Stories about: children and media

I am 14 years old and don’t like playing first-person shooter games like my friends – what should I do?

Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: I am 14 years old, and currently debating my choice of friends. They all play first-person shooter (FPS) games, while I choose other kinds of games. They often tell me how great their games are but criticize mine. When they clamor for the new Call of Duty, I freak out over the new Sonic games. I am firmly against playing rated M (mature) or AO (Adults Only) games and so are my parents. Are my parents and I the odd ones out on this? Aren’t there negative effects associated with playing FPS games? And if so, what can I do?

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My six-year-old’s class is opening a Facebook account – what should I do?

Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: My 6 year-old daughter’s class is opening a Facebook account. They are spinning it as an “exciting new way to expose 1st graders to social media” and to help them learn to use it responsibly at a young age. The class will post photos, news, and videos of the children, and parents and relatives can read and send messages back. Some of this will be followed in the classroom on a big TV screen. Is there any scientific information on how exposure to social media affects very young children? I worry that many children already get too much screen time, and I see no reason to promote or teach social media until they are much older. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for kids this age to learn how to play with and respect each other—in person? Or how about having parents come in and read a story or share a personal interest instead? Isn’t there value in keeping young children young?

-Face-off with Facebook, in San Francisco, CA

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How can I help my daughters shift their media routine into back-to-school mode?

Michael RichMichael Rich, MD, MPH, is Boston Children’s Hospital’s media expert and director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health. (Visit their newly redesigned website here.) Send him a media-related parenting question via cmch@childrens.harvard.edu and follow him on Twitter @CMCH_Boston.

Q: I have two daughters, 8 and 6, who will be returning to school this September. I tend to be fairly liberal with the rules around media use during the summer, but this year both girls will be receiving iPads from their schools to use for classwork and homework. I’m concerned about getting the girls back into a balanced routine where they can focus on their schoolwork and assignments without being distracted by media, but with the addition of iPads and my eight-year-old needing to use the internet for homework, I’m not sure how to set boundaries. Any advice you can offer will be truly appreciated. Thanks!

~ Feeling the Back-to-School Blues, Dedham, MA

A: Dear Blues,

The introduction of tablets and smartphones into education has blurred the concept of screen time and screen time limits as a strategy for helping kids thrive in a digital environment. Using these tech tools both in the classroom and at home can help strengthen your child’s learning, but your guidance can help them use these tools optimally while balancing a rich and diverse menu of experiences.

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Don’t leave the TV on in the background!

I hear it all the time from parents when I ask how much time their kids spend watching TV. “They don’t really watch it,” they’ll say. “It’s on, but they are doing other things.” They say it as if it doesn’t count if the TV is on in the background.

It does.

And according to a study just released in the journal Pediatrics, the TV is on in the background an awful lot. The average US kid is exposed to four hours of background TV a day—and for kids 8 months to two years, that number jumps to a startling five and a half hours.

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