Kids health and new media dangers

December 21, 2008

We have touched on this before but with the average child now spending 7 hours a day on various forms of media it bears looking at again. Most Christmas lists will have at least one or two electronic ‘toys’ on them, plus the ones already in the home. New research from the National Institutes of Health, Yale University and California Pacific Medical Center in the USA has yet again emphasised the problems between high media consumption and children’s health problems.

This is not the usual concerns about too much violence, though they have their place, this is specifically focused on the effects on childrens health and the ‘new media’ area has not so far been put under the spotlight. Just what is ‘new media’? Well it encompasses everything from the internet to mobile phones, texting, video games, and social networking sites like YouTube and Twitter. Many youngsters organise their whole social lives on YouTube and one local family near me had their home trashed when their teenage daughter posted her birthday invitations on the site and got 100 gatecrashers instead.

The researchers found that the greater the exposure to the internet, TV, movies, music and technology a child has then they have correspondingly higher health risks. So what are they risking? Primarily obesity but they also are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs – three other key health risks. There is of course a follow on effect and they are also likely to be poor performers at school as well. What’s the cure? Well, back to the family – limit the amount of time spent on this media at home. You can have little impact outside it so it’s important to have home boundaries and don’t add to the electronic stockpile this Christmas – don’t buy them an Xbox, think outside it.


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