-- Alan Mozes
FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to the belief of
some television producers, spiking cartoons with a dose of violence
doesn't make kids enjoy them more, a new study reveals.
Although an estimated 70 percent of children's TV shows now
contain some degree of violent content, Indiana University
researchers found that young children watching animated shows
identified more with non-violent characters.
"Violence isn't the attractive component in these cartoons, which producers seem to think it is," study co-author Andrew J. Weaver, an assistant professor of telecommunications in Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences, said in a university news release.
"You don't have to cram violence into these cartoons to get kids to like them. They'll like them without the violence, just as much if not more," he added.
Weaver and his team reported their findings in the current issue
For the study, the researchers sought the opinions of 128
youngsters following exposure to a series of animated programs. The
participants were between the ages of 5 and 11 (from kindergarten
through fourth grade), and included as many boys as girls.
The children viewed one of four different edits of short
animated pieces that ran for about five minutes and were designed
specifically for the study. All were slapstick in nature, but the
versions differed in terms of the degree of violence included.
Afterwards, the researchers led the children through questionnaires
about the different episodes.
The investigators found that violent content was actually a turn
off for boys, depending on how they connected with the characters
involved. In fact, the less violent the characters, the more boys
identified with them and enjoyed the program at hand.
"That was a little surprising," said Weaver, who has two young sons. "There is a lot of talk about boys being more violent and more aggressive, for whatever reason, social or biological, and yet we found that they identified with the characters more when they were non-violent," he added. "They liked the characters more and they enjoyed the overall cartoon more."
Girls did not have the same reaction, however, feeling no more
attached to those characters that were less aggressive. The team
suggested that this may be because slapstick content generally
appeals more to boys than girls.
Nevertheless, girls did not actually prefer the more violent
content any more than the boys did, the study found.
"This is good news," said Weaver. "If producers are willing to work on making cartoons that aren't violent so much as action packed, they can still capture their target audience better . . . and without the harmful consequences."
He suggested that alternatives could include "things related to
speed -- characters going fast, moving quickly. It was one way that
we manipulated action in this study. If you can increase action
without increasing violence -- which clearly is possible as we did
it in this study -- then you can increase the enjoyment without the
potential harmful effects that violence can bring," Weaver
To learn more about children and TV violence, visit the
American Academy of Child & Adolescent
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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