New poll finds escalating violence in children's TV now a crisis for parents

Alternative fare sought as they worry about lasting affects on their children

October 6, 2021

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite years of studies linking violence in children with violence on television, a new survey of parents with children aged 1-6 finds that violence in children's programming still remains a primary problem. The poll found an overwhelming 82% majority of respondents stating that such violence is a major concern for them as parents.

The poll, conducted by the American Business Research Corporation, also found that nine in ten believed that violence in children's programming had a serious negative impact on their children and eight in ten felt that such programming created serious behavioral problems for them as parents, now and into the future.

The study was designed to explore the content, educational and social values most sought after by parents of children at or earlier than pre-school ages, with an eye toward helping the industry develop programs more appropriately targeted to accomplish those objectives.

Earlier studies, such as those by George Gerbner, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that children's TV shows can contain as many as 20 violent acts each hour and that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a mean and dangerous place.

Dr. Dale Kunkel, of UC Santa Barbara, found that children's programming could be among the worst in the area of violence. He noted that another factor associated with children's programs is that they often depict violence in a humorous context, which seems to trivialize violence.

Another hot topic revealed by the ABRC poll was the fact that eight in ten parents were also extremely interested in any programming that might help their children make the transition from home life to the pre-school environment.

"Respondents believe there are just too few shows currently airing that meet their demand for non-violent, educational fare. While some cited 'Sesame Street,' 'Blues Clues' and 'Dora the Explorer' as excellent programming, many expressed a strong demand for more variety," said Karen Drew, Senior Research Director.

The message may be slowly sinking in. Both new and old entertainment companies are now working on projects to fit this bill.

Nick Jr., for example, recently announced a new spin-off of its popular "Dora the Explorer" series based on one of that show's characters, Diego, titled "Go, Diego, Go." The show's curriculum goals are based on using observational skills and scientific tools to learn the accurate traits of the animal featured in each day's adventure.

Also ushering in a new trend is hot newcomer Corner Stone Animation, recently announcing their newest series, "Betsy's Kindergarten Adventures." Created by pre-school teacher Betsy Quinn and award-winning animator Fred Crippen, the animated TV show for children aged 1-6, is specifically designed to be a fun, non-violent program  that will ease the transition from home to school while imparting valuable learning and social skills needed in a school environment.