Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Relational Aggression

I was reading an excerpt from a book called NurtureShock (by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman).  It has a great description of something about kids entertainment that I've been trying to put my finger on for 6 years.  

Relational Aggression! 

Fine, so Nemo isn't inherently a violent movie, there's no Batman fights. However, it has constant flow of examples of relational aggression, that is, social exclusiveness, and subtle meanness (or snarky) in character interaction, behavior that treats another character as unworthy, or incapable, for example.  And while Disney movies, Clifford, Sponge Bob and many other popular kid shows may (infrequently) have a redeeming lesson to the relational example, young kids often miss it.  

This book also cites a study that finds kids are 2.5 times more likely to behave relationally aggressive than they are physically or verbally aggressive who watch shows (they pick up these other aggressive behaviors from shows too, just less).  96% of all children's programming includes this behavior, including educational shows.  I wonder how much of adult programming has it, and how often we mimic the behavior as adults?

So there's a name for this underlying disdain I have for child entertainment. Wohoo!  ...Not that I think it's the cause of poor behavior on its own, it's just not contributing to desirable behavior.

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