Idiot Box Makes Kids Violent, Says Study # 11,329

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TV attack

Ever since the boob tube was invented, people have been trying to blame it for all kinds of societal ills. The result has been a near constant stream of studies by social scientists proving that TV is just bad, and especially heinous for children. ScienceDaily is reporting a new study about the effects of TV watching on three year-olds:

Three-year-old children who are exposed to more TV appear to be at an increased risk for exhibiting aggressive behavior, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Well, maybe. It appears that TV viewing among kids is at an eight year high. But if watching a lot of TV increases aggression, one might think that the deleterious effects would appear in other social statistics, not just chiefly in social psychology studies.

The University of Virginia has rounded up some recent school violence statistics and finds, that for the most part, school violence is way down. It is true that bullying statistics are up, but the researchers suggest that that may be the result of better monitoring and reporting by school officials, rather than actually measuring an increase. It is a puzzle.

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  1. Well, maybe. It appears that TV viewing among kids is at an eight year high. But if watching a lot of TV increases aggression, one might think that the deleterious effects would appear in other social statistics, not just chiefly in social psychology studies.

    Not necessarily. It is one of many factors, and maybe not the most powerful.

  2. There oughta be a law to ban TVs so we can get back to the Good Ol’ Days when nobody killed anyone else.

    1. Think of the violence I could have unleashed if only I had had this picture machine at my disposal!

      1. Thank Zeus for small favors!

    2. There were no good ol’ days when nobody killed anyone else.

  3. I’m at a much higher risk of aggressive behavior after being exposed to the Rachel Maddow Show last night, so they must have a point.

  4. Is it really the TV’s fault or is it the result of uninvolved parents using the TV as a babysitter?

  5. No, you have it all wrong. Comic books are the ONLY possible reason tha a child might misbehave.

  6. I will also admit that coming across even 5 seconds of The Vampire Diaries drives me into an inchoate rage.

  7. The Penn and Teller Bullshit episode on violence and video games was one of the more powerful anecdotal examples of the stupidity of this theory. Life and TV are not the same and stupid adults don’t get it while kids do.

    1. Modern Warfare 2 in 5 days………

    2. That show was terrific, and I found myself yelling “bullshit!” right along with Penn.

  8. The trick is that “aggression” as measured in these types of studies and violence are two very different things. Since the researchers can’t ethically put people in situations where they may actually be either on the recieving or infliciting end of “real” bodily harm, they use the propensity for actions that annoy the party they are inflicited upon, but obviously wouldn’t inflict bodily harm or even lasting discomfort – some examples of actions used to measure aggression from studies I’ve seen before are playing a startlingly loud noise and spiking a drink with hot sauce. In this study, the Child Behavior Checklist 2-3 was used – I can’t find the checklist itself, but another study using it gives “He/She is defiant” and “His/Her demands must be met immediately” as example items from the checklist, suggesting it’s more a metric of disobedience than violent tendencies.

  9. One time I whacked my brother on teh head with a spoon because I had seen John Cleese do it to Manuel on Fawlty Towers. It wasn’t as funny in real life.

    1. Well, yeah, Cleese is an experienced spoon wielder. Just keep trying, Zeb!

    2. Well who’s laughing now, spoon boy?

  10. I know someone who is convinced of the connection because “TV-watching kids don’t understand that when people are killed in reality they are actually dead”.

    1. A characteristic shared by, well, virtually every Christian in this country.

  11. Long live the new flesh!

    1. I live in a highly excited state of overstimulation.

  12. Of course the things we see on TV influence us. There’s an entire industry on Madison Avenue that is built on the idea.

  13. “Social sciences” you don’t say? And where is the science in these so called “social” sciences? Liberals are no more liberal than social science is science. The former are social engineers who seek to enslave the nation under a centralized authoritarian rule, the latter employs unscientific methods such as statistics to support the formers assertions to be true.

  14. Dick Cavett once quipped that there’s lots of comedy on TV but it doesn’t seem to make people any funnier.

    Actually, I think it’s silly to assume that TV or any other experience doesn’t have some effect on human behavior including children’s behavior. The question then occurs, so what?

  15. I have a real problem with “studies” like this. Here’s my anecdote:

    I have a son who enjoys the occasional Pokemon or superhero cartoon. In 1st grade he was suspended while playing some variation of Superheroes on the playground. You see, attempting to mimic martial arts in play when one is a clumsy 7 year old with a less than stellar degree of body awareness sometimes ends up in real kicks and punches instead of play kicks and punches. In a world of zero tolerance, when a kick or punch mistakenly connects, it’s treated as the real thing. Apparently he’d been warned a few times (this was news to me) and that day was the final straw. So the boy got a 3 day vacation from school and a mark on his permanent record that he was “aggressive”, despite attempts to explain what happened to the school.
    Yeah…we home school now.

    So the question is, in “studies” of this nature, is there any attempt whatsoever to weed out the mistakes from the genuine acts of violence? Somehow I doubt it.

  16. As the father of a 3 y.o. I feel qualified to comment on this. After the Boy watches certain tv programs, he does try to imitate the fighting. It is play, but it is aggressive.

  17. Nothing proper about your propaganda
    Fools follow rules when the set commands ya

  18. I remember when everyone on the playground was Kung Fu fighting…exposure to popular music would seem to have the same violent effect as tv…but at least our kicks were were fast as lightning…in fact, it was a little bit frightening.

  19. Present an issue superficially and you get superficial responses. I wonder how many respondents are actual parents.

    In my own experience working with children and having two boys of my own, television is not necessarily evil in itself, but it does usurp time that could be spent on more active pursuits, providing less time to hone communication skills. It is a matter of opportunity cost. What should be studied is how child viewing habits affects the parent’s engagement, which as with any engagement benefits from shared experience and a relaxed environment. Engagement based on excitement doesn’t seem to function as well. It could be investigated whether there is any correlation between the tendency of parents to use the TV as a babysitter and to minimize engagement generally.

    As for school violence and bullying, this is also a matter of opportunity, as students are scrutinized now as never before, while current programming models a great deal of sneaky or passive aggression. The full range of emotions will always exist and will out by any means necessary, but it helps when conversation is the first line of engagement.

    To me the biggest problem here is an absence of sincerity, which in pithy forums like this takes a back seat to snarky wit. Reason benefits greatly from humility.

  20. Such nervously funny comments.
    Watch a show that elicits feelings of peace, love, good, creativity, and understanding and you think and talk about how that show made you feel good, want to improve your life and attitude, patch things up, etc. Movie and TV promotions and critics extoll “the feel-good movie of the season…” Why then, would a show about violence, hate, evil, destruction, and disturbance not have the opposite potential – to make you feel bad and think about opportunities and ways to think and act destructively?

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