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Thursday, May 31st, 2012
The amount of time children spend in front of television screens, their self-esteem is affected…unless the child is a white male. These are the findings of a new study published in the journal Communication Research by Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, and Kristen Harrison, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan.
Martins and Harrison surveyed 400 pre-adolescent children of different races in the Midwest over the period of a year. From a release announcing their findings:
“Regardless of what show you’re watching, if you’re a white male, things in life are pretty good for you,” Martins said of characters on TV. “You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.
“If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles,” she added. “The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.
“This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls.”
With regard to black boys, they are often criminalized in many programs, shown as hoodlums and buffoons, and without much variety in the kinds of roles they occupy.
“Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to,” Martins said. “If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.
“If we think just about the sheer amount of time they’re spending, and not the messages, these kids are spending so much time with the media that they’re not given a chance to explore other things they’re good at, that could boost their self-esteem.”
Martins said their study counters claims by producers that programs have been progressive in their depictions of under-represented populations. An earlier study co-authored by her and Harrison suggests that video games “are the worst offenders when it comes to representation of ethnicity and gender.”
Image: Boy watching television, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, May 21st, 2012
A new study of 5th-10th grade students has found that watching television is a predictor not only of poor eating habits while the TV is on, but also in general. The New York Times reports:
Researchers asked the children how much TV they watched; how often they snacked while watching; how often they ate fruits, vegetables and candy and drank soda; and how often they skipped breakfast.
The survey uncovered a variety of differences by sex, age and race — for example, girls watched slightly less than boys, older children ate fast food more often, and white children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables daily.
But over all, after controlling for other factors, viewing time among the children was associated with lower odds of eating fruits and vegetables daily and higher odds of skipping breakfast, consuming candy and sugar-sweetened soda, and eating in fast-food restaurants.
Adjusting for snacking while watching TV did not change the associations, leading the researchers to suggest that broadcast advertising influences eating choices even when children are away from the television.
“There is something parents can do,” said Dr. Ronald J. Iannotti, an author of the study. “Limit TV time, and make sure healthy snacks, particularly fruits, are available.” The study appeared in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Image: Girl snacking and watching TV, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, February 13th, 2012
The Chicago Tribune reports that a two-year-old girl is in serious condition after being injured by a falling television and dresser last week. She is the fifth child in the Chicago area to be struck by a falling television since October.
The toddler was trying to climb up the dresser when the television fell on her, police reports said. The child’s mother was in another room with her son when she heard a crash. The child was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, and her condition was upgraded from critical to serious over the weekend.
But in the four other cases in the Chicago area, all four children died of their injuries. There’s been a wave of similar accidents nationwide: Hospitals saw 40 percent increase in the number of children treated at emergency rooms for “furniture tip-over” injuries from 1990 to 2007, said Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, in a previous Tribune article.
From the Tribune:
Televisions account for nearly half of those cases, and young children are the most common victims, Smith said. Nine out of 10 children killed in tip-over accidents from 2000 to 2010 were 5 or younger, according to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“They are actually, unfortunately, common. There is a real need to do something about this,” Smith said.
There appears to be no clear reason for the rise in injuries, Smith said, though it is theorized that more children are being injured by televisions because people tend to put flat-screen televisions in places that are easier for children to reach.
To keep chidren safe, Smith recommends securing all heavy furniture, including televisions and dressers, to walls with attachments such as straps and anchors.
Click here for more from Parents.com on keeping your toddler safe at home.
Image: TV on dresser via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
A new study by a San Francisco non-profit organization has found that kids are spending more time than ever in front of television, tablet, computer, and smartphone screens. This is despite longstanding advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that screen time be severely limited, if not avoided, before age 2.
Common Sense Media, the organization that conducted the survey of more than 1,300 parents, found that half of all children under age 8 had access to a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile media device. About half of kids under age 2 watch some television or DVDs every day, and those who do spend an average of 2 hours in front of the screen. And almost one-third of kids under 2 have televisions in their bedrooms, which is something the AAP specifically recommends against.
“It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their 1 ½-year-old kid as a shut-up toy. And parents who check their e-mail three times on the way to the bus stop are constantly modeling that behavior, so it’s only natural the kids want to use mobile devices too,” James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, told The New York Times.
The study found significant differences across socioeconomic lines, with more children (64 percent) under 8 having televisions in their rooms if their family income is under $30,000. Twenty percent of kids that age have televisions in their rooms in families with incomes above $75,000.
The study also noted that only 14 percent of respondents said their pediatricians had discussed media use with them.
(image via: http://blog.smarthide.com)
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Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Television and other media exposure has no educational or developmental benefits for children under age 2, and in fact it has been associated with negative health issues including obesity, poor attention, and sleep issues. These are the main findings of a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), released this week at the group’s annual meeting in Boston.
The AAP had recommended in 1999 that parents all but ban television exposure for their babies. This report is meant to clarify and update that recommendation, urging parents to minimize media exposure because, among other reason, time spent in front of the screen is time not spent doing educational, family, or imaginative activities that babies need to develop.
Among the specific recommendations from the AAP:
- Do not place a television in your child’s bedroom.
- Refrain from watching adult-oriented television while young children are in the room. This has been shown to distract parents, even if the program is “background noise” to the child.
- If a young child is watching television, parents should monitor the programming and watch with the child whenever possible.
The recommendations also urge pediatricians to discuss media use, and encourage “media limits” before age 2, at well visits.
(image via: http://babyshrink.com/)
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