Children and the Media

1 Jun 2012
Author: Lindsay Johnson
Read time: 3 min
Category: Archive

Children under two years old should not watch television, older children should not have television sets in their bedrooms and pediatricians should have to fill out a “media history” along with a medical history, on office visits recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy has now laid out a plan for how pediatricians and parents can deal with television.

The academy based its recommendations for children on the knowledge of what babies need for proper brain development, interaction and social development. Children also learn information that may be inappropriate or incorrect and they cannot tell the difference between the fantasy and reality. Children who watch a lot of television are likely to have lower grades in school, read fewer books, exercise less and be overweight.

Violence, sexuality, race and gender stereotypes, drug and alcohol abuse are common themes of television programs. Impressionable young people may assume that what they see on television is typical, safe and acceptable. Television also exposes children to behaviors and attitudes that are overwhelming and difficult to understand.

The Academy has been involved in research, communications and media influences for a long time. And recommends that older children do not watch more than one to two hours of quality television per day. Parents can help by not allowing children to watch long blocks of TV, but help them select individual programs. Set certain periods when the television is off.

There are reviews of almost every movie, so be sure to read them and not let your child go to an inappropriate movie. Check the movie guides to find the amount of sex or violence in the film and do not assume that just because your child is young they won’t “get it.”

Some radio shows have become quite explicit, using foul language and insinuations that are supposed to shock the audience. Be aware of what stations your child is listening to and monitor that station.

The evidence is clear that media use can have an effect on children’s overall health: physically, mentally and emotionally. Encourage discussion with your children about what they are seeing and doing. Point out positive behavior, such as cooperation, friendship and concern for others. Talk about your personal and family values as they relate to what they are seeing. Encourage your children to be involved in hobbies, sports and their peers. With proper guidance, your child can learn to use the media in a healthy and positive way.

Vol 21 Issue 2 page 5

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