(CNN) — Changing children’s behavior may start with changing what they watch on TV.
According to a study by Pediatrics, researchers found that preschoolers who watched shows stressing compassion and cooperation acted more that way themselves. When they saw movies or television shows containing violent scenes, they became more aggressive.
The scientists assigned about 600 families to one of two groups. Parents in the first group were encouraged to replace the violent shows their children watched with educational programing. Adults were also encouraged to watch TV with their children. The second group did not change their viewing habits.
After a year, researchers found that the preschoolers who watched less violent and more child appropriate programing scored better on tests that measured cooperation and willingness to share. They had fewer incidents of aggressive behavior.
Preschool children in America watch an average of 4.5 hours of programming a day. Experts hope this study will encourage parents to be selective when they turn the TV on for their preschoolers. Or change the channel when necessary to offer their children programming that fosters cooperation instead of aggression.