Stories about: television

Should I worry about junk food ads on kids' websites?

michaelrich_small1-198x300Media expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, answers your questions about media use. Last week, he discussed the effect of movies on babies.

Here’s this week’s question:

Q: My 7-year-old son is extremely good at navigating the Internet. In fact, he’s taught me almost everything I know about using the Web. I have software that blocks him from everything except kid sites like PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, and the Cartoon Network, where he has spent a lot of time and they seem harmless enough, but recently I’ve been hearing about junk food ads on websites. I don’t think he looks at them, but I’m wondering whether that’s a problem anyway. Am I missing something?
Websurfing in Washington, DC

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Ask a question about your child's media use

Michael RichMedia expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston answers your questions about media use.

Q: Our family does not have a TV or video game system in our house since my husband and I don’t approve of the shows and games that are out there. Some of my friends tell us that the kids will feel left out of social groups since they won’t know about the shows and characters their friends talk about.  What do you think?
TV-Free Family in Burlington, VT

A: Dear TV-Free Family,

There are not a lot of families that go without TV these days, so your friends are likely just shocked that it is actually possible to live without one! Research has not shown any negative effects of growing up without a TV. But here are some things to know about the challenges your kids may experience.

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Ask a question about your child's media use

Michael RichStumped by how to guide your child through the new media landscape? You’re not alone. While research shows that young people spend more time using media–TV, movies, music, computers, Internet, cell phones, magazines and video games–than engaging in any other single activity except sleep, parents everywhere are desperately trying to work out how much and what kind of media is good for their child.

Enter resident media expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston. As a former Hollywood filmmaker, he’s a media lover. But as a pediatrician, he’s aware that media has both positive and negative effects on children’s health. Each week, he provides science-based answers and practical solutions to reader-submitted questions about media use. This week, he tackles educational baby videos:

Q: I just became an aunt for the first time and while looking for baby gifts, I keep coming across educational DVDs for infants. Will these help my nephew get a head start on learning?

Amateur Aunt in Boston, MA

A: Dear Amateur Aunt, Congratulations! Being an aunt gives you the unique opportunity to have significant influence in a child’s life, without causing you massive sleep deprivation. I get this question a lot because parents always want to offer learning opportunities for their children. Though these videos are often marketed as educational, research has so far shown us that they are not helpful to learning.

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