Williams et al (1981): does TV affect children's behaviour?

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Williams wanted to measure children's behaviour before and after television had been introduced to the town and also to compare the children's behaviour with that in other towns that did have TV.

Williams et al carried out a natural experiment. They measured a range of behaviours before and after the town received television:

  • Aggression of children in the playground and classroom
  • Leisure activities the community were involved in
  • Intelligence level (IQ) of children
  • Creativity and reading ability of children

To measure aggression, two observers watched children in the school playground and classroom. They only started observing once the children were used to their presence. This was to make sure the children didn't behave differently because of the observers watching them. They measured the number of physical acts of aggression (hitting) and verbal aggression (teasing). They called the town 'Notel' (not its real name) and also studied two neighbouring towns with similar population and economy: Unitel and Multitel.

  • Notel - had no television
  • Unitel - had one TV channel
  • Multitel - had many TV channels

All three towns were studied before TV was introduced in Notel, and for two years after.

Results after the introduction of TV to notel:-

  • The most significant finding came from the observations of aggressive behaviour - the children were…


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