Cartoons, characters linked to kids’ bad behavior: Power Rangers again

Feb. 18, 2013 | 2:25 p.m.
The Power Rangers check out their 20th anniversary collectibles at the American International Toy Fair on Feb. 10, 2013, in New York. Saban Brands was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise at the show. (Diane Bondareff / Invision for Saban Brands/Associated Press)

The Power Rangers check out their 20th anniversary collectibles at the American International Toy Fair on Feb. 10 in New York. Saban Brands was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise at the show. (Diane Bondareff / Invision for Saban Brands/Associated Press)

A new study on children’s behavior has found that certain TV programming beats other programming when you’re trying to calm aggressive, violent behavior in preschoolers.

And once again, the Power Rangers were among the evildoers.  Power Rangers bad. Dora, and presumably her monkey Boots, good.

What it comes down to is, less violent programming equals less violent preschoolers.  Parents who are always in search of quality animated films and TV shows for their kids may be tempted to reply, “Duh.”  What’s different about this new study was the emphasis on switching channels rather than simply pulling the cord out of the wall.

As the Los Angeles Times’ Monte Morin reports, researchers are saying parents should steer children in the right direction.

“It is a variation on the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em’ idea,” Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote.

“It’s about changing the channel,” the lead author of the study, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, told the Associated Press. “What children watch is as important as how much they watch.”

Seattle pediatrician and researcher Christakis, who did not immediately return calls Monday for comment, has been involved in previous studies on the effects of violent TV on kids.  In 2007, a study he was involved in singled out “Power Rangers,” “Star Wars,” “Space Jam” and “Spider-Man” — in addition to televised football and ice hockey — as violent entertainment. Over in the good column were animated films and TV shows including “Toy Story,” “Rugrats,” “Magic School Bus” and “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

Even classic Looney Tunes cartoons were singled out as a lousy example for kids.

“You are actually teaching them that violence is funny,” Christakis told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a 2007 interview.

The recent study by the University of Washington, published Monday in the online version of the journal Pediatrics, involved 565 Seattle parents, who filled out TV-watching diaries and questionnaires measuring their child’s behavior.

A control group of children was allowed to watch television as per usual, the L.A. Times reported, while a “media diet intervention” group was steered toward programming that featured nonviolent conflict resolution, cooperative problem solving, manners and empathy. (“Dora,” “Sesame Street,” “Super Why.”)

The results: The intervention group showed “significant improvements” in social competence testing scores after six months, according to Christakis. Low-income boys appeared to get the greatest short-term benefit the most, authors said.

As for those Power Rangers, their reputation as a questionable influence on kids has been around for quite a while.  A Cal State Fullerton study from 1995 compared two groups of kids around 7 years old and found “children in the Power Rangers [group] committed more aggressive acts per interval than control group children. Expressed as a ratio, for every 1 aggressive act by control group children there were 7 by children who viewed ‘The Power Rangers’ episode.”

Hey, Power Rangers fans. The shows debuted 20 years ago in August.  Did you grow up with it?  Did the helmeted crew increase your inclination to throw punches?  Would love to hear from you in the comments below.

For those who are nostalgic, here are photos of the Power Rangers through the years.

– Amy Hubbard

Comments


25 Responses to Cartoons, characters linked to kids’ bad behavior: Power Rangers again

  1. james says:

    I was 9 when Power Rangers made their debut…so perhaps I was past the age where TV had such a large influence on my behavior.

    My experience was that I loved “anything related to Ninjas” as a kid. TMNT, 3 Ninjas, Karate Kid, Power Rangers, you name it. I would play or pretend “violent scenario’s” by myself or with friends…but I never actually was violent. I love violent movies…but I have never been in a real fight. In all truth I deplore “real” violence, and would only act in necessary self defence…which hasn’t come up in my 29 years.

  2. Mike says:

    If a parent does their job and actually disciplines their kid correctly, then watching a show like Power Rangers won't matter. I know of many non-violent kids who enjoy Power Rangers. It has been a classic show for kids that also teaches great teamwork values.

    Kids who are aggressive because of watching Power Rangers, are actually aggressive for reasons far worse than a 20 minute TV show.

    • Afra says:

      Go Mike!!!! I totally agree with you! I love Power Rangers with my heart and soul and I am not violent. There are most definitely other factors. Please don't just blame the Power Rangers.

    • veronica says:

      I agree children need structure and discipline, but my son is deeply connected with the results of this study. Discipline or not, he just plain can't handle it. It also comes down on temperament and some parents just aren't tuned in to their children. Notice the focus on low-income results.

    • misanthropope says:

      it's funny how you adopt a tone like you know what you're talking about. what's it mean "discipline their kid correctly"? it means that not only can you not even hope to test your little preconception, but that you're prepared in advance to reject the findings if anybody else bothers to, and the results don't suit your confirmation bias.

  3. Andrew says:

    I was 8 years old when I the power rangers debut and I loved the show. I have never found T.V. to be the influence in the bad habits of kinds. The only people to be blamed are the parents. I grew up watching shows like Power Rangers and others that would be considered violent, and I never had issues in school regarding violence. Why because my parents took the time to remind me tthat what I was watching was just a T.V. show and that I could not copy what I saw at school. Now every now and than me and my friends would play power rangers, but never did we get violent to the point of hurting or fighting each other. No Power Rangers is not the problem…Its bad parenting. Nothing more.

  4. JediMB says:

    I grew up with TMN– err,TMHT and Power Rangers, as well as Spider-Man comics and the Doom/Quake games.

    I’m pretty much a pacifist. Heck, I distinctly remember that the school bullies back in 1994-1995 were the ones who DIDN’T watch Power Rangers. Because cable/satellite TV wasn’t very common in my town back then.

    And lastly I’d like to point out that there’s a difference between action and violence, and what is found in Power Rangers these days is even farther from the latter now than it was 20 years ago. Yes, Power Rangers has become “safer” over the years with more flash and less intensity.

  5. Craig says:

    It's just something to blame by old people who have no idea… It makes me laugh that back in the day, kids watched things like westerns with gun violence, etc… yet were they violent in the street? So, when Superheroes are fighting imaginary monsters, those same older generations turn to our TV? Only people with mental disorders could possibly react negatively like that – which is case for the parents to deal with. It's just an excuse for lazy parenting and spoiling children by doing so. It's so easy to blame anything else (like video games). There's a reason these things are rated the way they are, yet parents do not follow these a lot of the time. Also, if a parent suspects a health disorder relating to cognitive functions – they're bad parents for ignoring that and not helping their child.

  6. Melissa says:

    Lovely how every time one of these articles comes out, they fail to mention what Power Rangers actually teaches kinds on their show: healthy eating, teamwork, believing in yourself, standing up for what's right, making good choices, protecting your environment, staying active.

    Everytime a Power Ranger fights, it's to protect the Earth or to fight a monster. He will never fight just for the sake of fighting, and I think that's a pretty great lesson to teach as well.

  7. Miranda says:

    Your Logical on what you believe about the kids shows is ridiculous they kearn their bad behavior in the enviroment they are forced to live with not everything has to be blamed on tv. if you do not like it how about you rich asswholes fire your nanny's cut the tv and actually get outside with your kids and spend as much time as you can with him because soon or a later everything we once known will be gone change is irrelevant. so stop bitching and turn the tv off leave the shows alone its just someting to pass time they do what they are taught and watch from their parents so parents do a better job in raising your kids! :) thank you have a nice day

  8. madwelshbiker says:

    i dont think it has influenced childhood agression, but it has effected the way they dress as adults, you see far too many 20somethings dressed as power rangers riding their motorcycles. when we grew up, it was black leather with a denim cutoff on top

  9. Alvaro says:

    Of course watching "Dora" is going to make you more complaisant. However, I grew watching F1, Dragon Ball, dbz, dbgt, Power Rangers, spiderman, saint seiya and other very adult blood centric cartoons and turn out OK! Want to know why? Because my mom and dad did their job as adults an confronted any problems that may have risen from watching these shows. People outside of the US have and continue to watch very teen-adult oriented animations(cartoons) and have turn out great. I think these study say more about the lack of parenting in America than what kids watch! And, even though I no longer watch the Power Rangers, the show has gone above and beyond to protect kids minds by editing(YES, this is actually a Japanese show called "Super Sentai") the show so that parents can have a peace of mind. America needs better parents not stupid shows. Go I'd gladly watch Power Rangers than Jersey shore or Honey boo boo. Parents you reap what you sow! Don't pay attention to your kids because you're too busy watching ESPN or Oprah well obviously kids are gonna do whatever they want including becoming violent but if you talk with them and teach them right from wrong and allow them to make judgments then you'll see how good they turn out.

  10. Jackie O says:

    what about spongebob? my son is almost 3 and it just amazes him. I think its funny sometimes but I also think its sarcastic and annoying sometimes.

  11. tony says:

    PEOPLE GET A LIFE!!!!!! It's up to us, the adults, the parents to teach our children right from wrong. If anything, the Power Rangers are heroes, they get rid of the bad guys. We might as well stop TV programming all together. Programs like Dragon Ball Z, and Bleach would be considered violent. Why stop there? Why don't you radical fools take down our childhood legends like: Superman, Wonderwoman, Batman & Robin, Cat Woman, Spiderman, and the list goes on. These are the Super Heroes we grew up with as Children.

  12. Karlo says:

    I agree that the parents should be responsible for monitoring their children's behavior. It's as Craig said. I watched the Power Rangers when they first debuted in the 90's as a child. I never became violent. It taught me that fighting should only be a last resort. I also played as a pretend Power Ranger and I never actually hurt anybody while doing that as a kid. They also had lifelong lessons in there as well as the action, but the violence in the original Japanese footage was toned down to make it safe for kids to watch in the US. Also the Power Rangers are there for a reason. They fight to protect others from monsters who threaten them, but never to fight for the sake of fighting. Every generation of the Power Rangers carries on the same mission and that will never change. Please stop putting the blame on the Power Rangers. They're here to teach and protect. And to all parents, please monitor your kids' behavior in and out of school, and talk with them especially. It'll help.

  13. @lnanderson says:

    I loved Power Rangers and TMNT as a kid. I had action figures, bedsheets, slippers, etc. I am probably the least violent person anyone in my family knows. I was bullied all throughout middle and high school and never once did I get violent, throw a punch, or slap anyone in the face. Even now, I don't even like stepping on spiders. I think these studies are ridiculous. As long as you are a positive role model for your children and you explain to them that the shows are pretend and that real people don't behave with violence (even though that's false) then they will be fine. My son, who is now 4 watches the same shows…Power Rangers, TMNT, etc, and he's fine. He doesn't like stepping on spiders either.

  14. Turbo Red 1 says:

    Yes. Let's attack Power Rangers; a children's show about teamwork, protecting what's right, staying active, and believing in yourself, and let's leave Jersey Shore and all the other programs like it alone. Bravo. BRAVO. Do you know how many kids walk around yelling "SWAG", "YOLO", "I LOVE THE KARDASHIANS" all with their pants down? It's because, for whatever reason, parents will let them watch that, but not a show that's about 5 (sometimes 6) people in multicolored spandex costumes that save the world. It's the parents fault. Please do better research next time and stop singling out Power Rangers. Thanks. There are much more appropriate things you can attack.

  15. washhandsb4work says:

    I agree that most of children's behavior is dependent on the parents and how they discuss the stuff the kids watch. But often times, those parents that use a TV as a baby sitter with no thought to what their kids are watching also don't discuss how to be mature and that what's on TV is not proper behavior for real life. In those situations…the least a mediocre parent can do is monitor what the kid is watching and keep it as non-violent as possible. Yes, it's still the parents' fault for not training their kids properly but at least it's a step in the right direction.

  16. Jacob615 says:

    I grew up watching Power Rangers, I had a friend named Arron and we would pretend to be the Power Rangers together, and the only violence that came out of that was punching or kicking thin air, most of the time we would sit in Power Rangers HQ and plan our next operation more than we would actually fight off evil, and the most aggressive we ever got was when we would argue over who got to be the silver ranger.

  17. Kenneth Johnson says:

    power rangers are not bad at all

  18. Musically Gifted says:

    I grew up watching Power Rangers and I am fine. I am not violent at all and I did not have any urges as a kid to just hit someone. That show taught me to get the bad guys, not just to hurt someone and look cool doing it. They were like cops getting the bad guys off the street just through a little more entertainment that a child would find interesting. I wanted to be a Power Ranger because they were students, heroes, and friends and all that mattered was the safety of the others around them even if it meant sacrificing their lives for others.

  19. @prophet144 says:

    I love how the 'research' is done with the population of kids from one particular part of the country and not spread out as a whole. Get real people.__I grew up watching TV Westerns, Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galatica and several other shows that some people might say have violent tendencies. We played out some of these shows outside. Guess what??? I prefer to help people than I do beating people up. Now, if forced to, I can and will defend myself and/or others. I was in the Navy for 7.5yrs and that is where I first saw Power Rangers.__Power Rangers, as someone that was beyond its influence when it first started, was a great show for teaching team work

  20. H.T. says:

    Oh, dear. Is this the "they attacked a toy that you play with by attacking" test for aggression? Seriously, do you expect kids to cuddle a punching bag if you give them one?

    Learning that aggression is best released in a fun environment might be better than keeping it bottled up anyway.

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