The study is published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
According to a recent study done by Linda Pagani, a professor at the School of Psycho-Education at the Université de Montréal, watching violent TV during the preschool years can increase the risk of psychological and academic damage later on, the summer before middle school begins. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics published the findings.
According to Pagani, it has previously been unclear how much exposure to typical violent screen content throughout early childhood, a period of crucial brain development, can predict future psychological distress and scholastic problems.
Psychological adjustment and academic motivation are crucial components in the healthy transition to adolescent, she added, and the identification of early modifiable factors that influence a child’s subsequent well-being is an important goal for individual and community health programmes. In order to determine the long-term effects of typical violent screen exposure on normal development in preschoolers, we used a number of crucial measures of adolescent adjustment at age 12.
For this, Pagani and her team looked at the violent screen content that parents reported their kids watching between the ages of three and a half and four and a half, and they followed up with the kids when they were 12 to get more information.
Two reports were collected during the follow-up: one on what teachers claimed to have seen, and the other on what the students themselves, now in the sixth grade, had to say about their academic and psychological development.
A critical stage in a child’s growth as an adolescent is represented by the transfer to middle school.
Being at risk academically, feeling depressed and anxious, and complicating their condition. After analysing data from a cohort of kids born in 1997 or 1998 who are a part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, run by the Institut de la Statistique du Québec, Pagani and co-authors Caroline Fitzpatrick and Jessica Bernard reached their conclusions.
Almost 2,000 kids were studied. In total, 978 girls and 998 boys’ parents took part in the study on preschoolers’ exposure to violent TV. At the age of twelve, the kids’ academic and psychological development, motivation, and engagement in class activities were evaluated by the kids and their teachers. The data were then examined by Pagani’s team to look for any conclusive evidence of a connection between issues with those characteristics and the violent material they had been exposed to as young children. This analysis attempted to control for as many potential biases and confounding factors as possible.
The intention was to rule out any pre-existing illnesses of the kids or families that would have offered a different explanation or shed a different light on the findings, according to Pagani.
Early childhood entertainment often involves watching television, and some of the study’s participants were exposed to violent content while others were not. Education and public health professionals are becoming increasingly concerned about the psychological and academic impairment of youngsters.
“Compared to their same-sex peers who were not exposed to violent screen content, boys and girls who were exposed to typical violent content on television were more likely to experience subsequent increases in emotional distress,” said Pagani. “They also experienced decreases in classroom engagement, academic achievement, and academic motivation by the end of the sixth grade,” she added.
Pagani contends that issues with entering middle school have roots in early life. According to her, preschoolers frequently empathise with TV characters and treat everything they see as real. They are particularly susceptible to comedic portrayals of exaggerated heroes and villains who resort to violence as a legitimate technique of problem-solving.
Added Bernard: “Just like witnessing violence in real life, being repeatedly exposed to a hostile and violent world populated by sometimes grotesque-looking creatures could trigger fear and stress and lead these children to perceive society as dangerous and frightening. And this can lead to habitually overreacting in ambiguous social situations. In the preschool years, the number of hours in a day is limited, and the more children get exposed to aggressive interactions (on screens) the more they might think it normal to behave that way.”
Rapidly moving, adrenaline-pumping action scenes and appealing special effects may be repeatedly exposed to, which may reinforce attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions that habitual violence in social interactions is “normal.”
Pagani added: “Being exposed to more appropriate social situations, however, can help them develop essential social skills that will later be useful and ultimately play a key role in their personal and economic success.”