This is part of a week-long series on violence and provocative themes in hit movies.)
After our discussion yesterday of the connection between violent movies and violent behavior, it seems only natural to take a look at the effects of TV violence on children.
First: What’s your personal experience? Have you observed children acting more aggressively after watching TV violence? Does repeated exposure to media violence numb or provoke children?
Psychologists, health officials, parents and policy makers have long worried about these possible effects.
The effects of TV violence aren’t the same for all children—they differ by gender and race, say psychologists in a study published last year in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
The researchers looked at the TV viewing habits, IQ, and academic performance of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, boys and girls, whites and African Americans. They asked parents and teachers to report on the children’s behaviors—acts of aggression, cruelty, and delinquency.
White girls, boys, and African American girls acted more aggressively after watching violent TV for a week.
TV violence had the opposite effect on African American boys—they acted less aggressively after the same exposure.
Why? Here’s what the researchers think might be happening. TV violence often includes punishment of offenders. This might inhibit feelings of aggression for African American boys.
Does that make sense to you?
If so, what does it say about TV violence and children—or the larger issue of race relations?
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