Media Health Matters


Isn’t that romantic? 


What does the media world teach kids about romantic relationships? Does your child see and hear more messages about warmth, commitment, and respectful relationships, or more about physical appearance, sexual innuendo, and sexual behavior? For better or worse, repetitive messages presented in entertaining ways can be educational and formative. These tips, Q&As, and research findings may help you discuss not just the biological but also the emotional aspects of healthy relationships with your child. Share your thoughts with other parents on our Facebook page!


The Tips 


Y O U N G E R   K I D S:     

  • Teach kids to set boundaries. Helping your child set boundaries can be an age-appropriate way to build a foundation for future conversations about friendship, relationships, and sexuality. Media messages can influence how children think about gender roles, dating norms, and how they expect to be treated. Teach your preschooler to recognize when he feels unsafe around another child, and then say “stop” with an arm extended and hand up–or find an adult. The ability to recognize feelings and set boundaries may help your child protect him or herself and learn to respect the boundaries of others as well.  


O L D E R   K I D S:                                                       

  • Don’t outsource relationship training. Kids are in relationship training every day of their lives, learning both subtle and vivid lessons at home, in school, and in the media. As a parent, you are uniquely positioned to influence that training–and you can have a positive impact if you engage actively in it:  
    • Reinforce the lessons you’d like them to learn by practicing media literacy with them. Help them identify differences between how relationships work in media and how they would like them to work in real life. 
    • Use sexual content in the media as a way to start a conversation about things you value in romantic relationships, such as intimacy and emotional connection. Keep it light; sharing your own humorous or embarrassing stories (about your first crush, for example) can sometimes help ease this ongoing discussion.


The Q&A


Pediatrician, professor, parent, and former filmmaker Dr. Michael Rich answers parents’ questions about media and health. Encouraging families to enjoy their media and use them wisely, Dr. Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions. 

What’s your question? Ask the Mediatrician┬«.           


The Research


The CMCH Database of Research (DoR) provides parents, media professionals, clinicians, teachers, and researchers access to the current state of knowledge regarding electronic and print media and the effects they may have on child health. The following studies examine the relationship between media and children’s development and behavior. 

  • Stop Bugging Me: An examination of adolescents’ protection behavior against online harassment suggests that public service programs should aim to increase coping appraisals and emphasize the severity of online harassment. See this study 
  • Multitasking hinders youth social skills: This study found that young girls who spend the most time multitasking between digital devices are the least likely to develop normal social tendencies, while face-to-face time was strongly associated with positive social well-being. This article is based on this study.