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Tv and Nightmares

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Television is a very powerful influent in our everyday lives, especially children. Michael Schredl, head of research at the Sleep Laboratory at Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, conducted a study with 252 children ages ranging from 9 to 13. For the purpose of the study, a questionnaire was developed about "Media use and Nightmares." Then, a schedule was then created for the seven days of the week with columns representing one hour (Schredl, Anders, Hellriegel, & Rehm, 2008).

The children entered the amount of time they spent doing different activities, which included sleeping and schooling. The children were also asked to write down the films they watched on a regular basis, as well as the books that they read. The children had to try and recall a dream/nightmare from the proceeding night along with the content and topic of the dream.

In three schools (Gymnasium and Gesamtschule), children of the classes 5 to 7 filled in the questionnaire in the classroom supervised by one of the experimenters (Schredl, Anders, Hellriegel, & Rehm, 2008). The questionnaire was coded and analyzed with a statistical software package.

According to the results, there were no correlation between the frequency of nightmares and differences in TV viewing or computer game playing habits (2008, p. 69). In other words, contrary perhaps to popular lore, playing computer games in children does not cause nightmares. According to the report, television shows including popular police and crime shows appeared to have no impact on dreams whatsoever.

However, reading on the other hand, did appear to be connected with dreams, although researchers said the number of children affected was too small to be conclusive. According to Schredl, children might be more stimulated by reading than by watching TV. It might safe to say that the children fantasize over what they read, which causes them to dream during the night.

Forty six percent of the study respondents said they hadn't had any nightmares over the past few months, while thirty eight percent reported that they "occasionally did" and sixteen percent reported that they suffered from nightmares at least once a week. The girls appeared to have significantly more nightmares than the boys, although Schredl claimed that this could be because the girls remembered more of their dreams than the boys.

Nightmares have shifted over time, he says. Bad dreams starring the bogeyman were most common in the 1920s, he found in reviews of previous research, but that shifted to ghosts, witches and devils in the 1950s. By the 1990s, nightmares were most often populated by Hollywood horrors, making the findings of this latest study dismissing the effects of TV all the more surprising.

What was intriguing about these reports is that many children are now more focused being entertained by new types of media rather than the usual outdoor child



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