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Study: Better TV may improve children's behavior
Local parenting group leader: Kids' TV shows subtly promote violence
ADELANTO • Joe Morales, of Adelanto, believes some TV shows and video games aimed at children send out adult messages that promote violence and premature intimacy. A newlyreleased study may prove him right.
The study shows that a reduced exposure to screen violence combined with an increase in exposure to “prosocial” programming can positively impact a child’s behavior.
But Morales said he didn’t need a study to convince him of that — his experience as a father and founder of High Desert Dads for Education have shown him that parent involvement is enough to curb aggressive behavior in children.
The study, which was released Monday by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, shows that low-income boys receive the most short-term benefit from reduced exposure to violence in media. Morales believes that in these instances, male children are more affected by the challenges of singleparent households.
“In single-parent homes, not many children have a dad that’s involved,” Morales said. “If boys are in a fatherless home, they know that mom is there, and that’s good, but that makes them the man of the house. So they take after whatever male role models are in their lives, even if it’s in the form of a video game or on a TV show.”
The main author of the study, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, said boys are at greater risk because they are both the victims of aggression and the perpetrators of aggression in real life.
Morales said even shows that are geared to children that have bits of violence or intimacy in them can do as much damage as graphic shows and video games. Morales added that shows and video games, however, cannot take all the blame for aggressive and suggestive behavior.
“It contributes and puts a curiosity for weapons and violent behavior in their head,” Morales said. “What children are not taught is the difference between what is real and what is on TV, and kids want to act it out.”
Morales believes the negative behavior learned from TV shows and video games is practiced by children on their parents.
“When you allow them to play and focus on a military game, for example, the first thing they want to do is try it out on their parents,” Morales said. “That’s who they want to try it out on first. That’s where the aggressive behavior comes from.”
Children’s shows such as “Marvin, Marvin” on Nickelodeon and “The Suite Life on Deck” on the Disney Channel are two examples Morales gives of inappropriate children’s shows that send negative messages.
Morales believes “Marvin, Marvin” promotes bullying and offensive behavior and “The Suite Life on Deck” shows young girls how to kiss.
“You can’t always limit them because they have to know what’s out there and you can’t watch them all the time,” Morales said. “And changing the channel isn’t always going to help.”
He said talking to your children about the things they watch on TV and watching or playing video games with them helps children differentiate what is real and what is not.
But Morales has one surefire solution for bettering a child’s behavior and social skills: “I say turn off the TV and play with your kids outside.”
Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.
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