A new study has found teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers' behavior, even without getting them to watch less.
The results were modest and faded over time, but the study authors and other doctors say they may hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior.
The research involving 565 parents was published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.
They periodically filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child's behavior.
Half were coached for six months on getting their 3-to-5-year-old kids to watch shows like "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer" rather than more violent programs like "Power Rangers."
Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit.
That study was published in the journal "Pediatrics" along with another which also found a correlation between early television viewing and behavior. That study followed followed 1000 children born in the New Zealand city of Dunedin in 1972-73. It found that the children who watched more television were more likely to exhibit anti-social, aggressive and even criminal behavior.
At the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse Monday, Betty Jones put on a demonstration of bubble making for young children. Jones has 35 years of experience as a pre-school teacher. She says she could always pick out the children who watched too much television. "When they're engaged in television viewing, they;'re not learning the tasks they should be learning and part of that is how to interact with other people... instead what they have is the image that the best way to solve your problems is by striking out or hitting."
David and Priscilla Arthur who live at Fort Drum brought their 3 children to the MOST. They told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, they recently decided to remove cable television from their home. "Overstimulation, there's too many commercials and overstimulation for the child. We'd rather they play games. We have family game night...read books." Priscilla said. David Arthur added, "We want to make sure our children are challenged up here (pointing to his head) to think critically and not be influenced too much."
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)