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Study: Curious George, Dora the Explorer and other educational programs help kids behave better

Darniyah Davis, 1, watches TV at her mother's home in Compton on October 3rd, 2012.
Darniyah Davis, 1, watches TV at her mother's home in Compton on October 3rd, 2012.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

You may have guessed that preschoolers will behave better when they're exposed to quality educational and socially-responsible television rather than programs that include violence. There is finally a scientific study that proves you right.

This week, Pediatrics. The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study that examined children’s behavior in relation to what they watch on television. The children were given a “controlled media diet” designed by the researchers to emphasize positive social behaviors. Researchers found that “modifying what children watch can improve their observed behavior.”

The study started from the assertion that “children have been shown to imitate behaviors they see on the screen.” Over the years, studies have shown that when children are exposed to violent television, their behavior patterns are more aggressive.

The study varied from previous attempts to gauge how TV affects children’s behavior , which have done so by reducing total screen time. This study deliberately kept watching time the same but simply substituted more educational programs.

Wondering what made the cut in terms of “prosocial” kiddy TV? Researchers found that Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street and Curious George, among others, were good role models for the preschool set.

*Note: Thanks to Dr Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby doctor, for his twitter tip on this study. Follow Dr Karp @DrHarveyKarp