Teenagers who watch pro wrestling on TV are more likely to behave violently than other kids, Wake Forest University researchers reported today, and girls seem to be more influenced than boys.
"It's yet more evidence that, when it comes to kids and media, learning happens," said Kimberly Thompson, a public health professor at Harvard University.

The study was published today in the August issue of Pediatrics.

A team led by Robert H. DuRant, a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest's Baptist Medical Center, surveyed about 2,000 students in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County public high schools in 1999 and again in 2000.

The study found that teens of both sexes who watched wrestling more often showed higher rates of violent behavior. And DuRant said girls who watched wrestling six or more times over a two-week period started date fights 170 percent more often than those who didn't watch wrestling.

"It's something that people just don't expect," Thompson said. "The perception is that girls just aren't aggressive."

World Wrestling Entertainment spokesman Gary Davis rejected the findings. "In contrast to the findings of this flawed study, many of our fans attest that watching World Wrestling Entertainment programming has been a positive experience for them and their children," he said.