Watching violent television programs from a young age has been scientifically linked to poor high school performance.
Researchers from the University of Montreal analyzed the content shown to nearly 2,000 children ages 3.5 to 4.5.
When the children turned 12, the team asked them and their teachers to evaluate how well they thought they were doing in school.
It found that boys and girls exposed to violent content in early childhood were more likely to have “increases in emotional stress” later on.
“They also experienced a decline in classroom engagement, academic performance and academic motivation towards the end of sixth grade,” explains lead author Dr Linda Pagani.
‘For young people, the transition to secondary school is already a crucial stage in their adolescent development.
“Feeling sadness and fear and taking academic risk tends to complicate their situation.”
The study found that watching violent TV during the preschool years is associated with psychosocial risks and academic impairment in early adolescence (stock image)
Violent video games DO NOT make players more aggressive in real life
Shooter video games like Call of Duty are often cited as the motivation for real gun crimes.
But according to a recent study, there is no evidence that these games cause violence in the real world.
The researchers looked at how the violent behavior of adolescent boys is affected by the release of new violent video games in the US.
They concluded that policies designed to restrict the sale of video games to minors — as attempted by several US states — are unlikely to reduce violence.
Until now, it was unclear what effect violent screen content in early life has on children, both academically and psychologically.
Dr Pagani said: ‘The detection of early modifiable factors that affect a child’s later well-being is an important target for individual and community health initiatives.
‘Psychological adjustment and academic motivation are essential elements in the successful transition to adolescence.’
For their study, published this week in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatricsthe team set out to explore the long-term effects of exposure to violent content at preschool age on normal development.
The parents of the boys and girls who took part in the study reported what kind of TV shows their children watched.
When they turned 12, the children and their teachers rated their psychological and academic performance, as well as their motivation and participation in classroom activities.
The researchers analyzed the data to identify a significant association between problems in those areas and violent content they were exposed to in kindergarten.
They also sought to eliminate the pre-existing influences and prejudices that may have influenced these aspects of the children’s lives as well.
Watching violent TV during the preschool years was found to be associated with psychosocial risks and academic impairment in early adolescence.
For girls, associations were found with increases in emotional stress and decreases in classroom engagement and academic motivation at age 12.
For boys, violent screen content was associated with increases in emotionally disturbed, inattentive, unruly and socially withdrawn behavior.
The researchers also saw a decrease in classroom engagement, academic performance and academic motivation for boys at age 12.
Dr Pagani said: ‘Preschoolers tend to identify with characters on TV and see everything they see as real.
The researchers saw a decrease in classroom engagement, academic performance and academic motivation in 12-year-old boys who viewed violent screen content in early childhood (stock image)
They are especially vulnerable to humorous depictions of glorified heroes and villains using violence as a legitimate means of solving problems.
‘Repeated exposure to fast-paced, adrenaline-inducing action sequences and compelling special effects can reinforce beliefs, attitudes and impressions that ordinary violence in social interactions is ‘normal’.
“Incorrectly teaching essential social skills can make it difficult to fit in at school.”
Co-author Jessica Bernard said: “Just like witnessing violence in real life, being repeatedly exposed to a hostile and violent world populated by sometimes grotesque-looking creatures can cause fear and stress and lead these children to see society as dangerous and to be considered frightening.
“And this can lead to overreacting in ambiguous social situations.”
“In the preschool years, the number of hours per day is limited, and the more children are exposed to aggressive interactions on screens, the more they consider it normal to behave in this way.”
Pagani added: “However, exposure to more appropriate social situations can help them develop essential social skills that will be useful later on and ultimately play a key role in their personal and economic success.”
The researchers hope that pediatric professionals, parents and communities can take this information into account.
Children who tell blunt truths are judged more harshly by adults than those who tell lies for their own sake
Children who would tell someone they have spinach in their teeth are judged more harshly than those who remain silent, a new study finds.
Texas State University researchers showed 267 adult videos of children ages 6 to 15 telling the truth or lying in various social situations.
They were then asked to give their opinion about the children, and those who told blunt truths made a worse impression than those who were willing to tell a white lie.
However, adults reported that they were most likely to reward those who told “subtle truths” who remained polite.
The results suggest that young children are exposed to conflicting messages about being honest or lying in order to be polite or to protect others.
Read more here