Study: Kids’ TV shows full of bullying

A new study has found that many of the 50 most popular shows for kids 2 to 11 in 2005 (many of which still air today) featured regular acts of social and verbal aggression.

The list included a variety of children’s shows such as “Hannah Montana,” “Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and a few adult shows (“American Idol,” “Survivor,” “The Simple Life 3”).

About 92 percent of 150 episodes reviewed featured some form of “social aggression” —averaging about 14 incidents per hour.

About 80 percent of the shows featured physical bullying.

From HealthDay via the Poughkeepsie Journal:

“Lots of attention has been paid to exposure to nudity and violence in the media, and rightfully so,” said study lead author Nicole Martins, an assistant professor in the department of telecommunications at Indiana University. “But parents are largely unaware that programs could be teaching children to be cruel and mean to each other as well. Just because a show is low on physical violence doesn’t mean it’s harmless.”…

“Social aggression is pretty prevalent,” Martins said. Females tend to perpetrate it, she noted, and they are often attractive…

“Martins acknowledged that TV shows wouldn’t be very interesting to watch if everybody behaved properly and treated each other with respect…”

“I’m not saying get rid of the conflict. No one wants to watch that,” she said. “I’d challenge people in the industry to think about how they portray these aggressive behaviors and at least show that the victim is hurt by the comments.”

I do notice that often when I am watching TV with the kids I’ll say you know we don’t do this or say that. They usually nod at me and say we know. (Because I do say it a lot.)

Do you notice physical and verbal bullying on TV shows? Do you ever comment to your kids, “Hey we know what you’re seeing is not OK, right?” Do you think what they are watching influences your kids’ treatment of others?

68 comments Add your comment

Denise

October 5th, 2012
5:01 pm

I’ll never get an upgrade if it’s based on my attire. I’m going to be as comfortable as possible, which most certainly will involve a long sundress or jeans. (Winter is going to SUCK! I hate traveling with COATS!)

I agree the we as a society have gotten too casual. My general rule is not to wear anything I wouldn’t want our company president to see me in. I break it on occasion but i try not to even walk down the hall when I don’t look as nice as I think I should. It does not make me feel like I’m at WORK, you know? A pair of slacks and a blouse doesn’t take more effort than a pair of jeans. When I do dress down it’s because something needs ironing and I don’t have the time. (Procrastination is my middle name.)

HB

October 5th, 2012
5:11 pm

You’re too funny! No, first-class customers paying more for individual seats do not keep airlines in business. The fact is, no where near enough people can pay that much, so airlines do depend on sales of more affordable tickets. First class sections also rarely sell out — upgrading loyal customers actually helps to sell more coach tickets. And then you have Southwest, currently one of the most financially stable airlines, which does not even offer first or business class seats. Airlines should give first-class passengers special treatment because that’s what they pay for, but the idea that “lesser” passengers should show them greater respect because they keep airlines afloat and make it possible for the rest of us to fly cheap is really silly.

As for committed folks, twenty of my hardworking, dedicated colleagues and I will be flying to our annual conference later this month to help others become better educators and get a little professional development for ourselves. We will all fly in jeans so when we land we can immediately begin prep work, which involves a lot of box lugging and unpacking. Over 1,500 people from our field will gather to share ideas and learn innovative things, and I bet I will see no more than 15 people dressed in suits. Of course, few, if any of us will fly first-class since our field is mostly nonprofit and small business, but I think the airlines probably appreciate the nearly 1,000 $200-500 domestic tickets plus a few hundred international tickets that we have purchased. You may not be impressed by us, but no worries — that’s not really our goal. ;)

motherjanegoose

October 5th, 2012
6:18 pm

@ HB…see that is the beauty of our world. My chiropractor tells me that she cannot wait to see me as I am one of the few people who make her laugh. Many hire me for my expertise. Some here think I am nuts. I am not impressed by some folks while others do impress me a great deal. Personal grooming is a big deal, to me. Others may think it is overrated. To each his own.

I had this ( casual dress) conversation with my daughter, as it irks me when I see HS and College aged kids who attend church in slouchy outfits. She reminded me that God does not care what we wear. A fair point. I then mentioned this to a Lutheran Pastor. I loved his response…”If you were going to stand before a judge in court, would you roll in wearing your pajamas with messy hair and a slouch? No, you say? Perhaps God does deserve that respect too, after what he has done for you.”

I am not an expert on airlines but I do know that many cities have been knocked off the flight list as they are not profitable. The cities that have a large portion of business travelers seem safe. Many frequent business travelers do not like Southwest. Of course, I do not know everyone.

mother jane blah

October 5th, 2012
9:59 pm

Blow me Mother Jane Goose

M.E.

October 5th, 2012
10:42 pm

So, wasn’t this conversation supposed to be about bullying in kids’ shows?

motherjanegoose

October 6th, 2012
8:48 am

@ M.E. we did not have a new topic on Friday and things were kind of slow for the week, so FCM asked a question. We can do that here. The answer to your question is…YES…on Thursday and sometimes we ask new questions if anyone has something they want to toss in to the ring. Especially, if the topic at hand was kind of slow and has been there for a while. Does that help? Enjoy your weekend.

Atlanta Mom

October 6th, 2012
10:23 am

Here’s an idea. Instead of watching TV with the kids, just turn it off.

irisheyes

October 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

CM, you are very rarely going to see me in a skirt. I’m with seven year olds all day, and I may be sitting with them on the floor while they read to me, or helping a child up off of the ground at recess, or opening ketchup packets (or syrup, or BBQ sauce, or those god-awful Gogurts) that can and do squirt on me, or using dry erase markers to write on the classroom whiteboards or individual whiteboards as I help a child with a math problem. Yes, I am a professional, but I believe in dressing for my environment. We don’t knock nurses for wearing scrubs, do we?

irisheyes

October 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

Sorry, that was for FCM (not sure why the first letter vanished!).

motherjanegoose

October 6th, 2012
1:32 pm

@ irisheyes…I am with 2-7 year olds most days of my life and wear skirts at least 50 % of the time. I also wear clothes that can easily be washed. Now if you are talking about a pencil slim mini skirt, that could well be a problem. At 53, those are not on my radar.

When it is cooler, I love to wear black tights and get the L’eggs kind at Walgreens when they are BOGO. Great with a black knit dress/jumper ( I have several) and some fun jewelry ( which kids love…I have a pumpkin scarf now).

I once met a teacher from New Jersey. We talked about dress code. She asked me if we had to wear NYLONS to school. This was about 6 years ago. She was in her early 40s. I told her that I NEVER wear nylons…haha and rarely pantyhose. I try to get a tan on my legs and love to wear sandals. She told me that, in their inner city school, they were not allowed to go bare legged. THEY ALSO HAD NO AIR CONDITIONING. YIKES! I learn all sorts of things about the differences across the country. If that were the case here… I would wear pants but you would still need socks. Yuck.

**rolls eyes**

October 7th, 2012
4:24 pm

no bullying but let your girls dress like hookers but then get mad when snide comments are made

**rolls eyes**

October 7th, 2012
4:25 pm

HB is a bully her self.. and a freaking know it all

djs_NC

October 7th, 2012
4:55 pm

these kinds of shows have been around for years-just like ones showing kids being disresprectul of adults and everyone thinking its funny. whats new?

Ghoti

October 7th, 2012
10:15 pm

Public school teachers don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive clothing. If I was a teacher, I would dress according to the conventions of the job, which includes getting dirty in many cases. Waste money on uncomfortable clothing that has to be dry-cleaned?

If skirts and nylons were so great, men would wear them. Ugh. Give me jeans or pants every time, with a comfortable, washable top. I don’t dress up unless I have to. I dress for myself, not for others, especially on airplanes. Why would you dress up to be stuck in an airplane seat?

Ghoti

October 7th, 2012
10:23 pm

And, just because someone paid more for their airline ticket than I did, I’m supposed to somehow think they’re better than I am? That would be NO.

Mike

October 7th, 2012
11:59 pm

Ghoti, neither are you better than them.

The way you dress shows how much you respect yourself and the people you’ll be interacting with.

This would be an interesting topic that’s actually related to kids – does a disdain for dressing up come from parents?

If your parents don’t value dressing up, then you’re going to grow up getting nice clothes only when you have to go to a big event like a relative’s wedding or graduation, and you’ll have that for any “nice” events until you’re busting out of it and they have to break down and buy you something new. So dressed-up clothes are associated with boring events and being too tight.

A friend was stunned when I told him that dress shirts come in different collar sizes. Buy clothes that fit and they’re not uncomfortable.

motherjanegoose

October 8th, 2012
10:02 am

@ Ghoti…there was a time when everyone dressed up to ride on an airplane…perhaps that was before you were born? I remember it well.

There was also a time when folks at restaurants dressed up and had conversations instead of playing with their phones and texting the entire meal…sigh…that is sad sight to me.

@ Mike…thanks: The way you dress shows how much you respect yourself and the people you’ll be interacting with. I find this to be very true.

Mayhem

October 8th, 2012
2:40 pm

I must not have much respect for myself, as I am 95% of the time in jeans and tee shirts. Flip flops are my shoes, I don’t even own a pair of heels…….Oh dear, I hope I never run into MJG…I’m sure she will look down her nose at me. Especially if I’m in first class and she’s in coach…won’t be getting must respect from her on that plane.