Viewing Preferences, Symptoms of Psychological Trauma, and Violent Behaviors Among Children Who Watch Television

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Abstract

Objective

To examine the extent to which children's television-viewing practices are associated with symptoms of psychological trauma and aggressive behaviors. The following three hypotheses were tested: (1) children who report watching greater amounts of television per day will report higher levels of trauma symptoms than children who report lesser amounts of television viewing; (2) children who report watching greater amounts of television per day will report higher levels of violent behaviors than children who report watching lesser amounts of television per day; and (3) children who report a preference for action and fighting programs will report higher levels of violent behaviors than children who report a preference for other types of television programs.

Method

The study used a survey design in which an anonymous self-report questionnaire was administered to students in grades 3 through 8 in 11 Ohio public schools during the 1995–1996 school year (N = 2,245).

Results

All three hypotheses were supported.

Conclusion

Heavy television viewing by children may indicate the presence of problems such as depression, anxiety, and violent behaviors; such viewing should be screened for by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals working with children. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1998, 37(10):1041–1048.

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