School Climate & Safety Report Roundup

Student Behavior

By Sarah D. Sparks — February 16, 2016 1 min read

Every teen and tween show at some point brings in gossip or bullying to amp up the drama. But years of watching relational aggression on television is linked to more peer bullying in real life years down the line, suggests a study in the February issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

Brigham Young University associate professor Sarah Coyne tracked 467 teenagers within a larger longitudinal family-life study. Coyne found students exposed to so-called “relational aggression"—rumor-mongering, ostracizing students, and so on—on television early on were more aggressive to their own friends three years later. For example, boys and girls alike were more likely to agree that, “when mad at a person, I try to make sure that the person is left out of group activities.”

While Coyne found students tended to watch more physically violent shows as older adolescents if they had been exposed to them as younger teenagers, that wasn’t the case for relational bullying. She also noted that while physical violence in television shows was portrayed as negative and abnormal, social bullying was portrayed as more normal.

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A version of this article appeared in the February 17, 2016 edition of Education Week as Student Behavior

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