Stories about: Internet use

Rise in sexual violence may be connected to exposure of children to pornographic images

A recent study revealed information that many parents may find troubling: nearly one in 10 young people have engaged in some type of sexual violence, by either coercing or forcing some type of sexual contact upon someone else. The study also suggests a connection between this behavior and being exposed to violent pornographic images. Michael Rich, MD, MPH, Boston Children’s media expert and director of the Center on Media and Child Health, shares his thoughts on what parents need to take away from this eye-opening report.

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Investigating a health risk behavior once thought to be restricted to adults, research published last week in JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly 10 percent of adolescents reported having forced sex with others or committing sexual violence. The most frequent age of first committing sexual violence was 16; 98 percent of those who first committed sexual violence at 15 or younger were male, but by 18 and 19, males (52 percent) and females (48 percent) were equally involved.

Those who reportedly committed sexual violence were significantly more likely to have used media that portrayed violent sex (hurting a partner while having sex), sexual situations (kissing, fondling and non-violent sex) and non-sexual violence (fighting, shooting and killing), as opposed to those who reported not committing sexual violence.

Research on the effects of violent media has shown that while “copycat” imitation of media may be rare, exposure to media violence shifts expectations about violence for many users who come to accept it as a means of resolving conflicts, are more likely to use it and are less likely to defend its victims.

Read Full Story

How can I limit my teen’s Internet time without distracting him from homework or invading his privacy?

We recently ran a post on whether or not it’s OK for parents to monitor their teenagers’ Facebook page if they suspect the child is engaging in risky behaviors like drinking or drug use. In this blog by Children’s media expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, a parent asks for advice on how to balance her desire to respect her son’s online privacy while still setting limits on much time he spends on the computer.

Q: My 16-year-old son uses the computer constantly at home in his room and almost always claims he is doing homework. He doesn’t want me to look over his shoulder and see what he is doing when I come into his room, and frankly, I want to allow him his privacy when he is on the computer, as well as in other areas of his life. I believe that he spends too much time on the computer, to the detriment of other activities such as time with family, reading, extracurricular activities, etc., but he disagrees and doesn’t want to be controlled by his parents. Any suggestions?

-Computer confused mom, NY, NY

Read Full Story

This week on Thrive: Jan. 18 – 22

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

Researchers have found that morphine can lesson PTSD before it even strikes. Graco recalled 1.5 million strollers. Schools are starting to evaluate students’ weights. Children’s Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP carried the Olympic torch for children everywhere. Kids spend more time online than they do in school. Children’s Joanne Cox, MD reflects on the alleged Gloucester pregnancy pact on the eve of Lifetime’s movie based on news stories. Keep up with Children’s disaster response teams working in Haiti.

Read Full Story

Top pediatric health stories of 2009

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435From swine flu to obesity to dangerous plastics, many issues that affect children’s health garnered media attention in the year 2009. Here’s a rundown of the some of the biggest and most important stories:

H1N1

This is the story that caught the most attention—for good reason. Not only is the H1N1 influenza virus very contagious, it appears to particularly affect young people. H1N1 caused more pediatric hospitalizations and deaths than we usually see with the seasonal influenza virus, which is very scary for parents (and pediatricians!). The virus led to countless school closings—sometimes to control the spread, and sometimes because there weren’t enough teachers left to teach!

Read Full Story