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Social Bullying Common in TV Shows Kids Watch

Mean Behavior Depicted as Cool continued...

Some of the shows, like Rugrats, were made for kids. Other shows, like American Idol, Family Guy, and Fear Factor, were not.

“Younger children often watch the programs their parents watch,” Martins says.

A total of 92% of the viewed episodes included incidents of social aggression, with verbal aggression accounting for about four out of five of these incidents.

Martins says parents need to be aware that the shows their children watch may be promoting the message that social aggression is OK or even cool.

The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Communication.

“I’m not saying that these shows shouldn’t exist, or even that children shouldn’t watch them,” she says. Martins says parents can use these TV moments of social aggression to talk about behaviors that can hurt people’s feelings.

Amy Jordan, PhD, who oversees research on the impact of media on children, agrees that social aggression on television can serve as teachable moment, especially for young children.

Jordan is with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and she chairs the Children, Adolescents and the Media division of the International Communication Association.

She says a single episode of a show like iCarly may promote positive messages to older children and negative ones to younger kids.

“Younger children are not likely to get subtle plot lines where inferences have to be made about how someone feels or what someone thinks,” she says.

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