Kids Probably Shouldn't Watch Violent TV
> 4/12/2006 3:37:34 PM

It may just be me, but it seems that there isn't a whole lot of opposition to the idea that kids shouldn't be watching violent material on TV, and certainly shouldn't be watching anything violent without supervision. Somehow, this "hot topic" continues to support an amazing amount of research, a good deal of which appears in this month's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Areas of study ranged from "Health Related Outcomes" to "Sexual Initiation" to "Dietary Intake."

Amazingly, from this cornucopia, the Washington Post picked out one article for consideration in yesterday's health section. The study focuses on the link between social isolation and viewership of violent television. Head researcher David Bickham came to the following conclusion:

The more time that children spent viewing violent programs, the less time they spent with their friends. While this study cannot determine the direction of effects for this relationship, a cyclical process between violent media and peer integration best explains the findings. To optimize social development and mental health, children's access to violent media should be limited.

By looking at diaries of children's viewing time, researchers were able to piece together a more accurate picture of how violent programming can effect a child's inter-personal relationships. Although they could not determine why, children who viewed violent television spent less time with friends then did children who didn't view as much violence on TV.

Bickham said there is no way to know whether collective viewing might encourage or discourage antisocial behavior or peer problems.

Nor does it demonstrate cause and effect, he added. "This just shows relationships" between violent viewing and peer isolation, he said, not causation.

At the risk of really hammering this subject into the ground, the major idea that comes out of this study seems to be that, as previously suspected, violent television is bad for kids. To what extent it's bad, and in what manner, continues to be up for debate. My question is do we need to continue researching as voraciously down this line of investigation? It just seems, and this month's Archives is proof enough, that we're beating a dead horse at this point. Just to make sure no one got confused along the way, the end of the WaPo story contains this slice of brilliance:

That means monitoring what children are watching, not turning on the set in the morning and leaving it on all day and not allowing children to watch shows meant for adults, such as "CSI" or "The Sopranos."

Let's be honest, if you're kids are watching CSI and the Sopranos, you're either dealing with some outrageously precocious kids or you'll be receiving a visit from child services in the near future. Let's hope it's the former, but do our best to avoid the latter.

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