Monday, January 12, 2009

Study: Exposure to Media Damages Children's Long-Term Health

Common Sense Media published a study on December 2 performed by researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and California Pacific Medical Center about the impact of media on children's health. The report, "Media and Child and Adolescent Health: A Systematic Review," looked at the best studies on media and health from the last 30 years and found that 80 percent of them showed that greater media exposure led to negative health effects in children and adolescents.

"This review is the first ever comprehensive evaluation of the many ways that media impacts children's physical health," said Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., National Institutes of Health and lead researcher on the study. "The results clearly show that there is a strong correlation between media exposure and long-term negative health effects to children. This study provides an important jumping-off point for future research that should explore both the effects of traditional media content and that of digital media -- such as video games, the Internet, and cell phones -- which kids are using today with more frequency."

The meta-analysis looked at 173 studies that examined media exposure's connection to seven different health outcomes, including tobacco use, sexual behavior, obesity, ADHD, academic performance, and drug/alcohol use. The strongest relationship was found between media and obesity. Of the 73 studies that examined the relationship between screen time and childhood obesity, 86 percent revealed a strong relationship between increased screen time and obesity.

You can read a summary of the report here.

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