Would you believe that simply watching TV could turn kids into bullies?
A new study found that almost all of the most popular kids’ TV shows feature shockingly high levels of “social aggression,” or social bullying. Characters are gossiping, or shooting each other dirty looks and insults. And experts warn that these fictional TV shows can motivate kids to become real life bullies.
Indiana University researchers watched 150 episodes of the most popular kids’ shows like “American Idol,” and “Family Guy.” Then, they recorded each socially aggressive moment. The result? 92% of the shows contained verbal and non-verbal social aggression, ranging from insults to eye rolling.
In fact, a social aggression incident happened an average of once every four minutes. Researchers also found that social bullies were often played by attractive actors and presented in a funny context. Like the “Rugrats” cartoon character Angelica sarcastically insulting and bullying other characters to obey her commands.
Lead researcher Dr. Nicole Martins says that when social aggression is shown in a humorous situation, kids are much less likely to recognize that it’s hurtful behavior. And so they usually think it’s OK to copy what the cool kids on TV are doing – bullying included!
So, parents, experts suggest watching TV with your kids – and be on the lookout for social bullying. Like dirty looks, snide remarks, and gossiping. Then, explain how a dirty look can be just as destructive as a punch or kick, since it crushes self-esteem.