The Good News about Children and Media in 2010

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: It seems like all we ever hear about are the negative effects of media. What research has been done on using media in positive ways?
A: Indeed, studies in the past year indicate just how positive media can be for children and families when it is used in a controlled way, paying particular attention to its content and the context in which it is used.

Should kids with central auditory processing disorder play video games?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: We believe that we need to have our child tested for central auditory processing disorder. Is there any correlation between this condition and video game playing?
A: Though extraneous noises are distracting for kids with APD, video games may actually help them focus. But it’s your job to set limits on the amount of game play.

Are Facebook age limits appropriate? And when should schools intervene?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: My son’s private middle school decided to insist on a no-FB policy. Is that reasonable, given the students ages (10 and 11)?
A: Whether the school handled the situation appropriately is a more subjective issue, but whether 10 and 11 year olds should be on Facebook gets a definitive no because of their current stage of brain development.

Video Games: How much time is too much?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: Is 15-20 hours per week too much time spent on video games–even if my son gets all A’s, and is involved with lots of other activities? Is gaming a good use of his downtime?
A: There is no magic number of appropriate gaming hours: The key is to ensure that gaming doesn’t get in the way of the other important activities of life—like homework, family meals, and sleep.

How can I tactfully ask our family not to give my kids character toys?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: I don’t want to seem ungrateful, and I know my children would probably like the Dora or Batman version of toys, but I just find that sort of commercialism unnecessary. How can I tell my family that we’d prefer they not get the character versions of toys when giving my kids gifts?
A: Let your family know how important it is to you that your child make up her own stories during plattime instead of having her playtime scripted by pre-digested plotlines.

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®

Why should my family participate in Turnoff Week?

Posted under Ask the Mediatrician.

Q: Why should my family participate in Turnoff Week?
A: TV, video games, and computers have become so common that, for many families, they are a default activity, rather than a choice they make about how they want to spend their time. It is not just cramming facts into children’s brains, but giving them the unstructured “down time” to process those facts and come to their own conclusions, that will give them the richest environment in which to develop.
Answered by Dr. Michael Rich, The Mediatrician®