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.
“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?