Carnal Knowledge — Hazardous for Kids?

by Faye Flamm | Philadelphia Inquirer | August 27, 2006

Faye Flamm, author of the popular column “Carnal Knowledge” (a sex-themed column about the natural world and humanity’s place in it),
set out to find whether scientific research had anything to say about sexual information hurting children. Here’s what Dr. David Bickham
, Staff Scientist at CMCH, had to say on the topic:

“A recent study showed a strong correlation between teen sex and the degradation of women in popular music.
‘It goes along with the idea that it’s really about the context,’ said Bickham, who works out of the
Center for Media and Child Health, run by Harvard and Children’s Hospital Boston. But lyrics about
sex per se didn’t have the same effect. ‘If you tell kids sex exists, they’re not going to run out and have sex,’ he said.”
Read the full article at Philadelphia Inquirer.

Misogyny – Set to Music – May Alter Teen Behavior

by Amanda Paulson | Christian Science Monitor | August 8, 2006

A study in the August issue of Pediatrics has shown that the more teens listen to music with sexually degrading lyrics, the more likely they are to have sex earlier.

“This uses a more precise methodology than previous studies have, particularly around the issue of content,”
says Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH. “We as a society have lulled ourselves into thinking that if it’s entertainment it doesn’t affect us. There’s this artificial dichotomy we’ve drawn between education and entertainment – education is at school, and then
kids turn their brains off when they go home and listen to misogynistic lyrics.”

» See Full Story
Read the full article at Christian Science Monitor.

Sexy Songs

by Channel 7 News, Boston | WHDH-TV Boston | August 7, 2006

A study in the August issue of Pediatrics has shown that teens who listen to sexually explicit lyrics are more likely to start having sex earlier than teens who don’t listen to this kind of music.

“Study after study have shown young people learn from the media they use, they learn violence from the media they use, they learn substance abuse from the media they use, and they are going to learn sexual behavior from the media they use,” says Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH.

» See Video
Read the full article at WHDH-TV Boston.

A Steady Media Diet: Gulp

by Laura Beil | The Dallas Morning News | June 21, 2006

“Children now devour so much media that, for many, screens and earbuds have become as influential as parents and teachers. Some experts have even given these kids a name: Generation M.”

Director of CMCH, Dr. Michael Rich
, says “The approach we take is not that TV is bad, but that it is a very powerful tool that we have to use thoughtfully and safely.”
» See Full Story
Read the full article at The Dallas Morning News.

Our Star-Struck Kids

by Thomson Dialog NewsEdge | TMC Net | June 18, 2006

“TV. Radio. Internet. They bombard our children with the latest news and gossip on their favorite celebrities. Experts question whether that’s healthy.

Kids are estimated to get more than six hours of media exposure every day, according to
Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH. Where ‘The Partridge Family’ was on once a week, ‘That’s So Raven routinely airs up to seven times per day.”

Some tips for parents on media use:

  1. Reduce Media Exposure: Let your child help choose which shows to watch within a viewing “budget.” In this way, kids learn to make active, informed media choices instead of just “seeing whatever is on.”
  2. Co-Viewing: Watch what your kids are watching, visit the Web sites they’re visiting. This allows for conversation about controversial topics and provides a chance for adults to help children understand and synthesize what they have seen in the context of a parent’s perspective.
  3. Remove media from kids’ bedrooms: Research has shown that children who have television, video games or computers in their rooms get less sleep, read less and are more overweight.
  4. Recognize that your media use influences your children: Kids learn media use patterns from their parents, so use what you want them to use.
  5. Instill critical viewing skills: Help your kids learn to question the media they use – who created it and what are they trying to sell or get across?
  6. Encourage media production: Encourage your kids to use their imagination to invent plays, make collages from advertising or magazine images, take photographs or make videos to create the kinds of messages they would broadcast if they were in charge of the media.

» See Full Story

Read the full article at TMC Net.

Body Image Presentation for Local School

by Editor | Weston Town Crier | June 15, 2006

“The Weston Middle School (MA) held its annual sixth-grade Health and Communications Forum at Regis College on June 5. This family-based, full day program is designed to foster communication between students, parents and teachers about a spectrum of health-related issues.”

Julia Szymczak
, a research assistant with Video Intervention/Prevention Assessment gave a presentation titled “Mastering Media Messages: Healthy Bodies, Positive Minds.”
Read the full article at Weston Town Crier.

Internet Safety

by Kathleen Dunn | National Public Radio - Wisconsin | May 22, 2006

Kathleen Dunn of Wisconcsin Public Radio spoke with Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH, about children’s internet access and internet safety.

Kathleen Dunn: “Tell me more about this”

Dr. Rich: “The vast majority of teens use it like a yearbook page, from posting poetry they’ve written to posting pictures of their pets and their friends.”

“Children are very sophisticated electronically, in most cases, more sophisticated than their parents. They are reaching
out for someone who understands them, and that’s what the explosive growth of MySpace indicates.”

Below, you can download the audio file of this segment on internet safety. Dr. Rich joins the conversation at minute 26:25 of this segment.

» Download Real Player Audio File
Read the full article at National Public Radio - Wisconsin.

The News for Multimedia Babies is Good, and Bad

by Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press | USA Today | May 16, 2006

“They’re bombarded with electronics starting in infancy, from the new Sesame Street for
six-month-olds to game-playing laptops for toddlers. But when does being a multimedia youngster help — and when does it hurt — children’s malleable brains?”

This week, the National Institutes of Health gathered experts together to discuss what research is most needed, and what guidelines should be established for parenting in the media age. Two CMCH scientists were invited to speak on
these issues: Dr. Michael Rich
, Director of CMCH, and Dr. David Bickham
, Staff Scientist.

Dr. Bickham pointed out, “Parents in general don’t view electronic media as bad. In fact, they often ask if their babies will miss out if
they don’t sit them in front of the computer early.”

» See Full Story
Read the full article at USA Today.

The Littlest Viewers

by Peggy O'Crawley | The New Jersey Star-Ledger | May 15, 2006

“A rainbow-hued pony gallops onto the television screen, turning black-and-white images into colorful ducks and donkeys.
Two cute squirrels play ‘Hot and Cold’ as they search for acorns. A sculptor’s hand turns sand into shapes as soothing classical
music plays in the background.

Are these images designed to help babies and toddlers learn colors and abstract concepts, and relax them at bedtime? Or are they interfering with babies’ interactions with real people and places?

Director of CMCH, Dr. Michael Rich
, said he was concerned parents believe the programs boost brain development, one of the main selling points of the Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos that are aimed at the same young viewers…

‘The human brain triples in volume in the first two years of life. It develops in the context of the environment it functions in,'” Rich stated.
Read the full article at The New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Doctors Riled by Launch of TV channel for Babies

by CBC Arts | Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | May 12, 2006

“The first TV channel designed for babies debuted in the United States on Thursday, immediately
drawing criticism from pediatricians who say young children shouldn’t be watching TV at all.

Director of CMCH, Dr. Michael Rich
, who studies the impact of the media on children’s health, says it ‘defies reason’ to suggest that television could help parents and babies interact.

‘Television primarily is a medium that demands attention to the TV, not to other people in the room,’ he said in an interview with CBC Television.

Babies’ brains cannot decode the two-dimensional image on a television screen,
Rich said. Their brains are developing and they need a different kind of stimulation to help them grow, he added.

‘They need interaction with other human beings and to manipulate their environment. They need to pick up the block or try to get the Cheerios into their mouths,’ he said.

» See Full Story
Read the full article at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.