Young children who are encouraged to watch TV programs that depict kindness, respect, and cooperation are more likely to express those traits than kids who watch everyday TV fare that includes fictional violence.
Setting the media violence debate upside down, researchers have found that low-income boys, who tend to watch the most television, benefited the most in displaying empathy after watching nonviolent shows, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
“And many of the parents who were guided on what kind of pro-social content to watch and how to avoid violent shows asked that such advice continue even after the study. Since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, President Obama has sought to boost research on possible links between gun violence and media such as video game. Dozens of violent video games were found in the home of Adam Lanza, who killed 26 people in the Newtown, Conn. mass shooting. And the National Rifle Association, perhaps to deflect attention away from concern over gun regulations, placed part of the blame for gun violence on video game companies.
“Yet restricting such video games was always going to be difficult. In 2011, the Supreme Courtoverturned a California law that aimed to do just that. The justices, citing a lack of evidence that playing video games leads to violent behavior, were reluctant to curb a First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
What’s more, media researchers differ over how to define aggression or fictional violence. Even if a standard can be found, a 2007 study by the Federal Communications Commission found more depiction of violence in the Disney animated cartoon “The Little Mermaid” than in a documentary about the Civil War.
The best way to curb violent media is to overwhelm it with shows and games that are equally entertaining and help children imitate healthy social behaviors. Parents need more encouragement to find such media and to guide their children in using them.”