*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
Children engrossed in popular kids’ TV programs such as Peppa Pig, or films like Toy Story or Frozen, are exposed to up to nine incidents of pain for every hour of TV watched, according to new research from psychologists.
A new study, published in the international journal Pain from researchers at the universities of Bath (UK) and Calgary (Canada)—analyzed how characters’ experiences of pain were depicted across different media aimed at 4 to 6-year olds.
The team behind the research was interested in assessing what painful incidents characters were subject to, as well as how they and others around them responded.
Researchers say this work matters because what children watch on TV shapes and models their behaviors. They want producers to use their influence to re-think how pain is portrayed in order to better equip young people to cope with common, everyday pain which they are more likely to experience but is often forgotten and misunderstood.
Lead researcher, Dr. Melanie Noel, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology from the University of Calgary said: “We examined shows and movies that millions of young children in North America and beyond are watching. The findings were, frankly, shocking.
“It is undoubtable that the media is a powerful force in how children learn about the world. The way pain is unrealistically portrayed is teaching young children that pain is not worthy of help or empathy from others and that it will be experienced and responded to differently if you are a boy or a girl. We have a responsibility to change these societal narratives about pain.”