The study, scheduled to be published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, found the intervention resulted in an 18 percent reduction in violent TV viewing among first- through fourth-grade children.
Lead author Lawrence Rosenkoetter, retired professor at the Oregon State University, Sharon Rosenkoetter and Alan Acock, both at Oregon State University, said the classroom-based intervention included 496 children in 32 elementary classes. The children were interviewed by assistants prior to, immediately after, and eight months after the intervention to assess their specific viewing habits. About 242 additional children were in the control group.
The intervention -- 28 lessons of 20-30 minutes each -- focuses on supporting children to make better viewing choices, rather than telling them to turn off the TV. One aim is to reduce the identification with violent super heroes. The curriculum emphasizes the "pretend" nature of the superheroes actions and touting "real" heroes such as student athletes, police officers, doctors and nurses. Guest speakers included a police officer who told the children he never shot anyone or conducted a car chase but most of his job consists of talking to people and filling out paperwork.
The intervention significantly reduced the students' identification with superheroes compared to children in a control group, the researchers said.