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Limit Kids’ Exposure to Media Violence, Pediatricians Say

Media violence has become a routine part of the daily lives of American children, and parents, lawmakers and the media should take steps to change that, a leading pediatricians’ group recommends.

The new policy statement, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), calls on pediatricians to routinely ask about children’s “media diet,” and for parents to limit the violent content their kids see — whether on TV, online or in video games.

Video gaming is a particular concern, partly because of the advent of 3D technology that creates a “more immersive experience with violence,” said statement author Dr. Dimitri Christakis.

Christakis directs the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

 The policy statement points to a “proven scientific connection” between virtual violence and real-life aggression, the doctors say. Many studies have found such links, Christakis said.

Some media violence experts contend that such a link is far from proven.

However, Christakis noted that “aggression” can include “being rude,” arguing or — for those old enough — driving aggressively.

“With children, actual physical violence is, thankfully, rare,” Christakis said.

But, he added, “aggressive thoughts and feelings do precede violence.”

The policy statement advises parents to: play their kids’ video games with them, so they know exactly what the content is; shield children younger than 6 from all violent media, including “cartoon violence,” and ban “first-person shooter” games altogether.

Christakis acknowledged that most kids will not be turned into violent offenders because of video games or movies. But he pointed to “societal level” effects of widespread media violence.

Click here to read more from Healthfinder

Kids who Text while Watching TV may Underperform in School

Adapted from Science Daily

The more time teenagers spend splitting their attention between various devices such as their phones, video games or TV, the lower their test scores in math and English tend to be. More time spent multitasking between different types of media is also associated with greater impulsivity and a poorer working memory in adolescents, says Amy S. Finn of the University of Toronto. Finn was one of the leaders of a study on the topic published in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

According to Finn, the term “media multitasking” describes the act of using multiple media simultaneously, such as having the television on in the background while texting on a smartphone. While it has been on the rise over the past two decades, especially among adolescents, its influence on cognition, performance at school, and personality has not been assessed before.

Click here to read more about the study including the affects “media multitasking” may have on your child’s academic performance.

Characters and Mascots in Food Marketing to Kids

Brand mascots and media characters are used in marketing foods and beverages to children—often for products that are unhealthy, according to a review from Healthy Eating Research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The brief notes that while some progress has been made by food, beverage, restaurant, and entertainment companies to ensure that brand mascots and licensed media characters are used to promote healthier foods, beverages, and meals, significant opportunities for improvement still exist.

The brief also indicates that younger children are especially vulnerable to the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products that use brand mascots or media characters because they have difficulty distinguishing between advertising messages and factual information.

Click here to read the brief

Kids And Screen Time: A Peek At Upcoming Guidance

Young boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Adapted from NPR Ed

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it’s even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn’t include time spent using devices for school or in school.

From babies with iPads to Chromebooks in classrooms, digital devices seem more ubiquitous every year. And one of the hottest issues today in both parenting and education circles is the proper role of electronic media in children’s lives.

There’s research to support both the benefits and dangers of digital media for developing minds. Plenty of questions remain unanswered.

But those of us raising and teaching children can’t afford to wait years for the final evidence to come in. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics plans to update its guidelines on media use later this year. Current recommendations are to avoid all screens for children under 2, and to allow a maximum of two hours per day of high-quality material for older children.

NPR spoke with David Hill, chairman of the AAP Council on Communications and Media and a member of the AAP Children, Adolescents and Media Leadership Working Group, to hear about the upcoming recommendations and to get some advice on how to use screens wisely.

Click here to read the interview

Teens Spend More Hours Consuming Media Than Sleeping

­Young boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

A recent report on media use reveals that teens are now spending more hours consuming media than sleeping. The average American teenager is spending about nine hours a day on entertainment media alone.  The research shows that on average, kids are spending about 40% of this time on “passive consumption” compared with just 3% of their time on content creation.
Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours or less of screen time per day for children.  So how do we encourage our children to put down the electronic devices and engage in other activities?  Here are our top suggestions:

Watch your own screen habits. Although your teen may not seem to pay attention to anything you do or say, you are still her most important role model. So you can’t tell her to cut back on TV time if you’re watching endless hours of TV, texting while you’re driving, or eating dinner with your Blackberry on the table.

Remind teens to limit screen usage. Banning electronics completely isn’t realistic these days, but it’s important to let your teen know you’re paying attention to how much time she’s on a screen.

Encourage activities that involve socializing. Look for activities and clubs that engage your teen socially, so he will get out and be with other people.

Create screen rules together. You’ll be more likely to get your teen’s buy-in if you come up with screen-time rules as a family.

Talk about it. Simply setting limits won’t go over well with older teens, who need to have rules that make sense to them.