on