Does Peppa Pig make your child more badly behaved?
Debate among parents about the influence of cartoon Peppa Pig on their children’s behaviour has hit the headlines this month. Those on the Mumsnet internet forum said they were concerned the programme was responsible for much of their children’s naughty behaviour, which they say has been learned from watching the show.
Answering back, picky food eating and even splashing in muddy puddles were among the examples put forward by frustrated mums, bringing to the fore a debate that continues to polarise opinion.
I’ve heard teachers make broad, sweeping claims about the influence of TV on pupils, both as a mum and grandma. A couple of years ago, a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers showed that school staff thought TV was responsible for bad behaviour.
Inappropriate and adult programmes including Big Brother and Little Britain were the biggest bugbears when it came to secondary school children. For younger kids, aggression was caused by programmes like Ben 10 and Power Rangers.
In a University of Birmingham study, a clear link was found between watching violent programmes and violent behaviour, although this was mainly in the short term, and considered a small but significant effect.
There is obviously plenty of proof of where children mimic the bad behaviour of TV characters. In much the same way as they mimic parents behaviour and their peers.
What I don’t understand is why there is such a focus on the negatives?
Now I see plenty of negatives in the aggression and violence in Ben 10 and Power Rangers. I don’t like either of these shows either, personally, but would be foolish not to acknowledge the positives like cooperation, friendship and – perhaps chief among them – being outspoken when someone isn’t behaving in a nice way.
Peppa Pig is a children’s cartoon I do really like, because of the sheer volume of positive behaviour. If you haven’t noticed already, I’ve done a fair bit of reading about this issue since it kicked off in the new year, but I’ve saved my favourite reference until last.
Glancing over an article in the Liverpool Post, I was pleased to read Liverpool University psychologist Dr Simon Child saying Peppa Pig’s “pro-social” behaviour far outweighed the negative stuff. Another good point he made, which I think applies just as well when your child sees real people behave badly, is that children are less likely to mimic it if their parents explain the consequences.