This could explain why superheroes are banned at some schools.

A new study has revealed pre-schoolers do not admire these fictional characters for their bravery, but instead, favor their violent skills. Inevitably turning some children into bullies.

Researchers found that this age group is unable to pick up on the moral message in programs and only comprehends aggressive themes, shared Daily Mail.

The new study was conducted by Sarah M. Coyne from Brigham Young University to understand what preschool-aged boys and girls take away from being exposed to these fictional characters.

‘So many preschoolers are into superheroes and so many parents think that the superhero culture will help their kids defend others and be nicer to their peers,’ Coyne said, ‘but our study shows the exact opposite.

‘Kids pick up on the aggressive themes and not the defending ones.’

Although parents may think their kids watching Superman or Batman rescue the weak from villains will teach them to do the same, they are only noticing the aggressive themes in the programs.

Coyne discovered that children were not more likely to defend other children who were bullied and were not likely to be prosocial.

Even though superheroes can affect a child’s behavior, Coyne says these findings should not push parents to completely disengage their children.

‘Again, I’d say to have moderation,’ Coyne said. ‘Have your kids involved in all sorts of activities, and just have superheroes be one of many, many things that they like to do and engage with.’

The reason these characters can impact preschool children may be because the stories are not made for their age group.

These shows have complex story lines that can be packed with violence and pro-social behaviour – and preschoolers are unable to pick up on the moral message.

Twenty percent of the children involved in the study associated their favorite superhero with some type of violent skills.

For example, ‘He’s big and can punch’ and ‘He smashes and gets angry.’

Some were milder, while others suggested blatant aggression.

‘Because he can smash and destroy everything, and he doesn’t care because he’s a big bully.’

‘Another child stated that Captain America was his favorite superhero ‘because he can kill.’

You can find the study here.

Share your comments below. 

Image via getty

  • If the parents are good role models then superheroes are just fiction. It all depends on how children are being raised.


  • The most important role models are the ones in the home… the parents. Doesn’t matter what they watch if they don’t see a good example before them every day.


  • I don’t believe this to be entirely the case at all – I feel that young kids can be just as easily influenced into violence simply by listening to or watching the news each day – the only things that the media think to show is violence – gang violence, terrorist violence, individual’s taking out their aggression on loved ones or even complete strangers, drive by shootings, hit and run’s the list of horrible things that individuals do in our Australian society is beyond belief and yet the media publicize this and make it breaking headlines and talk about it constantly and now it just seems to be an everyday occurrence in our lovely country that seems to be simply tolerated and expected!


  • When I was a kid we the cartoons which are now classed as super violent, we had Cowboys and Indians with guns and arrows and most kids had cap gun so they could play their own game of Cowboys and Indians, and we had the super heros….superman and batman and also wonder woman. I dont think these shows make a child act in a certain way at all. Its possible that movies today are more graphic which wouldnt help but really its all on how a child is raised.


  • I looked at the study and it appears to be American and it appears the study only involved 240 children. Seems like a small number of children to be able to make a conclusion. Demographics and other important social factors would need to be factored in too.


  • I don’t think it creates bullies in the younger kids, I think they just don’t understand what they are doing, they are just copying


  • Parents should make choices regarding what children watching considering what the impact may be.
    Some children just think the characters are very clever and think it’s funny and don’t think about the “other side” of it at all. Maybe the first time your child watches ask why he/she like it…


  • I thunk these experts only focus on the minority. They forget that kids also have the influences of mum and dad. I still maintain parental influence is the main part of a child’s upbringing


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