Superhero culture can lead to aggressive behaviour in Children
A new study from Brigham Young University in the US revealed that kids, who frequently engage with superhero culture, are more likely to be physically and relationally aggressive in the following year.
“So many pre-schoolers are into superheroes and so many parents think that the superhero culture will help their kids defend others and be nicer to their peers,” said Sarah M. Coyne, Professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, US.
“But, our study shows the exact opposite. Kids pick up on the aggressive themes and not the defending ones,” Coyne said.
The participants in the study consisted of 240 children, whose parents responded about the level of engagement their kids had with the superhero culture. The children were individually interviewed and asked to identify their 10 popular superheroes.
The findings showed that 20% of these children associated their favourite superhero with some type of violent skills. The remaining 70% of skills-related comments by children were benign in nature: “Because he is big and strong” and “Because he is cool and can fly.”
These programs contain complex storylines that interweave violence and prosocial behaviour and preschoolers do not have the cognitive capability to pick out the wider moral message that is often portrayed.
Coyne further stated there is likely some additional desensitization associated with consuming violent media.
They explained that reduction in cognitive and emotional responses has been shown to be associated with exposure to violent media.
However, the superhero culture can become consuming especially if kids are watching the movies, playing with the toys, strongly identifying with the characters, dressing up, they concluded.
The research appears in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.