Media Health Matters


5 Media-Smart Resolutions for a Healthier Year!


These general guidelines address the 5 key factors influencing whether and how media affect child health–message, environment, developmental stage, information, & amount. Remember M.E.D.I.A. as you strive to help your family make smart choices and build healthy habits all year long!
Resolve to Consider:

Message: Choose media content that teaches healthy and accurate lessons. Content study


Environment: Keep screens in common areas of the house, co-view, & discuss. Context study


Developmental Stage: Match the individual child’s interests, skills, & vulnerabilities. Age study


Information: Continuously question, create, & learn about media. Media literacy study 


Amount: Limit media use to 2 hours a day (for children 2-17), then focus on gains. Time study 

Check out the specific resolutions relating to these 5 factors below, or invent your own — the possibilities are endless! Share your resolution progress on our Facebook page. 


— The CMCH Media Health Matters Team


The Resolutions    

Tips from the Parent Network 


1. Share a Penny and Your Thoughts. Discussing the healthful and harmful nature of media content helps kids learn to gather more useful and accurate information, and safeguard themselves from the influence of inaccurate and negative media messages. To keep the conversation going, place 2 jars near your family room TV and computer screen. Encourage the whole family to add a penny to the “Healthy” jar when they see or hear healthful/accurate media content, and to add a penny to the “Unhealthy” jar when they see unhealthy/inaccurate media content. Customize this learning tool to fit your family (for example, one family labeled the jars “Famous” versus “Important” to help them talk about celebrity culture), and enjoy discussing your findings. Message matters. 


2. Make ‘Family Culture Night’ a Tradition. Get your entire family involved in enjoying a movie, video, book, or album from another culture. Perhaps you’ll want to prepare a dish, learn a dance, or play a game associated with the culture you are learning about–and don’t forget to study your own. Try it once a week or once a month, and involve older kids in media discussions and the planning process. When you watch what your children watch and share positive family interactions, you are building smart habits. Environment matters.


3. Consider Children’s Vulnerabilities to Media. Children experience media differently at different stages. For example, we know that: 
  • preschoolers mimic what they see but don’t pick up on moral lessons
  • children under age 8 have difficulty separating fantasy from reality
  • adolescents learn beliefs about relationships, beauty ideals, & risk behaviors from media
  • children with learning disabilities may initially need extra guidance when engaging with media but can particularly benefit from media designed to support their learning  
Also consider what you know about your individual child as you seek to choose the media that fits him best. Developmental stage matters.


4. Share Media Thoughts Out Loud. Over the years, children develop their beliefs in part from the behavior you model and the comments you share. When you articulate real-time observations such as “Placing that product in the hands of those athletes on TV implies it is a healthy choice, but the product content label shows otherwise,” you demonstrate that you are wise to media techniques and help your child understand them as well. When it comes to raising media-literate kids, gentle repetitive guidance counts. Information matters.


5. Pay Attention to Attention. Be discerning about where you and your family members place your attention. Make your wise media choices a planned event, but don’t let media distractions get in the way of your desire to focus on physical activity, engagement in education, and family relationships. Reserve time to give the real people in your life your undivided attention. For the developing child everything is practice and how kids use their time is formative. Amount matters.


The Q &A         

From the Mediatrician


Dr. Michael Rich encourages families to enjoy their media and use them wisely! Drawing on his experience as a parent, pediatrician, professor, and filmmaker, Dr. Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions to your questions about media and child health.  


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How can I ensure social media safety for students with special needs?  Teach your students, teachers, and parents to treat online interactions as seriously as in-person ones–and to manage them in similar ways. That includes focusing on ways of managing their emotions before they go online...  > Read more






The Research  

From the CMCH Database                        

  • Kids who play food product games may eat more junk food. See this study