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HHS HealthBeat (April 1, 2013)

Watching what the kids watch

Children watching television

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Change the Channel

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Preschoolers can learn by watching, and a study indicates that the media their parents let them watch can influence whether they’re aggressive or cooperative.

At Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Dimitri Christakis looked at data on 3- to 5-year-old children of 565 parents who kept track of what their kids watched.  About half the parents had their kids watch programming that the researchers had vetted to emphasize nice behavior and not being aggressive.

Christakis says their kids showed less aggression and more good social behavior six months and a year later. So he says: 

“One of the central findings of this study is that it should not just be about turning off the television. It should be about changing the channel.”

The study in the journal Pediatrics was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: April 1, 2013