Media Health Matters

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The season of sun, sand and free time!

Summer offers more opportunities for children to explore and balance their media-rich world with engaging activities from the world of nature. Outdoor exercise, imaginative play, and unstructured time can help kids develop their passions, creativity, leadership, and social skills. What summer experiences will shape the springs of your child’s curiosity and motivation?


The Research

The CMCH Database of Research provides research scientists, clinicians, educators, media producers, and parents with access to the current state of knowledge on media and child health. Two new studies examine media use and children’s behavior:

  • This study found that, compared to those who played violent or neutral video games, those who played relaxing video games were less aggressive and more helpful. See this study.  

  • Another study found that cyberbullies demonstrated less empathic responsiveness than non-cyberbullies. Cyberbullies were also more afraid of becoming victims of cyberbullying. Findings suggest that training empathy skills might be an important tool to decrease cyberbullying. See this study.  


The Questions and Answers

Drawing on his experience as a parent, pediatrician, professor, and 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 on Ask the Mediatrician®. What’s your question?


The Tips

“No directed activity can take the place of daydreaming, free play, and even boredom,” Dr. Michael Rich explains. “This is when kids engage their creativity, develop a sense of self, and learn to reflect on what is important to them. All the knowledge in the world cannot compare with the ability to think deeply about it.”


Y O U N G E R   K I D S :  

Play first, screen later. Play is the work of the child, so feel good about saying yes to playtime activities that build a rich library of experiences: visual, verbal, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, and social-emotional as well. Starting the day with active choices encourages good habits and success all day. Then, choose and enjoy media together.

O L D E R   K I D S :  
Connect, chill out, and create more than you consume. For teens, summer is for enjoying downtime, socializing, camping, conversation, first jobs, long bike rides, and summer tunes. When it is time for media, encourage teens to create something new. Write, draw, invent, compose, direct, or film, just for the fun of it — those activities build creativity today and may inspire creativity tomorrow.


The Teamwork


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The Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) and the Children, Adolescent, Media (CAM) Interest Group hosted the Pre-Conference on Media and Child Health at the International Communication Association annual meeting. The event brought together voices from academic research, children’s media production, and other key disciplines. The 75 attendees from around the world worked together to set the research agenda for media and child health over the next few years. For more information, look for the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Children and Media. 


Thank you to all involved for making this event a success!


Moderated by: Michael Rich, David Bickham, and Dafna Lemish. Presentations by: Sandra Calvert, Maya Götz, Amy Jordan, David Kleeman, Victor Strasburger, Patti Valkenburg, Ellen Wartella, and others. Facilitated by CMCH staff: Karen Fisher, Isabel Lopes, Sally Persing, Julie Polvinen, Lauren Rubenzahl, and Laura Sherman, as well as Rachell Arteaga and Craig Ross.