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The Impact of Morphin Power on Kids

March 05, 1994

It was with grave concern that we recently read of the popularity of "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and the naive, misleading views from TV executives that masqueraded as justifications for the program ("Morphin Mania: How--and Why?," Feb. 26). The executives claimed that each show features a "positive" message, contains violence that is acceptable because it is clearly marked as fantasy, and offers children "positive role models." A recent study we conducted on the "Power Rangers" is alarming in its demonstration that the show increases violent behavior in children.

In our study, one group of children viewed an entire episode of "Power Rangers" and then were observed for several minutes playing with classmates. We also observed a control group of children who did not watch the episode. There was a frightening difference between the aggression levels of the two groups.

Children--especially boys--who saw the program, displayed six times the number of aggressive acts as children in the control group. Much of their aggression was a direct imitation of the program's action, such as flying karate kicks.

Parents may be interested in knowing that when we tallied the number of aggressive acts in the "Power Rangers" episode that we showed the children, there were about 140 aggressive acts in the 23-minute episode.

Does the show offer positive messages or role models for children? Is the surfeit of violence understood by children as mere fantasy, not appropriate for the playground? We offer a resounding "no" on all counts. The writers and producers have a long way to go before they can claim in good conscience that the show has these positive benefits for children.

CHRIS J. BOYATZIS, Ph.D

GINA MATILLO

KRISTEN NESBITT

Dept. of Child Development

Cal State Fullerton

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Why is the success of "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" such a mystery to anyone--especially child psychologists, who spend years studying to understand children? Any parent knows that kids crave this sort of stuff--good guys whomping bad guys. The theme is very clear and reassuring. If only life were so! Sometimes bad just has to be whomped.

I think the "Power Rangers" is the most innocent, juvenile-appropriate program on TV today. What I resent is that mainstream cartoons have become adult-themed, as if the writers cannot land jobs with prime-time sitcoms, so they've brought their brand of (non)humor to children's cartoons. They are peopled with disrespectful and rude characters, idiot adults and filled with innocuous sexual innuendo and sarcasm.

These cartoons are too talky, too mean-spirited and confusing. Keep it simple, let kids be kids, and you see the results with a successful show such as "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."

MAUREEN HOWARD

Arleta

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