Stories about: Media & marketing

Do eReaders harm children’s eyes?

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

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

Q: We recently bought eReaders for our sons, ages 5 and 7. I am wondering if we should treat the time they spend reading on these devices the same as the time they spend reading library books or books from their own bookshelf? Also, I know that generally the concern around screen time is with attention issues, but are there any adverse consequences for vision associated with reading an eReader as opposed to a printed book?

~eCurious from Grand Isle, VT

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Never learning violence

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

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

Last week, the New York Times featured an article entitled “Unlearning Gun Violence”, which discussed the work of an epidemiologist who, after a decade of fighting TB, HIV, and cholera in Africa, returned to a life-threatening epidemic in his hometown of Chicago—violence. He uses the same techniques that worked in Africa, teaching perpetrators and victims of violence to prevent recurrence of this deadly cycle. Such secondary and tertiary prevention is effective—but after the fact. Prevention of future violence can only happen after violence has occurred, identifying those at risk for aggression and victimization.

One day earlier, a research report in Pediatrics detailed the dramatic increase in gun violence in PG-13 movies, tripling over the past 3 decades. Movies that any child can watch (hopefully, but not necessarily with parental guidance) are now more violent than those that are restricted to those 17 or older unless accompanied by an adult. One day later, I was asked to present research in support of a bill in the Massachusetts Senate that would appoint an expert commission to study whether and how video games and other interactive media influence and teach their users.

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Viral video exposes extreme airbrushing that could impact body image

The “BodyEvolution” video, posted in 2011 and 2012, has gone viral, again. The video captures the extent and ease of airbrushing in popular media and may reminds parents of its detrimental effects on kids.

Teens are bombarded with images of perfectly sculpted models, and it’s not uncommon for them to crave a similar look and physique. “[It’s] completely unattainable, because the photos have been extensively altered,” says Alison Field, ScD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine.

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If media is like food, how is your family’s diet?

Media has become as much a part of life as food—but we don’t always have the healthiest diets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just updated their policy statement entitled “Children, Adolescents and the Media.” It’s full of some really interesting facts. Did you know that 8 to 10 year olds spend eight hours per day with some kind of media, and for older children and teens that goes up to more than 11 hours a day? As they point out, young people currently spend more time with media than they do in school.

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