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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Parents are always grappling over how much television their children should watch. A new study says it’s not how long they watch, but what they watch that actually matters.

A new study published in the journal “Pediatrics” says a pre-schooler’s behavior can be helped by monitoring what they’re watching.

“The biggest thing we know that contributes to violent behavior is parental upbringing. So how did your parents react to violence when they saw it? What lessons did they give you about violence? What kind of values did they instill in you?,” says Dr. Kevin Williams of MSU’s Communications Department.

Dr. Kevin Williams says violent programming is still only a small factor is how a child behaves.

“As a researcher who looks at media violence, I’m not concerned about violent content in itself being a contributor to violent behavior. I’m concerned with it being a small part of a overall problem that someone maybe having. I’m not so much concerned about your normal everyday kid watching a violent program or playing a violent video game,,” says Williams.

The study involved 565 Seattle parents who kept TV-watching diaries and questionnaires. After one year, low-income boys seemed to get the most short-term benefit from monitoring how much television they watched. Dr. Williams says there are a few basic things that parents can do to help their children.

“My suggestion to parents would be just pay attention, just be proactive. Be active in your children’s media consumption. Know what they’re watching on tv, know which video games they’re playing,” says Williams.

The results of the study were modest but researchers believe they could hold the key to reducing aggressive behavior in young children.

Parents weren’t told the purpose of the study but researchers believe some may have figured it out and that may have affected the results.

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