Conventional wisdom says children like watching violent programming but U.S. researchers say violence doesn't add anything to their enjoyment of the programs.
"That was a little surprising," Andrew J. Weaver of Indiana University College -- a father of two young sons -- says in a statement. "There is a lot of talk about boys being more violent and more aggressive, for whatever reason, social or biological, and yet we found that they identified with the characters more when they were non-violent ... They liked the characters more and they enjoyed the overall cartoon more."
Violent cartoons, long a staple of Saturday morning programming, are readily available on cable television channels. Many classic cartoons, such as "Looney Tunes," featured slapstick violence but recent action programs such as "Pokemon" and "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" are popular but have violent content. Some analyses find as much as 70 percent of children's television shows have violent content, Weaver says.
Weaver and co-authors -- Jakob Jensen of Purdue University, Nicole Martins of Indiana University, Ryan Hurley of North Carolina State University and Barbara Wilson of the University of Illinois -- showed a group of 128 school children, ages 5-11, one of four versions of a 5-minute animated short and then asked them questions.