Does Television Viewing Encourage Aggression in Children?


Research conducted by:
Mariana Fernandez, University of Houston-Downtown undergraduate

Case study prepared by: Nichole Rivera

Overview
How much television is too much for children? Television advocates espouse the educational benefits that children may reap from instructive programming. However, many researchers say that excess television watching may contribute to aggressive behavior in children. Young boys, in particular may be susceptible to this effect. What are the effects, if any, on children’s behavior when television is used as a babysitter?

In a survey of University of Houston-Downtown students, parents reported their children's age, characteristic behavior, and television viewing habits. Convenience sampling was used to gather 30 subjects (N=30).



Questions to Answer
Is there a relationship between hours of television watched and child's obedience? Will a child be more or less aggressive if he/she watches a lot of television?

Design Issues
This survey offered a very limited sample (N=30), which was further hindered by reporting participants’ filling out an individual survey for each individual child. This contributes to some lack of true variability in responses because participants tended to report similar behavior for each child. This may magnify errors associated with self-reported data. The sample would provide greater reliability if each participant reported on only one child’s behavior.

The survey has broad questions which do not provide much context for reported behaviors. In some instances aggression may be positively rated, but this survey treats all aggression as a negative characteristic. In addition, the instrument itself measures largely nominal data, making in depth analyses difficult.


Descriptions of Variables
Variable Description
TV hours Total number of TV hours watched per day
Obedience How obedient the child is
1 = very obedient, 5 = not obedient
Attitude Attitude while playing with other children
1 = non-aggressive, 5 = very aggressive


References

Boyatzis, Chris J. and Matillo Gina M. (1995). Effects of "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" on Children's Aggression with Peers. Child Study Journal, 25 (1), 45-57.

Charlton, Davie. (2001). Monitoring Children's Behavior in Remote Community Before and Six Years After the Availability of Broadcast TV. North America Journal of Psychology, 3, 429-441.

Huesmann, Rowell L., Moise-Titus, Jessica, Podolski, Cheryl-Lynn, Eron, Leonard D. (2003). Longitudinal Relations Between Children's Exposure to TV Violence and their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977-1992. Developmental Psychology 39(2), 201-221.

Troseth, Georgene L. (2003). TV Guide: Two-Year-Old Children Learn to Use Video as a Source of Information. Developmental Psychology 39 (1), 140-150.


Links
Exercises
  1. How many hours a day on average that each child watches television? What is the range of television hours watched?
  2. In computing the mean hours watched, were there any apparent outliers? What effect might this have on the mean hours watched?
  3. Recompute the mean without the outlier(s).
  4. What is the overall correlation between the numbers of hours of TVhours watched and the obedience? What is the correlation between TV hours watched and attitude?
  5. Describe the relationships indicated in question 4. Are either of these correlations statistically significant?
  6. Do a simple frequency count on attitude. What fundamental problem does this data present for the hypothesis? What sampling changes could be made to better test the hypothesis that “children who watch more TV are more aggressive?”