Watching lots of violence on television and playing violentvideo games makes kids mean and physically aggressive. A newstudy shows that the longer a kid is exposed to high levelsof TV and video game violence, the more the child is likelyto threaten and bully other kids. “Long before kids throw apunch or pick up a weapon, they’re probably treating [other]kids in a relationally aggressive way,” says David Walsh, ofthe National Institute on Media and the Family. “This is thekind of thing that becomes the breeding ground for moreovertly violent behavior as these kids get older.”
The six-month-long study looked at 219 Minnesota children inthe third, fourth and fifth grades, from both public andprivate schools in urban, suburban and rural areas. The kidsfilled out questionnaires about their TV viewing andvideo-game habits, and were evaluated by their own teachersand peers in terms of how well they got along with others.They also took a standardized test used to rate their levelof trust and suspicion of others.
The most badly-behaved children had the greatest exposure tomedia violence and also a greater preference for violent TVshows and video games. These kids were also the mostparanoid and suspicious of others. This increased as theygot older, producing mean teens who not only felt violent,but acted out their aggression. “They become desensitizedand watch more,” says Walsh. “Concerns about a growingculture of ‘incivility’ in society may be starting with ourchildren.”
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