Previous studies have revealed that preschool children imitate behaviors they see on screen—both aggressive and positive behaviors. However, there have been few controlled studies designed to see if parents can reduce aggression in preschool-age children by modifying what they watch.
Scientists supported by the Child Development and Behavior Branch tested a media program in which parents of preschoolers substituted high-quality positive and educational programming for programming that featured aggressive behavior, but without trying to reduce the total amount of screen time. A separate group of preschool children received a different program designed to help promote a healthy diet.
After 6 months, the children that participated in the media program scored better on a behavior checklist compared with the children in the diet group. Boys from low-income homes seemed to benefit the most from the media program (PMID: 23420911).