- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

Study: Limit viewing to cut risk


CHICAGO — The more television 4-year-old children watch, the more likely they are to become bullies later on in school, according to a study released yesterday.

At the same time, children whose parents read to them, take them on outings and generally just pay attention to them are less likely to become bullies, according to the report from the University of Washington.

Bullying can be added “to the list of potential negative consequences of excessive television viewing along with obesity, inattention and other types of aggression,” said Frederick Zimmerman, who led the research.

“Our findings suggest some steps that can be taken with children to potentially help prevent bullying. Maximizing cognitive stimulation and limiting television watching in the early years of development might reduce children’s subsequent risk of becoming bullies,” he added.

Previous research had indicated that emotional support from parents helps young children develop empathy, self-regulation and social skills, making them less likely to be bullies, according to the report published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers also have found that early gaps in learning and understanding may make children less competent in dealing with their peers and that violence on television leads to aggressive behavior, it added.

The UW researchers reached their conclusions by looking at data from a study of 1,266 four-year-olds whose bullying — based on assessments from their mothers — was tracked at ages 6 through 11. Overall, about 13 percent of the children turned out to be bullies.

The study also took into account the stimulation the children received as measured by outings, reading, playing and what role the parents played in teaching the children.

Whether the children ate meals with both parents and whether parents talked to the children while working also were measured, along with the average number of hours of television viewed per day.

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