[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preschool-aged children (M = 42.44 months-old, SD = 8.02) participated in a short-term longitudinal study investigating the effect of educational media exposure on social development (i.e., aggression and prosocial behavior) using multiple informants and methods. As predicted, educational media exposure significantly predicted increases in both observed and teacher reported relational aggression across time. Follow-up anal-yses showed that educational media exposure also significantly predicted increases in parent reported rela-tional aggression across more than a two year period. Results replicate and extend prior research that has demonstrated links between educational media exposure and relational aggression, but not physical aggres-sion, during early childhood. Over the past fifty years, hundreds of empirical studies have demon-strated that exposure to media influences children's beliefs, attitudes, and behavior (see Gentile, 2003; Roberts & Foehr, 2004). Exposure to vi-olent media during early childhood is considered especially harmful, with results from a meta-analysis (Paik & Comstock, 1994) indicating that individuals of all ages can be influenced by media exposure, though preschoolers showed the largest effect size. There are several possible explanations for this developmental difference (see Gentile & Sesma, 2003). First, learning during this developmental period is especially critical, as younger children are not likely to have incorporated social norms against aggressive behavior (e.g., Huesmann, 1998). Second, younger children have problems differentiating reality from fantasy be-tween two-to five-years of age (e.g., Richert & Smith, 2011). As a result, they are increasingly likely to imitate even the most unrealistic behav-ior patterns. Third, media exposure during early childhood may be an especially salient influence on social relationships because social de-velopment is likely more malleable than in later childhood or adoles-cence and younger children have less control over the activities they engage in compared to older children (Huston, Wright, Marquis, & Green, 1999). Taken together, various cognitive and social factors at this developmental period may make young children more susceptible to effects of media.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A preventive intervention for reducing physical and relational aggression, peer victimization, and increasing prosocial behavior was developed for use in early childhood classrooms. Nine classrooms were randomly assigned to be intervention rooms (N = 202 children) and nine classrooms were control rooms (N = 201 children). Classroom was the unit of analysis and both observations and teacher-reports were obtained at pre and post-test. Focus groups were used to develop the initial program. The 6-week program consisted of developmentally appropriate puppet shows, active participatory sessions, passive concept activities and in vivo reinforcement periods. Preliminary findings suggest that the “Early Childhood Friendship Project” tended to reduce physical and relational aggression, as well as physical and relational victimization and tended to increase prosocial behavior more for intervention than control classrooms. Teachers and interventionists provided positive evaluations of the program and there is evidence for appropriate program implementation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A short-term longitudinal study examined relational and physical aggression and deceptive behavior among 120 preschool-aged children (M = 44.36 months old, SD = 11.07). Multiple informants and methods (i.e., observational, teacher reports) were used. Evidence for discriminant validity of the observations of aggression subtypes was found. For example, observations of relational aggression were more highly associated with teacher reports of relational aggression than teacher reports of physical aggression. Observed relational aggression was significantly associated with concurrent and prospective increases in deceptive behavior, even after controlling for gender and observed physical aggression. In addition, observed relational aggression was a unique significant predictor of concurrent deception, above and beyond teacher reports of aggression subtypes, which provides important support for the utility of the observational methods.