by Sarah Michaelis Friday August 9, 2013

A study in “Pediatrics” shows that changing what a preschooler watches on TV can actually improve his behaviour and decrease aggression.

The study, involving 565 families over one year, shows that how much television a preschooler watches may not be as important as what she is watching, when it comes to mental health.

I spoke to the study's lead researcher, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, about the use of educational toys. Although he strongly cautions parents against exposing children under the age of two to television, he believes educational television is beneficial in the preschool years.

"The best data comes from television and from high quality educational programming," says Christakis. "There are many many shows that have really proven to improve children’s cognitive and social development if used appropriately."

Christakis and his team found that reducing children's exposure to violent television and increasing their exposure to educational, pro-social programming showed a decrease in aggressive behaviour and an increase in empathy and kindness.

Boys living in low-income families, who tend to watch a lot of television, seemed to benefit the most.

TVOKids offers educational, empathy-building shows for preschoolers, including:

  • Gisèle's Big Backyard: Others and Me
  • Rosie and her friends discover the true meaning of friendship on Everything's Rosie.
  • Mouk travels with his best friend to discover the world on Mouk.
  • Check out the catalogue of preschooler shows airing on TVOKids that teach kids the skills they need to be good friends, good students and good citizens.