According to a new study by two U.S. researchers, children aged two to 12 are being exposed to an alarming amount of socially aggressive and bullying behaviour, in addition to the regular kind of physically violent behaviour parents are often warned about.

For the study, published in the Journal of Communication, Nicole Martins and co-author Barbara J. Wilson conducted a content analysis of the 50 most popular children’s television programs according to Nielsen Media Research for the 2005 to 2006 viewing season. After analyzing three random episodes of each show, they found that 92 per cent contained some form of social aggression -- behaviours such as gossiping and manipulation of friendships.