Superheroes such as Batman, Superman and Spider-Man are a big part of life for under-fives – but the lessons they learn from the shows aren’t what you’d expect.
While superheroes usually defend the weak and selflessly battle evil, pre-school children tend to admire them simply because they’re big and vioolent.
Researchers led by Sarah M. Coyne from Brigham Young University interviewed 240 children about their favourite superheroes – and found that they admired them for all the wrong reasons.
Coyne says, ‘Twenty percent of these children associated their favorite superhero with some type of violent skills.
Children said, ‘He’s big and can punch’ and ‘Because he can smash and destroy everything, and he doesn’t care because he’s a big bully.’
Coyne believes this is because the shows are made for older children – and the themes of protecting the weak may be too complex for pre-schoolers to pick up.
Coyne said, ‘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, but our study shows the exact opposite.
‘Kids pick up on the aggressive themes and not the defending ones’
‘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.’