Researchers from Oregon State University suggest a classroom-based intervention program that has been found to significantly reduce the amount of violent TV that children watch.
The study showed that special classroom curriculum could reduce violent TV viewing among first- through fourth-grade children by nearly 18 per cent.
It could also reduce students' identification with superheroes compared to children in a control group.
"We have a significant body of research now that shows that children who watch violent TV tend to be more violent, to overestimate the threat of crime, and to think that the world is a more dangerous place than it is," said Sharon Rosenkoetter, faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at OSU.
“So if there is a connection between violent TV and violent behaviour – and research shows that there is – then it is in society''s interest to reduce the viewing of violence,” she added.
The curriculum used in the intervention is called The REViEW Project Curriculum (Reducing Early Violence: Education Works).
The intervention focuses on supporting children to make better viewing choices, rather than telling them to turn off the TV entirely.
It includes 28 lessons of 20-30 minutes each and is administered over a period of seven months. During the intervention, the project''s teachers led highly interactive lessons that included clips from TV shows.
They also brought in guest speakers to talk with the children.
"We did a follow-up eight months after the intervention, and our results held," said Lawrence Rosenkoetter, lead author of the study.
"These findings mean that we have been able to show that it is possible to guide kids to choose to watch less TV violence. That had not been demonstrated before," he added.
The study appears in Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.