Should I correct Thanksgiving stereotypes my kids see on TV?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My school-age kids have seen TV shows and movies that show inaccurate stereotypes of the first Thanksgiving—grateful Pilgrims and wild “Indians” and lots of peace and harmony. Is it my place to correct them?
A: If what your kids are learning isn’t in line with your understanding of the actual story of Thanksgiving, start a discussion about what they’ve heard, and consider guiding them through these concepts that add nuance and accuracy to their understanding.
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

My well-rounded teen wants to play violent, multiplayer games. Should I let him?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My 13-year-old likes to play the Call of Duty games, and claims it’s not too violent, bloody, or intense for him—he just thinks it’s fun. Should I let him keep playing it?
A: The answer to your question depends on what you’re concerned about. Given that your son is actively engaged in other activities, it sounds like you’re not worried that it might be getting in the way of other things in his life, so I suspect that your concern is about his exposure to and engagement with the game’s violence.

Further thoughts on “Is my son addicted to Wikipedia?”

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Recently, I answered a question from a mother who wanted to know whether she should be concerned that her teen son was spending several hours a day on Wikipedia. When the answer was featured on Ask the Mediatrician and discussed on the Center on Media and Child Health Facebook page, several readers challenged whether this boy’s intense interest in Wikipedia or excessive internet time was really that bad compared to other things he could be doing. I agreed with many of these comments and realized that I had not made my thoughts totally clear.

Is my son addicted to Wikipedia?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My 16 year-old spends several hours a day on Wikipedia, reading and editing entries. I’ve searched for scientific papers specifically on Wikipedia habits, but all I find are articles on internet addiction. Should I be concerned? What can I do?
A: A: First of all, your web searches may have been pointing you to the right articles: Even if it seems like an inappropriate term to categorize your son’s behavior, internet addiction refers to unhealthy patterns of internet use…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

Is it OK to watch the “It Gets Better” videos with kids?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: The It Gets Better videos are so powerful, but would my child be too young to understand them and just get upset?
A: The It Gets Better series is very good and should be commended for what it is: A well-intentioned initiative by adults about an important matter that needs to be addressed in a very public forum. The issue here, though, is that the brain development of child viewers is not yet as complete as that of the grown-ups producing these videos.
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician

How can I address racial jokes on TV?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

A: As you demonstrate you already know, humor around racism, sexism, discrimination or hate in any form tends to be very mature, and usually dark and painful…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

Is my daughter’s Halloween costume too sexy?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

A: It’s likely you’ll get “But it’s just a book, Mom. She’s just a character.” You can respond by talking with her seriously: What is it about this costume that she likes? Does she realize how people will respond to her in it…
Answered by Dr Michael Rich, The Mediatrician

How can I keep my teen from texting while driving?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

A: Research shows that using a phone while behind the wheel increases a driver’s risk of getting into an accident by four times (that’s about the same risk as driving drunk) and that drivers who text can be up to 23 times more likely to crash…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

My son’s school assignment is to watch the news, but I don’t usually let him; what do I do?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My son’s homework was to think about the news he watches and relate it to something in his history book, but I don’t let him watch the news. What should we do?
A: You are right to be concerned about your kids’ exposure to TV news. Because a more tabloid approach tends to bring higher ratings, TV news stations often cover the most outrageous…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®

Is sexting a sign of early sexual activity?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: I thought I had a handle on my 15 year old’s texting habits, but I recently found some sexually explicit texts between him and a 12 year-old friend. Are my son and his friend more likely to jump into sexual activity, since they have been so daring in their texts?
A: A report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy shows that 40% of all teen boys report having sent a sexually suggestive text, so your son and you are part of a growing proportion of families…
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®