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Media Influence on Kids: Monster or Magician?

Media influence on kids has become the subject of increased focus by parents, educators, and healthcare professional. New research has named several areas of influence in which media content has a negative effect on children. Violence and aggressive behavior, sexual content, body image and self-esteem and physical health and school performance were cited as the main areas of concern.

  • Violence: The incidents of violence shown on the news, in movies and prime-time TV has increased and become more graphic in nature. This can lead to desensitization to pain and suffering as well as increased anxiety.
  • Sexual content: A report was issued in 1996 citing that kids were exposed to at least eight sexual references per hour during “family hour”. The results were found that such exposure can affect adolescents’ moral judgment. These statistics have no doubt increased over the past fourteen years.
  • Body image: The promotion of unrealistic expectations of what’s considered acceptable physical appearance for both boys and girls can be a catalyst for the rise in eating disorders and decline in self-esteem.
  • Physical health and school performance: The average American child spends more than twenty hours per week watching TV as well as additional time on the internet, playing video games and using a cell phone. This takes time away from homework and exercises contributing to the increase in childhood obesity and poor school performance. Parents are encouraged to have a proactive involvement in their child’s media involvement.The beneficial effects are early preparedness for learning, exposure to social issues, the arts and other healthy entertainment. Remember to take notice and be interested in what your child is doing. Keep communications open and offer alternatives that are within their frame of interest.

Please visit our Kids & Media section for tips on how to make sure how to protect children from media dangers and suggestions for positive media.