According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are spending seven hours in front of television or on computers, reports an article on HealthDay News. The study includes television, cell phones, hand-held devices like a DS and the Internet. The study reports that in 1999 children were only averaging three hours. (Fewer devices, one would imagine.)
The concern is that children who are sitting and playing games or watching television and movies are not outside exercising, playing a role in the obesity epidemic. (The same could be said for a bookworm child.)
Another concern is the inappropriate content – sex, violence and gender messaging – a child spending that many hours as a “captive audience” is consuming.
Research has shown that high levels of media use are associated with school problems, attention difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.
Pediatricians are encouraged to ask media consumption questions at well-visits. Parents are encouraged to get media sources out of children’s bedrooms, encourage their children to “go out and play,” and be good media role models.
No one is holding out for a media-free world, but parents are encouraged to make sure their children are “media literate.” Children should understand what role media plays, know how to choose appropriate media verses damaging media, have the ability to distinguish between advertising and content, and be able to interpret the underlying messages in all forms of media.
“A media-educated person will be able to limit his or her use of media; make positive media choices; select creative alternatives to media consumption; develop critical thinking and viewing skills; and understand the political, social, economic and emotional implications of all forms of media. Results of recent research suggest that media education may make young people less vulnerable to negative aspects of media exposure.”