We all have heard Srila Prabhupada warn us that television and media strengthen our materialistic mentality and divert us from service to Krishna—our consciousness being formed largely by our association. However, it is often difficult to keep our children away from the influences that are so pervasive in our culture.
Aggression and Television Viewing: The problems associated with children watching TV go beyond moral and spiritual concerns. There is mounting evidence of the many negative psychological and learning effects associated with television viewing. The following research provides another perspective on its adverse effects—specifically on the connection between television viewing and aggression in children.
Results of Long Term Study Recently Reported: A recent research study tracked the viewing habits and later effects on 329 youth over a 15-year period. (This study was published in the March 2007 issue of Developmental Psychology)
Beginning of Study: The study began 15 years ago with 329 children (both boys and girls) identifying the following:
- which violent TV shows they watched most
- whether they identified with the aggressive characters
- whether they thought the violent situations were realistic
15 Years Later: The current study re-surveyed the original boys and girls, now in their early 20’s, and asked about their aggressive behaviors. The participants’ spouses or friends were also interviewed, and data was collected regarding their criminal conviction records.
Results in Men: Results show that men who were high TV-violence-viewers as children were significantly more likely to have:
- pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouses
- responded to an insult by shoving a person
- been convicted of a crime at over three times the rate of other men
Results in Women: Women who were high TV-violence-viewers as children were more likely to have:
- thrown something at their spouses
- to have responded to someone who made them mad by shoving, punching, beating or choking the person
- to have committed some type of criminal act
- These women reported having punched, beaten or choked another adult at over four times the rate of other women
Violent Video Games: This is only one of hundreds of studies that have demonstrated the connection between television watching and violent and aggressive behavior. Newer studies are also showing this connection with children playing violent video games.
We sometimes mistakenly think that these activities will not really hurt children—that they know reality from fantasy, and there is no permanent effect. According to both science and Srila Prabhupada the reality is quite different than we think.