Children are being exposed to increasing amounts of social bullying and aggression at impressionable ages, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of Communication.
Researchers examined 150 television episodes of the 50 most popular television shows for children, ages 2 to 11, as ranked by Nielsen Media Research. They noted socially aggressive incidents that targeted self-esteem or social status through gossip, mean facial expressions and/or friendship manipulation. Such incidents, they found, occured once every four minutes, or fourteen times per hour.
"Parents need to be more aware that just because shows do not contain physical aggression, it doesn't mean that there is not anti-social behavior present," Nicole Martins, assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University and lead author of the study, told ABC News. She found this research to be a "teaching opportunity to emphasize that some of those mean remarks may cause lasting emotional scars."
The study found that 92 percent of the most popular television programs for children contained verbal and non-verbal social aggression.
October marks Bullying Prevention Month, prompting nationwide attention to a growing problem that persists across the nation.
With several high-profile cases, bullying has become a hot national topic, the Inquisitr noted. A group of middle school students taunting bus monitor Karen Klein was filmed and went viral online in June. Before that, 14-year-old New York student Jamey Rodemeyer commited suicide after relentless bullying.
Schools are taking advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness of ways to combat bullying and to sharpen their policies on the issue, the Inquisitr reported.
Scientists contend that socially aggressive behavior can have long term detriental effects on children that are as dangerous as portrayals of physical violence, Examiner noted.
"The general consensus of opinion the research portrays is that social bullying and aggression that is portrayed as being rewarded is most likely to be emulated and may be one cause of higher levels of aggressive behavior in preadolescent children and in teenagers," Examiner reported.
Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at email@example.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.