Media Health Matters


Be Prepared! Build Smart Media Habits
Back-to-school checklists aren’t complete without discussions about your child’s household media routine and mobile devices. Each school year brings new situations and questions for both students and parents. You need resources that can help you choose media that will maximize your child’s health and potential. CMCH is here to help. Read on to find answers to your media questions, and then check out our media literacy lesson plans, tips, and research. Please share your challenges and ideas with other forward-thinking parents on our Facebook page!


The Tips                                                   


Y O U N G E R   K I D S :  


Look for media that support learning–and that get kids moving! A moderate amount of commercial-free media can help your child with language development and even with physical health. As CMCH VIA Field Coordinator Julie Polvinen explains, Children’s media can be pro-social and encourage physical activity.” Polvinen participated in a one-year fellowship with the Fred Rogers Center to develop an iPhone application that does exactly that. Geared toward pre-school children, Out-A-Bout encourages positive media use, literacy building, parent-child interaction, media creation, outdoor exercise, and free-play. To increase these kinds of benefits for your young child, ask these two basic questions as you preview this and other media tools:

  • Will I stay involved and engaged with my child as she uses this tool? 
  • What does my child take away from using it?  


O L D E R    K I D S:                            


Help kids learn to identify reliable resources. The ability to evaluate information 

accuracy is a key skill, but it can be difficult for kids to separate fact from fiction online. To build her skills, help your child learn to consider these questions:

  • Authority: Who created the site? What qualifications or affiliations exist?
  • Purpose: Why was this site created? Who owns, funds, or advertises on this site?
  • Fairness: Is the information balanced, unbiased, and justifiable? 
  • Timeliness: Is the information current? When was it last updated?  
  • Accuracy: Is information true, error-free, evidence-based, and reviewed by experts? 
  • Clarity: Does the site avoid both generalizations and presenting opinion as fact? 
  • Verifiability: Do other sources confirm the author’s credentials, facts, and claims?  
  • Relevance: Does the content relate to the issue at hand in a significant way?

Your child will encounter unreliable sites, but with your ongoing guidance, he will be able to determine whether information can add value to his research reports, important health questions, and every-day decisions.


> Paper: Credibility to Information Quality


The Q & A               

Drawing on his experience as a parent, pediatrician, professor, and filmmaker, Dr. Michael Rich answers parents’ questions about media and child health. Encouraging families to enjoy their media and use them wisely, Dr. Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions through this free service: 
Ask the Mediatrician┬«  
Search by stage: preschool,  school age,  tween,  teen



“…there’s no reason your child has to watch TV. Even if she isn’t watching TV at home, commercials will eventually start making their way into her consciousness…”  > Read more 



How can I limit my teen’s Internet time without distracting him from homework or invading his privacy? 

“...the average American child (8-18) spends 1 hour 29 minutes on the computer per day, which typically includes 22 minutes of social networking, 17 minutes of playing games, and 16 minutes on homework. Developmentally he is no more ready to… ”  Read more 



The Research

Search the CMCH Database of Research (DoR) to learn more about children, media, and health.  

  • Survey finds that 89% of children, ages 11 to 18, believe that “some” to “a lot” of Internet information is believable (more credible than books for papers or projects).       See this study
  • Students attempting to perform homework tasks while the TV was on performed more poorly on the assignments than students without the TV on. However, having music videos or the radio on in the background did not affect how well they did.  > See this study