Violence on TV: the effects can stretch from age 3 into the teens

Watching violent TV during the preschool years can lead to later risks of psychological and academic impairment, the summer before middle school starts, according to a new study led by Linda Pagani, a professor at Université de Montréal’s School of Psycho-Education.

The study is published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Before now, “it was unclear to what extent exposure to typical violent screen content in early childhood — a particularly critical time in brain development — can predict later psychological distress and academic risks,” said Pagani.

“The detection of early modifiable factors that influence a child’s later well-being is an important target for individual and community health initiatives, and psychological adjustment and academic motivation are essential elements in the successful transition to adolescence,” she added.

“So, we wanted to see the long-term effect of typical violent screen exposure in preschoolers on normal development, based on several key indicators of youth adjustment at age 12.”

To do this, Pagani and her team examined the violent screen content that parents reported their children viewing between ages three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half, and then conducted a follow-up when the children reached 12.

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