TV Media’s Influence on Child Development
“Several risks to pediatric health are literally staring children in the face. It’s time to call the doctor.”
Want to share this old, but great article from the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin. Very interesting points about how media cuts into many issues such as obesity, eating disorders, attention disorders, violence, sex, and drug use and how Medical Professionals need to deeply consider how much media has an influence on the development of these.
As this fairly long article is well written, I will simply excerpt huge chunks of it. I’ve copied out significant paragraphs and bolded the main points. Hope it is helpful. Full Article Here. The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, never, never let
Them near your television set…
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it…
Did you ever wonder exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
His brain becomes as soft as cheese
His powers of thinking rust and freeze
He cannot think—he only sees!
—the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
TV Media on Child Development
The Oompa-Loompas’ cautionary song about the hypnotic effects of television on children may have seemed alarmist in 1964 when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published, but now its lyrics seem almost understated. In Roald Dahl’s story, television addict Mike Teavee pays for his obsession by getting shrunk to the size of an actor on a television screen. Dahl exaggerates the effects of excessive viewing, but for children glued to media screens today, the consequences may be more insidious and just as hazardous. Decades of research have established that television and other screen media—movies, the Internet, and video games—constitute a powerful environmental influence on children’s health and development, according to the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston. American children aged 8 to 18 spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes daily using media—more time than they spend in school or with their parents. And the risks of so much time spent in thrall to their screens are serious. More than 2,200 studies have linked media use and aggressive behavior. By age 18, a child will, on average, have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence, including 18,000 murders. Children’s programs—shows that one would expect to be free of violence—average 14 violent acts per hour, 8 more than adult programs. For adolescents, the influence of violence in media may even prove fatal: the top three causes of death among 15- to 19-year-olds all involve accidental or intended violence.
Media’s Influence on the Mind
Like the Oompa-Loompas, Michael Rich ’91 understands the powerful clutch media can have on the mind, especially the mind of a child. So well has research documented the connection between watching violence on television and aggressive behavior, he says, that the correlation is “stronger than those linking calcium with bone density and passive smoke with lung cancer.” Rich, a pediatrician and former filmmaker who worked for two years with the famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, directs the Center on Media and Child Health. Much of Rich’s research has focused on the dangers stemming from the violence depicted on television and, more recently, the violence that permeates video games.
One 2004 study by another group compared the physiological responses of adults playing four different video games, two with storylines and two without. The researchers found that story-based video games led to significantly more character and game identification and increased physiological arousal. Other studies have documented how such physiological responses can lead to aggression. “If you watch a violent show and a half hour later go to a store where someone cuts you in line, you’re...
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