Media Health Matters

O C T O B E R    2 0 1 1    |     THE SCIENCE BEHIND RAISING MEDIA SMART KIDS

Are your child's media choices frightening or enlightening?

 

Keeping up with changes in children's developmental needs and media can be a trick, but don't let a lack of information terrify you. Check out this month's tips, Q&A's, and research to learn how you can help kids choose media that can support their social, cognitive, and physical health--now that's a treat!  

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NEW resources for parents! 
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Do you ever struggle to figure out how to talk with your children about internet safety? Our new conversation starters, available on the CMCH Parent Resource Pages, can help you approach the subject with kids of all ages:

Internet Talk for Preschoolers        Internet Talk for School-Age Children

Internet Talk for Tweens               Internet Talk for Teens


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The Tips 

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Y O U N G E R   K I D S: 

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Acknowledge the violence, but focus on the heroes. When your school-age child sees reports of violence on the news, he can become anxious or fearful, and may have trouble sleeping. To help prevent and address these effects, take time to talk about this frightening influence. Acknowledge that what happened, and listen to and affirm your child's feelings about it ("I know, that is scary and upsetting"). If fitting, explain that it didn't happen near home and that, even though it is reported many times (which can be confusing to kids), it only happened once. Then, help your child redirect his focus onto the heroes--like nurses, doctors, fireman, and volunteers--who helped make the situation better.

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O L D E R   K I D S:  

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Share your views. Enjoy sharing the YouTube videos, TV programs, or movies that your teen is viewing, and take the time to share your viewpoint as well. Think about challenges your teen will encounter during the coming years, like alcohol use and healthy relationships, and use media depictions of those topics to prompt casual but useful conversations. These conversations, as well as the pro-social media content you share with your teens--can shape your teen's judgement and inspire success. 

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The Q & A

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Encouraging families to enjoy their media and use them wisely, Dr. Michael Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions on Ask the Mediatrician®

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The Research

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The following studies examine the relationship between media use and child mental and physical health. Explore the CMCH Database of Research to learn more!

  • This study suggests that daily TV viewing in excess of 2 hours is associated with reduced physical and psychosocial health. 
  • This study found that regular users of mobile phones were not more likely than non-users to be diagnosed with brain tumors. 

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The Center on Media and Child Health is an interdisciplinary research group investigating how media affect the health of children and adolescents. Using the remarkable resources of Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health, we collect, analyze, and present scientific data to help parents and others who care for children make informed decisions about their media use.

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