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Kids and Screens: Media and Health
It is no secret that children today are exposed to an amazing amount of media. How concerned should parents be? A recent article published in the journal Pediatrics describes what's out there, how it is affecting our children, and how we can start reining in the power of the media.(1)
A Massive Problem and Opportunity
Studies have shown that today's children and teens spend an average of seven or more hours per day attending to screens of one sort of another. (2) They have much more than just TV to attract them. Seventy-one percent of teens, ages 12-17, have cell phones and 97% report that they play video games on some type of media device.(3)
Here are a few of the negative ways media affect the health of our youth: The internet and other media can provide information, which may not be complete or accurate. They can shape attitudes towards risk by portraying dangerous behaviors in an unrealistically consequence-free manner. It can compete with adults for the role of advisors. It can normalize antisocial behaviors such as aggression, bullying, harassment, and lying. It can link children and teens to others who may not have their best interests at heart. And it can replace time spent in other more positive and healthful activities.
Our children often appear to be irretrievably enmeshed in a screen- and media-dominated world. And then there are the dangers of texting or phoning while driving.
But technology can disseminate positive as well as negative messages and media venues from websites to computer games can also be used to achieve positive goals.
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