By Mary Rettig
April 11, 2005
(AgapePress) - An assistant professor at the University of Washington says his research shows that toddlers who watch a lot of television are more likely to become bullies in elementary school.
Dr. Frederick Zimmerman says a recent study that looked at the amount of television a group of four-year-olds watched and the effects of their viewing revealed some startling facts. For instance, he notes that, according to the study, for every hour of television a child watched per day, the child is nine percent more likely to become a bully.
Zimmerman's research suggests that children may be learning some of their bullying behavior from the TV and movies they watch. "Cartoons contain an enormous amount of violence, and this is something that has concerned experts in the area for long time," he says. "And the same could be said for feature-length animated films -- they also contain a lot of violence."
Also, the researcher observes, cartoons and animated features tend to contain "a lot of disrespectful language. And one of the features of bullying that's so salient is that it often begins with teasing and taunting." For this reason, he advises parents to be aware of the amount and type of material their children watch.
Notably, however, Zimmerman points out that, in his study, the type of the material was not a particularly significant factor in the measurable effects of media viewing on children. That is, the results appeared to have nothing to do with the type of movies or television programming a child watched.
According to the University of Washington professor, the study indicated that the "typical fare of television that children watch" has an effect on their bullying behavior. In fact, he notes, "One of the interesting things that we found was that the effect was fairly large. If you look at the difference between children who watched no TV versus children who watched the typical amount of TV -- which in our sample was about 3 and a half hours per day -- there was about a 25 percent increased risk associated with that difference."
Zimmerman, a father of two, says parents would do well to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to restrict young children to no more than two hours of TV watching per day.
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