Non-verbal cues on TV promote racial bias
WASHINGTON - Subtle patterns of non-verbal behaviour on
popular TV shows promote racial bias
among viewers, according to a new study.
“Today, racial bias is often revealed via more subtle means than outright
racial slurs,” said study author Max Weisbuch, postdoctoral fellow in
psychology at the Tufts University
Stronger link seen between music and marijuana use
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 22 –
Teens who frequently listen to music that contains references to marijuana
are more likely to use the drug than their counterparts with less exposure
to such lyrics, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
online now in the journal Addiction.
Even Indirect TV Time May Increase Kids' Aggression
The more TV a young child watches -- and the more time mom and
dad spend in front of the tube -- the more aggressive the youngster may be,
researchers say. Among three-year-olds, both direct TV watching and household TV
viewing were significantly associated with childhood aggression.
"Early childhood aggression can be problematic for parents, teachers and
childhood peers and sometimes is predictive of
more serious behavior problems to
come, such as juvenile delinquency, adulthood violence and criminal behavior,"
according to background
information in the article. (Source:
Texting Affects Quality of Sleep
A recent study revealed that text messages on mobile phones are making an
impact on the quality of sleep for
almost 50% of the 16 year olds surveyed. (Source)
A 2009 Nielsen study on teens and media found a 566 percent jump
in teen texting rates during the past two years. The average teen sent 435 texts
a month in early 2007. Now it's 2,899 per month
— 97 a day. (Source)
Videogame Age & Effects Study
The average age of an adult video game player is 35 - higher than previously
thought, a US study suggests.
A team from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
also found gamers were less healthy, fatter, and more
depressed than non-gamers. (Source)
Boosts Kids' Blood Pressure
Too Much TV, Computer Use May
Elevate Blood Pressure in Young
Aug. 4, 2009 -- Too much “screen
time,” whether it's watching TV,
using a computer, or playing a video
may raise the
blood pressure of young
children, a new study shows.
'Teen Texting Tendonitis' the Latest Health
Car-surfing injuries linked to video
July 21, 2009
A group of neurosurgeons analyzing the dangerous teen activity known as
car surfing has concluded that
its popularity corresponds with the release of the Grand Theft Auto
video game series and YouTube clips
glorifying the activity. (Source
MTV Survey Warns of Loud Music's Impact on Hearing
TV Ads Trigger Mindless Eating ( July 1, 2009)
WEDNESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay
News) -- Watching food ads on TV leads to a boost in snacking
among children and adults, increasing the risk of weight gain,
U.S. researchers say.
Yale University researchers conducted a
series of experiments to test the effects of food commercials on
television. One test found that children aged 7 to 11 who
watched a half-hour cartoon that included food commercials ate
45 percent more snack food while watching the show than children
who watched the same cartoon with non-food commercials.
That increased amount of snacking would lead to a weight gain
of nearly 10 pounds a year, unless it was countered by decreased
intake of other foods or increased physical activity, the
In another experiment, adults who saw TV ads for unhealthy
foods ate much more than those who saw ads that featured
messages about good nutrition or healthy food.
"This research shows a direct and powerful link between
television food advertising and calories consumed by adults and
children," lead author Jennifer Harris, director of marketing
initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at
Yale, said in a
release from the university.
"Food advertising triggers automatic eating, regardless of
hunger, and is a significant contributor to the obesity
epidemic. Reducing unhealthy food advertising to children is
critical," she said.
study appears in the July issue of the journal Health
Can Gaming Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly?
Findings released June 15 from a brand new study by CNN International
suggest that brands who choose multimedia campaigns to communicate their
advertising messages are more memorable to consumers and are more likely
to enhance perception of their brands. The results carry weight for
brands that place their advertising in an engaging environment,
prompting an emotional response from the audience.
The CASE study (Cross-platform Advertising
Study on Effectiveness and Engagement) consisted of a rigorous two stage
approach. Stage one involved a multinational online study of
cross-platform effectiveness in which consumers were exposed to diverse
media experiences. Stage two measured attention and engagement through a
variety of techniques including biometrics, eye tracking and in depth
"We wanted to show that by
complementing advertising on CNN TV with ads on CNN.com and CNN mobile,
an advertiser can markedly increase campaign recall leading to positive
shifts in brand attitudes', commented Duncan Morris, Vice President,
Research, Turner International Asia Pacific. "The fact that these
respondents were not primed for an advertising study makes these results
even more poignant."
Engagement and Biometrics
Body responses such as heart rate,
motion, respiratory rate and galvanic skin response (sweating) were
translated into measures of "attention" and "engagement" - the Holy
Grail for advertisers. These were collected by using a lightweight
'smart vest' which respondents wore while watching CNN programming and
The biometric research proved that CNN
television and online content prompted an emotional response from the
audience. Perhaps contrary to popular belief that viewers disengage once
scheduled programming ends, the results also showed that engagement
actually can increase during ad breaks, as much as 10%.
William Hsu, VP Advertising Sales Asia
Pacific, CNN International added "In the current economic climate, CNN
is committed to demonstrating ROI for every advertising dollar spent.
This study shows it is content that provides the springboard for
advertisers to secure meaningful connections with audiences. In
conjunction with our recent PWC study, it provides valuable industry
insight to help brands market smarter."
‘Getting your ad noticed'
The level of attention an advertisement
receives impacts the ability of respondents to remember the brand. When
respondents viewed advertising online and on mobile, they were more
attentive, increasing the likelihood of advertising being noticed and
adding to the re-call of the overall campaign.
For example, using the eye-tracking
technology which measures the time viewers spend gazing at points on a
web or mobile page, users eyes were on the video window on the CNN
website for 66-80% of the time that the video story was playing. Video
attention is higher still during the pre-roll ad. In fact, on average,
the users' eyes are on the pre-roll ad for 77-87% of its duration.
The research showed that despite the
high cross-over between the audiences of all the CNN properties, the
audience is in a different state of mind when online or using a mobile
phone versus watching television. Generally audiences were more
attentive (though not necessarily more engaged) when online or mobile
than when watching television.
For example, one in five consumers who
were exposed to TV advertising for a well known bank were spontaneously
able to re-call the brand advertised, however when online and mobile
advertising were added, this figure rose to one in three.
With video viewing online and
television viewing both prompting a strong emotional response from
respondents, by combining TV advertising with online advertising, brands
are surely onto a winning formula.
Glowing TV Screens Keeping
Americans Up at Night (HealthDayNews, 6/8/09)
Many generations ago,
a dark night sky and fatigue probably signaled it
was time to go to sleep.
Stewart and the Desperate Housewives
are more influential in determining
bedtimes -- and it may be contributing to many
sleep deprivation, a new study says.
In the study,
researchers looked at data about the sleep habits
and bedtime rituals of 21,475
participants aged 15 or older who completed the
American Time Use
Survey between 2003 and 2006.
In the two hours
around bedtime, TV viewing was the most common
activity, accounting for almost
50 percent of the activities undertaken in the time
before bed, according to the study to be presented
Monday at the Associated Professional Sleep
Societies annual meeting, in Seattle.
The finding means
that TV -- rather than hours past sunset or
biological signs -- has become the most
important signal for sleep.
And staying up to
catch the end of a favorite show may make people
stay up later than they otherwise
would. In the morning, their
alarm clocks may jar them awake earlier than
they would naturally awaken.
These facets of
modern life are potentially reducing sleep time
below what is physiologically required,
the researchers noted in a
news release from the
of Sleep Medicine.
relationship of short sleep duration to health
risks, there is concern that many Americans are
chronically under-sleeping due to lifestyle
choices," study co-author David Dinges, of the
Pennsylvania School of Medicine in
Philadelphia, said in the news release.
watch less late-night TV and go to work later in the
morning, the researchers suggested.
"While the timing
of work may not be flexible, giving up some TV
viewing in the evening should be possible
to promote adequate sleep," said study co-author Dr.
Getting less than
seven to eight hours of sleep daily can lead to
impaired alertness and has been linked to
higher rates of obesity, illness and death. Even so,
up to 40 percent of Americans are not getting the
recommended amount of sleep at night, according to
the news release.
Too Much Media May Be Tough on Kids' Health/
Expert warns parents to limit access to computers, TV and more
TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Easy
access to a wide variety of media increases a child's risk for
health issues, such as obesity, eating disorders, drug use and early sexual
activity, according to a U.S. expert.
On average, American children and teens
spend more than six hours a day with media such as TV, computers,
video games and VCR or DVD players -- more time than they spend per day
receiving formal classroom
instruction, says Dr. Victor C. Strasburger of
the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque.
All this media access affects a variety of
health issues, he wrote in the
issue of the Journal of the American
Medical Association, a
special theme issue on child and adolescent health.
"The media are not the leading cause of any
pediatric health problem in the United States, but they do make a
substantial contribution to many health problems," Strasburger said. Among
them: violence, sex, drugs, obesity
and eating disorders.
Parents, teachers and clinicians need to be
educated about these connections, and student education about
be mandatory in schools, he recommended.
"Parents have to change the way their
children access the media -- not permitting TV sets or Internet connections
in the child's bedroom, limiting entertainment screen time to less than two
hours per day, and co-viewing with their
children and adolescents. Research
has shown that media effects are magnified significantly when there is a TV
in the child's or adolescent's bedroom," Strasburger wrote.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the
can impair speech development of young children
Originally published June 1,
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
A study released Monday adds to the debate
over whether television impairs children's language development.
The study finds that parents and children virtually stop talking to each
other when the TV is on, even if they're in the same room.
For every hour in front of
the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children, according to a study of 329
ages 2 months to 4 years, in the June issue of
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Adults usually speak about 941 words an hour.
Children vocalized less,
too, says author
Christakis of the
Children's Research Institute.
In some cases, parents may have spoken less because they sat a child in front of
a TV and left the room,
he says. In others, parents simply zoned out themselves while watching TV with a
didn't note the content of the TV shows.
Parents may not realize how
little they interact with children when a TV is on, Christakis says. A mother
may think she's engaged with a baby because they're both on the floor playing
blocks. But if a TV is on in
the background, the two of them talk much less, he says.
That may help explain
earlier studies finding that babies who watch a lot of TV know fewer words,
they catch up to their peers by 16 months, Christakis says. "Babies learn
language from hearing it spoken," he says.
Christakis and his
colleagues fitted children with digital devices that recorded everything they
heard or said
one day a month for an average of six months. A speech-recognition program,
which could differentiate TV
content from human voices, compared the number of words exchanged when
televisions were on or off.
a professor of pediatrics at the University of New
Mexico, describes the latest report as
"an excellent, creative study."
It's the seventh study to
suggest that TV hurts children's language development, Strasburger says. A March
report from Harvard Medical School found that watching TV neither helped nor
harmed children's language skills.
acknowledges that there is still some debate about whether watching television
he says there's no evidence to show that it's helpful. That's why the American
Academy of Pediatrics
recommends no TV for babies under age 2.
"We need to avoid parking
babies in front of screens," Strasburger says. "Parents need to realize they
to be the primary entertainment for their babies. Parents are movie stars when
their kids are babies. It doesn't last long."
Shocking images on cigarette packs can deter smokers
GENEVA (Reuters) – Cigarette packages should show
graphic images of yellow
teeth, blackened gums,
protruding neck tumors and bleeding brains to alert smokers to their disease
risks, the World Health
Organization said on Friday.
Texting May Be Taking A Toll on Teens
The phenomenon is beginning
to worry physicians and psychologists, who say it is leading to anxiety,
distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep
Play Role In Child Obesity
Monday, 11 May 2009, 06:40 CDT
According to a new study released on Friday,
junk food commercials constitute an average
of two-thirds of television
food advertisements shown during hours
children are most likely to be watching.
At the top
of the list were Germany and the United
States, whose junk food commercials made up
some 90 percent of
their televised food ads. At the bottom
were Britain and Australia with roughly 50
say they are urging government action to
curb the amount of television marketing of
this sort in an effort to
combat youth obesity.
“Internationally, children are exposed to
high volumes of unhealthy food and beverage
advertising on television,” the research
group told the
European Congress on Obesity in
this food marketing is an important
preventative strategy for childhood
International Obesity Task Force
estimates that some 177 million children and
teens under the age of 18 are
overweight or obese. Of these, they say,
roughly 22 million are overweight children
under the age of five.
many risks associated with diabetes, one of
the most frequent amongst children is the
rapidly growing rate of type
2 diabetes, or non-inherited diabetes. The
expensive treatments associated with
diabetes have many governments concerned
that their already tightly-budgeted national
health systems could be stretched beyond
increase in sedentary lifestyles, including
hours a day sitting in front of computers or
television, has also been identified
as a joint factor contributing to
skyrocketing obesity rates throughout the
“There is a
lot of attention on unhealthy food marketing
as an influence on childhood obesity and a
lot of governments are
reluctant to regulate,” said Bridget Kelly a
nutrition researcher for the
Council NSW in Australia and co-author
of the study.
“So most countries in the study don’t have
regulations on food advertising.”
examined television programming trends in
Australia, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe
and North and South America.
They observed that the number of
advertisements for fast food, sweets and
high-fat snacks significantly increased
during the times
when youths were most likely to be tuned in.
see around 4,000 to 6,000 food
advertisements on television a year and
between 2,000 and 4,000 are for unhealthy
explained Kelley in an interview. “So even
if you are in countries that are advertising
less to children, that is still a lot.”
concede, however, that it is difficult to
establish a direct causal connection between
junk food advertisements and obesity.
Still, they argue that television marketing
is a significant factor in shaping what kind
of foods children prefer.
Girls With Sexy Avatars Face Greater Risks Online
Do you know what your daughter’s online
avatar looks like? If it’s sexually provocative—more Bratz than American
Girl doll—it’s time for a chat. “I’m amazed at the grotesqueness of some of
these avatars,” says Jennie Noll, a developmental psychologist and associate
professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s
Center who asked 173 teenage girls ages 14 to 17 to make avatars, then rated
their provocativeness—skimpy clothing, body piercings, exaggerated curves.
Girls who created provocative avatars were more likely to get sexual
come-ons online, not surprisingly, and also more apt to agree to an
in-person encounter with someone they met online. Noll's study is published
in the current issue of Pediatrics. The girls who chose provocative
avatars were also more likely to be preoccupied with sex—and, Noll
speculates, they might be more likely to try on the role.
use avatars as an early warning system, Noll says. “Parents should be
interested and aware of how their children are presenting themselves
online,” she says, and prepared to talk with them about "the implications of
presenting themselves as a sexual being online.” The next step: Run through
scenarios about what could happen if someone wanted to meet up in real life,
and role-play how to fend off a come-on that could lead to more than they’re
able to handle. Not all offline encounters end in sexual abuse or
exploitation, of course. But Noll, who studies the effects of child sexual
abuse, cautions that the potential is there.
Avatars also give us parents a doorway to
discussing online profiles and the fact that what might seem cool to a
14-year-old will seem decidedly uncool to college admissions officers,
employers, and her boyfriend’s parents. “It’s the first snapshot people get
of you,” Noll says. “Younger adolescents don’t get this, because [social
networking] is so much a part of their everyday life.”
For more on the big and troubling issue on how popular culture
oversexualizes childhood, check out So Sexy So Soon, a book by Diane Levin
and Jean Kilbourne that came out last year. A parent's best defense, Levin
and Kilbourne say, is to talk to your kids early and often about what you
don’t like about sexual images in pop culture,
while also giving them a chance to tell you what they like, and why. (Here’s
interview with Levin about So Sexy So Soon,
along with my distillation of her
advice for parents.) Study after study
shows that the best predictor of a child safely
navigating the risks of the teenage years is having involved
parents—something that Noll found in her study, too. Here's more on
how parents can manage kids’ use of social media,
particularly networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
So, kid, put a sweater on that avatar!
Media Images of Alcohol Can Drive
You to Drink
Scenes in films,
TV commercials have measurable impact, study finds
March 4, 2009
By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter (NOTE:
links embedded in this story added by Frank Baker)
WEDNESDAY, March 4 (HealthDay
News) -- Young men who watched the movie American Pie
with accompanying commercials for alcohol were more apt to grab
a beer or glass of wine from the refrigerator, compared to those
who watched a movie without the drinking prompts.
This study shows for the first
time the effect of on-screen depictions of alcohol and their
influence on consumers' behavior, said the researchers, who are
from Canada and the Netherlands.
"It's one of those things the
majority of people have assumed to be the case, but it's nice to
have the empirical evidence," said Jeffrey T. Parsons, chair of
psychology at Hunter College in New York City. Parsons was not
involved with the study, which was published online March 4 in
Alcohol and Alcoholism. (Full study available
But, Parsons added, the study
"It was done just with young
men, and there are a lot of differences in the role of gender
and alcohol," he said. "It's also a Dutch study that used
American movies. Part of me wonders if it's just bad American
movies that make people drink."
The study is unlikely to be the
last word on the subject, Parsons added.
The new research isn't the only
new troubling data coming out on alcohol and alcohol abuse.
On Tuesday, a report in the
March issue of the
said that an estimated 11 percent to 20 percent of U.S. teens
have T-shirts, headwear, jewelry, key chains and other
paraphernalia emblazoned with brands of alcoholic beverages.
These children seem to be more prone to end up being binge
drinkers, the Dartmouth researchers noted.
For the new study, 40 pairs of
unsuspecting men aged 18 to 29 were invited into a lab that
doubled as a "home cinema," complete with fridge (stocked with
both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks), a leather couch,
large-screen TV, nibbles and an ashtray.
The men, who were given the
option of a free taxi home if they drank three or more bottles
of beer or wine, were randomly assigned to watch American Pie
with and without alcohol ads, or characters consuming alcohol,
or 40 Days and 40 Nights, again with and without the
Those who watched the segments
that included alcohol drank an average of three 200-milligram
bottles of alcohol. Those watching the "neutral" segments drank
half that amount.
The findings, which need to be
confirmed in other groups of people and in larger studies, may
argue for a sort of "rating" system regarding alcohol in movies,
the authors stated.
Kathryn J. Kotrla, chairwoman of
and behavioral science at the Texas A&M Health Science Center
College of Medicine, said the new study was "reminiscent of the
imaging studies, for example, looking at
"It would be fascinating to
follow the study up with neuroimaging studies with alcoholics
... to see if the same reward pathways are triggered in the
brain," she said. "Why that's so important is that it bypasses
the debate, is alcoholism a failure of will or a disease? It
puts [the debate] smack dab in the neuroscience arena, which, in
fact, is where it needs to be."
Too much TV linked to higher asthma
LONDON (Reuters) – Children who watch
television for more than two hours a day have twice the risk of
developing asthma, British researchers reported Tuesday.
Asthma affects more than 300 million
people worldwide and is the most
chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing,
shortness of breath,
coughing and chest
A study published in the
journal Thorax may help link
asthma, estimated to account for one in 250 deaths globally each year,
to obesity and lack of
exercise, experts said.
"There has been a recent suggestion
that breathing patterns associated with sedentary behavior could lead to
developmental changes in the lungs and wheezing illnesses in children,"
Andrea Sherriff of the
University of Glasgow and colleagues wrote.
Sherriff and colleagues studied more
than 3,000 children from birth until nearly the age of 12.
The parents were questioned annually on
wheezing symptoms among their children and whether a doctor had
diagnosed asthma as they grew up. The researchers also analyzed how much
television the children watched.
They did not consider video games or
personal computers, which were not as common in the mid 1990s when the
children were growing up, the researchers added.
The study found that 6 percent of
children at around age 12 who had no symptoms of the disease growing up
But children who watched television for
more than two hours daily were almost twice as likely to have been
diagnosed with the condition as those who watched less.
"The findings add to a wealth of
evidence linking a lack of exercise and being overweight with an
increased risk of asthma," Elaine Vickers of
Asthma UK, who was not involved
in the study, said in a statement.
"But this study is the first to
directly link sedentary behavior at a very young age to a higher risk of
asthma later in childhood."
In some countries as many as 30 percent
of children develop the inflammatory disease, according to the World
(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by
Maggie Fox and Phakamisa Ndzamela)
Study: Internet Addiction May Fuel Teen
February 24, 2009
Teenagers who are preoccupied with their
Internet time may be more prone to aggressive behavior, researchers reported
In a study of more than 9,400 Taiwanese
teenagers, the researchers found that those with signs of Internet "addiction"
were more likely to say they had hit, shoved or threatened someone in the past
The link remained when the investigators
accounted for several other factors — including the teenagers' scores on
measures of self-esteem and depression, as well as their exposure to TV
The findings, published online by the Journal
of Adolescent Health, do not however prove that Internet addiction breeds
violent behavior in children.
It is possible that violence-prone teenagers
are more likely to obsessively use the Internet, explained lead researcher Dr.
Chih-Hung Ko, of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan.
However, the findings add to evidence from
other studies that media — whether TV, movies or video games — can influence
children's behavior. The also suggest that parents should pay close attention to
their teenagers' Internet use, and the potential effects on their real-life
behavior, Ko told Reuters Health.
According to Ko's team, some signs of Internet
addiction include preoccupation with online activities; "withdrawal" symptoms,
like moodiness and irritability, after a few Internet-free days; and skipping
other activities to devote more time to online ones.
In this study, teenagers who fit the addiction
profile generally were more aggression-prone than their peers. But the type of
Internet activity appeared to matter as well.
Online chatting, gambling and gaming, and
spending time in online forums or adult pornography sites were all linked to
aggressive behavior. In contrast, teens who devoted their time to online
research and studying were less likely than their peers to be violence-prone.
According to Ko, certain online activities may
encourage kids to "release their anger" or otherwise be aggressive in ways they
normally would not in the real world. Whether this eventually pushes them to be
more aggressive in real life is not yet clear, the researcher said.
Ko recommended that parents talk to their
children about their Internet use and their general attitudes toward violence.
Journal of Adolescent Health
Association between lyrics with degrading
sex, early sexual experience: Study
TORONTO — High exposure to lyrics that
describe degrading sex is associated with high levels of sexual behaviour in
teens, a new study suggests.
The research, published Tuesday in the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, was conducted in three large urban
high schools in the Pittsburgh area, and involved asking Grade 9 students
about the number of hours a day they listen to music and their favourite
"Music exposure is growing ... there is now
unprecedented access to music and it's also becoming more direct, more
explicit," said co-author
Brian Primack of the
Center for Research on Health Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of
"Adolescents are exposed to six to eight
hours of mass media messages per day, and since it is such an important
exposure, we need to know if this is affecting health."
He noted, for example, that data have shown
that up to 25 per cent of American teenage girls have sexually transmitted
STDs are particularly problematic in poor
communities, Primack said, and that was a reason for focusing on three urban
high schools where about half the kids take part in a lunch program -
indicating they fall below a certain income level.
"We divided the cohort into three ... those
who were exposed to the lowest amount (of music with degrading references),
those who were exposed to sort of the medium amount, those who were exposed
to the most," he said.
"And those who were exposed to the most
were more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse, and that's
even controlling for all of the other factors that we looked at that we
thought might be related to uptake of sexual intercourse."
One limitation of the findings was that the
teenagers were self-reporting.
"We didn't actually have their iPods in our
hands, but what we did was we asked people to report the number of hours
that they listen, both on a weekday and a weekend day," Primack explained.
"It's an approximation because we can't ask
them every single song that they've ever listened to, but the way it is with
young people in this particular demographic, their favourite artist is
generally quite representative of all of the things that they listen to."
Daniel Levitin, a
cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, said the study
"clearly adds to our body of knowledge about the connection between musical
lyrics and ... experiences of young people."
But Levitin, author of the bestselling book
"This is Your Brain on Music,"
said the study wasn't designed in a way that it could tell us about any
causes of the young people's behaviour.
"The important thing to bear in mind is
whatever it is that's causing young people to engage in increasingly risky
sexual activity at a younger age - we don't know whether there's some third
factor out there in the world that's causing them both to engage in that
activity and to seek out this music."
He cautioned against extrapolating the
findings to other centres, noting there might be a number of reasons
Pittsburgh is special.
"They didn't do a study across all of the
United States, let alone across all of North America. It's a possible
limitation of the study. Maybe these results apply only to Pittsburgh, and
you wouldn't find similar associations in Philadelphia or Calgary or Prince
Edward Island, for that matter."
Jane Brown, a
professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the findings corroborate a
couple of previous studies.
"So now we have three studies that have
found a similar relationship, so that helps support the notion that there is
a relationship here, something's going on, something perhaps worth looking
Parents need to pay more attention to this,
and help their teens choose healthier, less degrading music, she advised.
"Secondly, I would like to see the
musicians' community take some responsibility for this," she said.
"And thirdly, we can teach what we call
media literacy, which is to help kids be more critical media users, or more
intelligent media users, so that they know it's not in their best interest
to be modelling sexually degrading images."
Primack agreed with the need for media
"If we give young people the ability to
analyze and evaluate all those messages for themselves, so they can
hopefully understand a little bit more about the fact that these messages
are not necessarily reflecting real life, then they might not be a prone to
simply imitate what they hear."
Study: Violent media numb viewers to the pain
February 19th, 2009 in Medicine & Health /
(PhysOrg.com) -- Violent video games and movies
make people numb to the pain and suffering of others, according to a research
report published in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science.
The report details the findings of two studies
conducted by University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman and Iowa State
University professor Craig Anderson.
The studies fill an important research gap in
the literature on the impact of violent media. In earlier work, Bushman and
Anderson demonstrated that exposure to violent media produces physiological
desensitization—lowering heart rate and skin conductance—when viewing scenes of
actual violence a short time later. But the current research demonstrates that
violent media also affect someone's willingness to offer help to an injured
person, in a field study as well as in a laboratory experiment.
The impact of violent
media. New research shows that playing violent video games and watching violent
moves make people less empathic and sensitive to the suffering of others.
"These studies clearly show that violent media exposure can reduce helping
behavior," said Bushman, professor of psychology and communications and a
research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
"People exposed to media violence are less
helpful to others in need because they are 'comfortably numb' to the pain and
suffering of others, to borrow the title of a Pink Floyd song," he said.
In one of the studies, 320 college students
played either a violent or a nonviolent video game for approximately 20 minutes.
A few minutes later, they overheard a staged fight that ended with the "victim"
sustaining a sprained ankle and groaning in pain.
People who had played a violent game took
significantly longer to help the victim than those who played a nonviolent
game—73 seconds compared to 16 seconds. People who had played a violent game
were also less likely to notice and report the fight. And if they did report it,
they judged it to be less serious than did those who had played a nonviolent
In the second study, the participants were 162
adult moviegoers. The researchers staged a minor emergency outside the theater
in which a young woman with a bandaged ankle and crutches "accidentally" dropped
her crutches and struggled to retrieve them. The researchers timed how long it
took moviegoers to retrieve the crutches. Half were tested before they went into
the theater, to establish the helpfulness of people attending violent vs.
nonviolent movies. Half were tested after seeing either a violent or a
nonviolent movie. Participants who had just watched a violent movie took over 26
percent longer to help than either people going into the theater or people who
had just watched a nonviolent movie.
The studies are part of an on-going research
program into the causes and consequences of human aggression conducted by
Bushman, who is also affiliated with VU University Amsterdam.
Provided by University of Michigan
Media Exposure and Fast Food Consumption
(NaturalNews) When we slouch on the
couch and spend hours staring at that colorful electronic box called a
television, we are actually, subconsciously, taking in hours of subtle
indoctrination via TV commercials. At the same time, we are also allowing
ourselves to lapse into a sedentary lifestyle, snacking on junk food as a
complementary habit. And these cause-and-effect links are very real, as revealed
in a recent University of Minnesota study, which found that teens who watch more
than 5 hours of TV each day are more likely to become fast food junkies when
they reach young adulthood.
Details and Findings of Study
The study, published online in the International Journal of Behavioral
Nutrition and Physical Activity, had looked at data on 1,366 students from
high school and 564 students from middle school. Information on the number of
hours every day which the students spent watching TV was collated and compared
with information on their dietary habits five years later as they reached young
The researchers found that high school students who watched over 5 hours of TV
each day consumed less fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods
as young adults, and instead had a higher intake of fast food, fried foods,
snack foods, sugary drinks as well as foods with trans fats.
It seems the advertisements for fast food restaurants and other similar junk
foods are having an impact. "Television watching impacts diet choices
adolescents make five years later," said Daheia Barr-Anderson, an assistant
professor of kinesiology and the leader of the study. She further conjectured
that snacking during TV time makes the young ones more likely to eat the foods
which are being advertised.
This study has brought our attention to an important issue - the impact of the
media is real and very pronounced. "This research tugs not so gently at the wool
in front of all of our eyes - revealing that heavy TV viewing, especially of
food advertising - makes a difference to our children`s diets," said Frederick J
Zimmerman, an assistant professor at the Child Health Institute of the
University of Washington.
"This research suggests that heavy TV-viewing adolescents consume about 200 more
calories per day than those who watch a moderate amount of TV. That is a lot of
calories by anyone`s count," he said. Zimmerman also added that these findings
will not be unexpected for people familiar with research connecting TV,
advertising and diet.
Parents Must Take Note
The kids are, well, still very young, and it is clear that parents have an
important role to play in influencing their habits and choices. This is another
key issue which we need to take note of. "Parents need to adhere to the American
Academy of Pediatrics` recommendation that children watch less than two hours of
quality television per day," said Barr-Anderson.
"Parents need to restrict what their kids are eating and try and provide a
better example for their kids, making sure they are getting the nutrients and
proper food that they need as opposed to the high-fatty foods, high-sugar foods,
low-nutrient-dense foods," she added.
Kimberly M Thompson, an associate professor of risk analysis and decision
science at the Harvard School of Public Health, agreed that parents play a
critical role. And this applies whether the cause of bad food choices is the TV
ads, the lapsing into sedentary lifestyles, or both.
"This study is a clear wake-up call that entertainment media matter when it
comes to health. Given the current obesity and overweight crisis in America,
this study provides clear evidence that kids and parents should make a point of
reducing sedentary time spent in front of a TV screen," she said.
The Young are in Trouble
Another recent worrying study on the state of health of our young ones include
how poor sleep and lack of sleep were found to be causing heightened blood
pressure, or a state of "prehypertension", in healthy adolescents. This increase
could not be explained by other factors such as obesity, socioeconomic status or
known comorbidities. Read more about that study
Even more alarming was what a study which was presented at the American Heart
Association`s 2008 annual meeting in New Orleans revealed - that children and
teenagers had arteries which were as degenerated as middle aged adults. The
study had found that more than 50% of the 70 young persons who were involved in
the study were, by "vascular age" terms, about 3 decades older than their actual
age. Read more about that study
Intuitively, we could probably link all the adverse health effects. Too much
late night TV, for example, would be a contributing factor for lack of sleep,
while overindulgence in junk foods also harms arterial and heart health.
What can parents do?
"For those looking to nudge their families in the right direction, implement a
rule in your home of no eating while the TV is on. Or if that`s too tough, then
insist that only fruits and
vegetables and water get consumed while viewing TV. You could also require that
for every hour of TV viewed, each member of the family needs to engage in at
least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise," suggested Thompson.
Adult Fast-Food Diets Tied to Too Much TV as Teen (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...)
Sleep quality and elevated blood pressure in adolescents. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...)
Obese Kids Have Middle-Aged Arteries (http://www.newsweek.com/id/168702)
Marlboro top choice of regular teen
CHICAGO – Marlboro,
the cigarette favored by adults, is also the runaway
favorite of teens who regularly smoke, according to
a new federal report released Thursday.
The results led
anti-smoking advocates to complain that the same
advertising that's supposed to target adults is also
influencing teens, even though smoking rates for
that age group have dropped in recent years.
still the most heavily advertised drug in America,"
said Dr. Victor Strasburger, a professor of
pediatrics at the
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
and a spokesman for the
American Academy of Pediatrics. "It's sad."
The report by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
found that 81 percent of established teen smokers
preferred the same three brands favored by adults:
Marlboro was the choice for 52 percent of
school students; Newport by 21 percent and
Camel by 13 percent. For
school students, the percentages were 43
percent, 26 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Newport was the
overwhelming choice for African-American students,
with more than three-quarters of black high school
smokers choosing that brand.
The results come
from a survey of 54,301 regular smokers, part of the
2004 and 2006
National Youth Tobacco Survey of nearly 5
million 12- to 17-year-olds.
The findings mirror
the adult population. The 2007 National Study on
Drug Use and Health found that the most popular
brands smoked by U.S. adults also were Marlboro,
Newport and Camel.
David Sutton, a
Group Inc., which owns
Philip Morris USA and the Marlboro brand,
said that adult influence was more likely a factor
than advertising. He said his company has curtailed
it by 46 percent in the last decade. Instead, he
said the company focuses on direct-mail marketing to
adults and advertising at retailers that sell its
a spokesman at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker
Camel cigarettes, said it's clear from
Camel's third-place ranking that the company has
succeeded in avoiding marketing to young people.
spokesmen also mentioned signs that the teen smoking
rate is dropping. An annual survey by
University of Michigan found that, in 2008,
smoking rates among American teens were at the
lowest levels since the survey began in 1991.
anti-smoking advocates are calling for even tougher
restrictions on advertising and for more no-smoking
is urging Congress to give the
and Drug Administration the power to regulate
tobacco products and marketing — and encouraged
funding for anti-smoking campaigns.
American Legacy Foundation's national "truth"
campaign. Launched in 2000, it includes an ad
showing young people unloading hundreds of body bags
and stacking them in the street outside a major
tobacco company to illustrate smoking-related
"We try to have
teens rebel against tobacco companies by not
smoking. The whole strategy is to make smoking not
cool," said Donna Vallone, an official with the
On the Net:
Monitoring the Future survey:
New CDC Study Shows Tobacco Marketing
Other Studies Show Effectiveness of Tobacco
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12
/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Matthew
L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
Several scientific studies released today
provide powerful new evidence that tobacco marketing causes kids to smoke,
while anti-tobacco advertising campaigns prevent smoking. These studies send
a loud and clear message to the nation's policy makers: We need less tobacco
marketing and more tobacco prevention.
It is critical that Congress this year pass
legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority
to regulate tobacco products and marketing, which among other things would
crack down on tobacco marketing that appeals to kids. It is also imperative
that Congress and the states increase funding for programs proven to prevent
kids from smoking and help smokers quit.
CDC Study: Youth Smokers
Overwhelmingly Prefer Three Most Heavily Advertised Brands
A study published by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that the three most heavily
advertised cigarette brands - Philip Morris' Marlboro, Lorillard's Newport
and R.J. Reynolds' Camel - continue to be the preferred brands of youth
smokers. These brands were preferred by 78.2 percent of middle school
smokers and 86.5 percent of high school smokers. Marlboro is preferred by
more high school smokers, 52.3 percent, than all other brands combined.
This study indicates that, despite limited
restrictions placed on tobacco marketing by the 1998 state tobacco
settlement, tobacco marketing continues to have a large and disproportionate
impact on the nation's youth. While tobacco companies claim they do not
market to kids, they're sure doing a good job of getting kids to use their
products. This study was published in the
February 13, 2009, issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report (www.cdc.gov/mmwr)
Congress can protect our nation's children
by granting the FDA authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and
sale of tobacco products. This bill would impose specific restrictions on
tobacco marketing that appeals to children. It would limit tobacco
advertising in stores and in magazines with significant teen readership to
black-and-white text only, eliminating the colorful images that depict
smoking as cool and glamorous. It would ban outdoor tobacco advertising near
schools and playgrounds, end tobacco sponsorships of sports and
entertainment events, and require stores to place tobacco products behind
the counter. The bill would also grant the FDA and the states authority to
further limit tobacco marketing.
In addition to these marketing
restrictions, the legislation would require larger and more effective health
warnings, ban misleading terms such as "light" and "low-tar," strictly
regulate all health claims about tobacco products, require disclosure of the
contents of and changes to tobacco products, and empower the FDA to mandate
changes in tobacco products, such as the reduction or removal of harmful
Three Studies Finds truth(R)
Prevention Campaign Reduces Smoking and Saves Money
In addition to the new CDC studies, three
new research papers find that truth(R), the national youth smoking
prevention campaign conducted by the American Legacy Foundation, has been
both highly effective and cost-effective in preventing America's youth from
starting to smoke. One study found that truth(R) was directly
responsible for keeping 450,000 teens from starting to smoke during its
first four years, while a second study found that the campaign not only paid
for itself in its first two years, but also saved between
$1.9 billion and $5.4 billion in health care costs. These two
studies were published online today by the American Journal of Prevention
A third study in the February issue of Ethnicity and Health found
that youth exposed to the truth(R) campaign were more likely to have
anti-tobacco beliefs and attitudes.
These studies show that tobacco prevention
campaigns are a vital element of the overall effort to reduce tobacco use
and its devastating consequences. Unfortunately, both nationally and in the
states, these programs are badly underfunded and fall woefully short of the
$13.4 billion a year the tobacco companies spend to market their
deadly and addictive products. This year, the states will collect
$24.6 billion in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco
taxes, but will spend less than three percent of it on tobacco prevention
and cessation programs. No state currently meets the CDC's recommendation
for funding such programs and many states are considering cuts to their
It is critical that both the federal
government and the states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from
smoking and help smokers quit. As underscored by the new studies, the
evidence is abundantly clear that these programs not only reduce smoking and
save lives, they save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.
It is penny-wise and pound-foolish to skimp on funding for these programs.
Today's new studies follow a landmark
August 2008 report by the National Cancer Institute that reached the
federal government's strongest conclusions to date that 1) tobacco
advertising and promotion cause kids to smoke and 2) mass media campaigns
are effective at reducing smoking, especially when combined with other
tobacco control strategies.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of
preventable death in the United States, killing more
than 400,000 people and costing the nation nearly $100 billion
in health care bills year. The Institute of Medicine, the President's Cancer
Plan and other public health authorities have recommended a clear plan for
winning the fight against tobacco use. It includes FDA regulation of tobacco
products, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and other
proven measures such as higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free workplace laws.
It is critical that Congress and other elected leaders take urgent action to
protect our children and the nation's health.
Too much television can make children
Too much television and time spent on the
internet can make children mentally ill, an in-depth report has concluded.
Excessive exposure makes a child materialistic,
which in turn affects their relationship with their parents and their health.
That is one of the conclusions of a new
wide-ranging survey into British childhood, produced for the Children's Society.
It says that children are part of a new form of
consumerism, with under 16 year-olds spending £3 billion of their own money each
year on clothes, snacks, music, video games and magazines.
The report claims that some advertisers
"explicitly exploit the mechanism of peer pressure, while painting parents as
buffoons" and that in its most extreme form, advertising persuades children that
"you are what you own".
In addition the "constant exposure" to
celebrities through, TV soaps, dramas and chat shows is having a detrimental
It says: "Children today know in intimate
detail the lives of celebrities who are richer than they will ever be, and
mostly better-looking. This exposure inevitably raises aspirations and reduces
It adds the way celebrities are portrayed
"automatically encourages the excessive pursuit of wealth and beauty."
This "media-driven consumerism" is having a
negative effect on a child's wellbeing, the report says.
It highlights a study into the effect of
consumerism on the psychological wellbeing of 10-13 year-olds.
That study found: "Other things being equal,
the more a child is exposed to the media (television and Internet), the more
materialistic she becomes, the worse she relates to her parents and the worse
her mental health."
The Good Childhood inquiry, compiled by more
than 35,000 contributors is independent of the Church of England affiliated
society but has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.
It takes an in-depth look at the changing face
of childhood and family life in Britain, and the challenges facing youngsters
The report has found that only a quarter of
children with mental health problems get any specialist help, and one in 10 five
to 16-year-olds now have mental health issues, ranging from anxiety or
depression to conduct disorders such as destructive behaviour.
It claims that the upward trend of violence in
the media in general, is making children violent and causing tension within the
The report says: "We know from controlled
studies that exposure to violence can breed violence.
"So it seems likely that the upward trend in
media violence is helping to produce the upward trend in violent behaviour – and
also the growth of psychological conflict in family relationships."
The report also notes that commercial pressures
have led to the "premature sexualisation" of young people.
It notes that young people are having sex
earlier because of "many forces", including "more privacy when both parents
work, more contraception, commercial pressures toward premature sexualisation,
and fundamental changes in attitude".
The report recommends that sex and
relationships, and understanding of the media should be a compulsory part of the
personal, social and health curriculum.
And it says advertising of unhealthy foods and
alcohol should be banned before 9pm.
Alcohol advertising and marketing may lead to
underage drinking. A large systematic review of more than 13,000 people,
published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, suggests that
exposure to ads and product placements, even those supposedly not directed at
young people, leads to increased alcohol consumption.
Lesley Smith and David Foxcroft from Oxford
Brookes University collated information from seven rigorously selected studies,
featuring information on 13,255 participants. This systematic review, funded by
the Alcohol and Education Research Council (AERC), is the first to study the
effects of advertising, product placement in films, games, sporting events and
music videos, depictions of drinking in various media, and exposure to product
stands in shops. According to Smith, "Our work provides strong empirical
evidence to inform the policy debate on the impact of alcohol advertising on
young people, and policy groups may wish to revise or strengthen their policy
recommendations in the light of this stronger evidence".
The authors found that exposure to TV alcohol
advertisements was associated with an increased tendency to drink, as were
magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events or concerts.
Hours spent watching films, playing games and watching music videos also
correlated with young peoples' tendency to consume alcoholic beverages. Smith
said, "All seven studies demonstrated significant effects across a range of
different exposure variables and outcome measures. One showed that for each
additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink
increased by 9% during the following 18 months. Another found that for each
additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was
a 15% increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later".
The authors recommend that counter-advertising,
social marketing techniques and other prevention options such as parenting
programmes, price increases and limiting availability may be useful to limit
alcohol problems in young people.
Notes to Editors
1. The effect of alcohol advertising, marketing
and portrayal on drinking behaviour in young people: systematic review of
prospective cohort studies
Lesley A Smith and David R Foxcroft
BMC Public Health (in press)
During embargo, article available here:
After the embargo, article available at journal
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If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are
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journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of
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1471-2458) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE,
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3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com)
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TV & Teen Depression
February 4 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Concerned that your
adolescent is watching to much TV? A new study gives parents good reason to be
concerned. Researchers reported this week that greater exposure to TV during the
teenage years appears to raise the risk of depression in young adulthood,
especially among males.
Dr. Brian A. Primack, of the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues studied the media habits of roughly
4,100 healthy non-depressed adolescents. They asked the adolescents how many
hours they spent during the last week watching TV or videos, playing computer
games or listening to the radio.
The adolescents reported an average of 5.68
hours of media exposure each day, including 2.3 hours of TV viewing per day.
Seven years later (at an average age of 21.8),
the study subjects were screened and 308 (7.4 percent) had developed symptoms of
According to the report, published in the
Archives of General Psychiatry, for each hour of TV viewed per day, the teens
had a statistically significant greater likelihood of developing depression in
Given the same amount of media exposure, young
women were less likely to develop symptoms of depression than were young men.
"We did not find a consistent relationship
between development of depressive symptoms and exposure to videocassettes,
computer games, or radio," they report.
There are several possible ways by which media
exposure could boost the risk of depression, the researchers say. The time spent
watching TV or using other electronic media may replace time spent socializing,
participating in sports or engaging in intellectual activities - all of which
may protect against depression.
Watching TV at night may disrupt sleep, which
is important for normal brain and emotional development. In addition, messages
transmitted through the media may reinforce aggression and other risky
behaviors, interfere with identity development or inspire fear and anxiety, the
This study, they conclude, "breaks new ground
in linking media use in adolescence to the development of depressive symptoms in
SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry,
Lots of TV and Web harms kids' health
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Spending a lot of time watching
TV, playing video games and surfing the Web makes children more prone to a range
of health problems including obesity and smoking, U.S. researchers said on
U.S. National Institutes of Health, Yale University and
the California Pacific Medical Center experts analyzed 173 studies done since
1980 in one of the most comprehensive assessments to date on how exposure to
media sources impacts the physical health of children and adolescents.
The studies, most conducted in the United States,
largely focused on television, but some looked at video games, films, music, and
computer and Internet use. Three quarters of them found that increased media
viewing was associated with negative health outcomes.
The studies offered strong evidence that children who
get more media exposure are more likely to become obese, start smoking and begin
earlier sexual activity than those who spend less time in front of a screen, the
Studies also indicated more media exposure also was
linked to drug and alcohol use and poorer school performance, while the evidence
was less clear about an association with attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, they added.
"I think we were pretty surprised by how overwhelming
the number of studies was that showed this negative health impact," NIH
bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the researchers in
the report released
by the advocacy group Common Sense Media, said in a telephone interview.
"The fact that it was probably more a matter of quantity
than actual content is also a concern. We have a media-saturated life right now
in the 21st century. And reducing the number of hours of exposure is going to be
a big issue."
Experts for decades have worried about the impact on
young viewers of the violence and sexual content in some TV programs, movies and
video games. Another issue is that kids are spending time sitting on a couch
watching TV or playing computer games when they could be running around outside.
One study cited in the report found that children who
spent more than eight hours watching TV per week at age 3 were more likely to be
obese at 7. And research shows that many U.S. children, even toddlers, watch far
Dr. Cary Gross of Yale University School of Medicine in
New Haven, Connecticut, another of the researchers, said TV and other media
content can have a profound impact on children's attitudes and beliefs, most
notably among teens.
He cited a U.S. study by the RAND research organization
published in November that showed that adolescents who watched more programing
with sexual themes had a higher risk of becoming pregnant or causing a
Thirteen of 14 studies that evaluated sexual behavior
found an association between media exposure and earlier initiation of sexual
behavior, the researchers said.
(Editing by Maggie Fox and Philip Barbara)
Media Bombardment Is Linked To Ill Effects During
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 2, 2008; Page C07
In a detailed look
at nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other
media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new
today found an array of negative health effects linked to greater use.
The report found strong connections between media
exposure and problems of childhood obesity and tobacco use. Nearly as
strong was the link to early sexual behavior.
Researchers from the
National Institutes of Health and
Yale University said they were surprised that so many studies
pointed in the same direction. In all, 173 research efforts, going back
to 1980, were analyzed, rated and brought together in what the
researchers said was the first comprehensive view of the topic. About 80
percent of the studies showed a link between a negative health outcome
and media hours or content.
"We need to factor that in as we consider our
social policies and as parents think about how they raise their kids,"
said lead researcher Ezekiel J. Emanuel, director of the Department of
Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, which took on the
project with the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media. "We tend not
to think of this as a health issue, and it is a health issue."
The average modern child spends nearly 45 hours
a week with television, movies, magazines, music, the Internet,
cellphones and video games, the study reported. By comparison, children
spend 17 hours a week with their parents on average and 30 hours a week
in school, the study said.
"Our kids are sponges, and we really need to
remember they learn from their environment," said coauthor Cary P.
Gross, professor at
Yale School of Medicine. He said researchers found it notable how
much content mattered; it was not only the sheer number of hours of
screen time. Children "pick up character traits and behaviors" from
those they watch or hear, he said.
Marcella Nunez-Smith, a lead author and also a
professor at the Yale School of Medicine, described the project as a
"mammoth" undertaking that spanned more than 18 months.
In probing childhood obesity, for example,
researchers found 73 studies over the past three decades, with 86
percent showing a negative association with media exposure. The studies
most central to the analysis were large high-quality efforts and
controlled for other factors.
Researchers are not interested in any sort of
censorship, Nunez-Smith said, but rather an increased awareness among
parents, teachers and society at large. "It really is a wake-up call,"
The study did not touch on issues of violence
and media, which researchers said was systematically reviewed by others.
Researchers also excluded analysis of advertising or marketing. Most
studies used in the analysis, as it turned out, focused on movies, music
and television. Researchers said a big gap was the lack of research on
the effects of the Internet, cellphones, social-networking sites and
In their study, they rated as above average
evidence to support the link between media exposure and drug use,
alcohol use and low academic achievement. Evidence was weaker for the
association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. "It does not
mean the link is not there, but the research evidence has not gotten
there yet," Gross said.
The report's authors hope it will be taken to
heart by parents, as well as educators, pediatricians and policymakers.
They came up with suggestions for each group, and James P. Steyer, chief
executive of Common Sense Media, suggested that parents get involved in
what their children see, hear and play -- and for how long.
"It's as important as going to their
parent-teacher conferences or going over their report cards," Steyer
said. "You have to know what
Facebook is, and
Twitter are, even though you grew up with 'Gilligan's Island' and
'All in the Family.' "
The new report was a systematic review of every
study since 1980 that met set scientific criteria and examined media
effects on obesity, tobacco, drug and alcohol use, sexual behavior, low
academic achievement and ADHD.
Adam Thierer, a senior fellow at the
market-oriented think tank Progress and Freedom Foundation, said it is
important to recognize that "correlation does not equal causation" in
research studies. He said he looked forward to reading the studies that
the report is based on and was glad that there was no call for
Those involved in the project said they were not
opposed to children using media and noted that several studies reached
positive conclusions, including one for adolescents who used the
Internet more frequently.
The issue, said Steyer, is: "How do we make this
the most positive experience it can be? How do we get the most
educational value . . . and how do we limit the negative effects?"
these tips to protect children:
� Limit screen
time to one to two hours a day. Consider
ditching cable or TV altogether.
about new media, such as text-messaging or
social-networking websites, and how your
children are using them.
rely on the ratings for video games.
Instead, watch or play the games yourself.
allow children to have computers, TVs or
other media in their bedrooms.
limits on how a child may use a new
purchase, such as an iPod, from the
Sources: Emanuel Ezekiel, National
Institutes of Health; Michael Brody,
University of Maryland; Jane Brown,
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill;
Victor Strasburger, University of New Mexico
School of Medicine
Parents and policymakers need to take action to
protect children from being harmed by TV, the Internet and other
types of media, a report says.
Researchers have done
individual studies for years to learn how media affect children. A
review released today, which analyzed 173 of the strongest papers over
28 years, finds that 80% agree that heavy media exposure increases the
risk of harm, including obesity, smoking, sex, drug and alcohol use,
attention problems and poor grades.
Some of the links are
particularly strong. For example, 93% of studies found that children
with greater media exposure have sex earlier. Authors say the soundest
studies are those linking media use with obesity, while the evidence
linking media exposure to hyperactivity is weaker.
The study provides
overwhelming evidence of the importance of limiting children's use of
media and teaching them to critically evaluate the ever-growing volume
of text, images and sounds with which they are bombarded, says co-author
Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health. He says the report
also urges Hollywood and technology makers to create entertainment that
is less toxic and more family-friendly.
"The idea that this is
having a really measurable adverse impact on health makes it important
to take this seriously," Emanuel says. "Every year, we have 4 million
new kids. How long are we going to wait?"
The average child spends
nearly 45 hours a week immersed in media — almost three times the amount
of time they spend with their parents, according to the report,
commissioned by Commonsense Media, a non-partisan watchdog group. In
comparison, children spend an average of 30 hours in school.
Keeping an eye on children's
media use is tougher today, says Jane Brown, a journalism and mass
communication professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
who was not involved in the report. In the past, families often watched
TV together, and parents could easily change the channel or voice their
disapproval. Today's technology often isolates children, who may tune
out their families to concentrate on a cellphone screen only they can
Even pediatricians struggle
to stay connected to their children. Victor Strasburger, a pediatrics
professor at the University of New Mexico who was not involved in the
study, says he took away his 15-year-old daughter's phone when he caught
her text-messaging at Thanksgiving dinner.
Michael Brody, a child
psychiatrist at the University of Maryland who also was not involved in
the study, says the country needs to address the onslaught of negatives
images. He says children today have greater exposure to online
pornography and Internet "hate sites" that attack minorities and gays.
The study's authors say
policymakers also need to establish "clear limits" on marketing products
such as junk food to children.
Ignoring these problems,
Brody says, will only lead to even higher rates of childhood obesity,
type 2 diabetes, violence and teen pregnancy.
"At some point," Brody says,
"we are all going to be paying for this."
Report Ties Children’s Use of Media to
The National Institutes of Health and a
nonprofit advocacy group, Common Sense Media, have another reason
for President-elect Barack Obama to keep urging parents to “turn off
In what researchers call the
report of its kind, a review of 173 studies about the effects
of media consumption on children asserts that a strong correlation
exists between greater exposure and adverse health outcomes.
“Coach potato does, unfortunately, sum it up
pretty well,” said Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chairman of the bioethics
department at the institutes’ clinical center, one of the study’s
The report should compel lawmakers to
underwrite media education efforts and public service advertising
campaigns and should motivate the entertainment industry to be more
“responsible and responsive,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive
of Common Sense Media, which helped to finance the study.
“The research is clear that exposure to
media has a variety of negative health impacts on children and
teens,” he said.
Dr. Emanuel, Mr. Steyer and others plan to
brief Washington policy makers on the study on Tuesday. Joined by
researchers at Yale University and California Pacific Medical
Center, Dr. Emanuel’s team analyzed almost 1,800 studies conducted
since 1980 and identified 173 that met the criteria the researchers
In a clear majority of those studies more
time with television, films, video games, magazines, music and the
Internet was linked to rises in childhood obesity, tobacco use and
sexual behavior. A majority also showed strong correlations — what
the researchers deemed “statistically significant associations” —
with drug and alcohol use and low academic achievement.
The evidence was somewhat less indicative of
a relationship between media exposure and attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder, the seventh health outcome that was studied.
Dr. Emanuel, whose brother, Rahm, is the
president-elect’s chief of staff, said he was surprised by how
lopsided the findings were. “We found very few studies that had any
positive association” for children’s health, he said.
Researchers sought to look at the health
effects of a wide array of media and distill 30 years of research
into a simple message. “The average parent doesn’t understand that
if you plop your kids down in front of the TV or the computer for
five hours a day, it can change their brain development, it can make
them fat, and it can lead them to get involved in risky sexual
activity at a young age,” Mr. Steyer said.
Acknowledging that socioeconomic status and
other factors can affect children’s health, Dr. Emanuel said the
researchers chose studies that controlled for outside variables and
ranked the strength of evidence accordingly.
Mr. Steyer said he was surprised to find an
absence of research into the impact of new technologies. “Media has
evolved at a dizzying pace, but there’s almost no research about
Facebook, MySpace, cellphones, et cetera,” he said.
His organization, which was founded in 2003
and provides family-oriented reviews and ratings of Web sites,
television shows and video games, intends to push for more research
into the media’s effects on children and the setting of limits on
advertising to children.
Mr. Obama has shown interest in the subject,
telling parents to “turn off the television set and put the video
games away” in speeches and running a commercial during the
campaign, “Turn It Off,” that focused on education.
While Dr. Emanuel wouldn’t say if the study
was a subject at Thanksgiving dinner with his brother, he said that
more research into media’s effects on children’s health was
“We have to be concerned about what’s on TV,
but we also have to be concerned about how much of the day kids are
actually interacting with TV and other media,” he said.
Study: Media Responsible For
Childhood Health, Safety Risks
Review was undertaken with the
backing of Common Sense and the National Institutes of Health
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting &
Cable, 12/2/2008 6:00:00 AM
studies" lays partial blame for a number of childhood health and
safety risks at the doorstep of the media, all kinds of media, and
recommends policymakers restrict ads, promote media education, among
And that recommendation comes from a group
of executives that includes a possible future FCC chairman or
communications policy czar.
The overwhelming majority of studies show
that media exposure is bad for kids' health, from making them fatter
to encouraging drug and alcohol and tobacco use, to hurting their
grades. That is according to a review of 173 studies conducted since
1980 on the impact of media on children's health and development.
The review was undertaken with the backing
of kids activist group Common Sense and the National Institutes of
Health. It looked at what Common Sense characterized as "the best"
studies, including evaluating them against each other for the
relative strength of the findings.
One of Common Sense's advisory board members
is Julius Genachowski, a college friend and advisor to Barack Obama
who is currently helping shape the adminisration's approach to
communications policy as a member of its tech transition team.
The study review was necessary, says Common
sense, because kids spend 45 hours a week with media, while only 30
hours in school and 17 hours with their parents. Media was defined
as movies, the Internet, video and computer games, magazines and
music, though advertising, journalism, and public service
announcements were exluded.
The exclusion of advertising seemed curious
since one of the conclusions from the study was to restrict
The review concluded that since 1980, 80% of
the 173 studies "concluded that increased media exposure was
associated with a negative health outcome," with the greatest impact
coming on childhood obesity, tobacco use and sexual behavior. In
addition to those three, the studies looked at drug use, alchohol
use, low academic achievement, and attention deficit hyperactivity
Only one study came up with a correlation
between exposure to specific media and a positive outcome--for
certain Web pages and better school performance--although seven
studies found a correlation between media quantity and better
The study panel recommends that parents take
a more active role in limiting, balancing and talking about media;
that policymakers limit the ads, fund media literacy and fund more
research; that the media better police their content, better educate
families about it, encourage kids to limit their consumption, and
create better educational media, and that schools adopt a media
literacy curriculum that includes Internet safety.
The "expert panel" review of the studies (by
the Yale University School of Medicine, NIH and the California
Pacific Medial Center) comes as Democrats prepare to take over the
White House as well as strengthened majorities in both houses of
This study and other recently-issued studies
linking media and behavior could provide ammunition for newly
empowered Democrats. That includes Jay Rockefeller, a strong critic
of the media's impact on kids, who is taking over the Senate
Commerce Committee; and Ed Markey (D-MA), a critic of snack food
marketing to kids. Markey is already chairman of the powerful House
Telecommunications Subcomittee, but could become even more powerful
since new Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA)
is expected to defer more communications issues to Markey and focus
more on energy issues.
Media exposure of children linked
to obesity, tobacco use: study
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Greater exposure of children
and teenagers to television, music, movies and other
media is linked to obesity, tobacco use and other
negative health issues, according to a
"The results clearly show that
there is a strong correlation between media exposure and
long-term negative health effects to children," said
Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health,
lead researcher on the study.
The study, "Media and Child and
Adolescent Health: A Systematic Review," was done by the
Yale University School of Medicine, National Institutes
of Health, and California Pacific Medical Center and
published by Common Sense Media.
It looked at the best studies on
media and health from the last 28 years, a total of 173
in all, and found that 80 percent of them showed that
greater media exposure led to negative health effects in
children and adolescents.
The study examined media exposure
and seven health outcomes: tobacco use, early sexual
behavior, childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder
with hyperactivity, low academic performance, drug use
and alcohol use.
"This review is the first ever
comprehensive evaluation of the many ways that media
impacts children's physical health," said Emanuel, whose
brother, Rahm Emanuel, is chief of staff to
president-elect Barack Obama.
The strongest link was found
between media and obesity with 86 percent of 73 studies
finding a strong relationship between increased screen
time and obesity.
Eight-eight percent of 24 studies
examining media and tobacco use found a statistically
significant relationship between increased media
exposure and an increase in smoking at an early age.
Of eight studies on media and drug
use, 75 percent found a statistically significant
relationship between media exposure and drug use while
80 percent of 10 studies reported a statistically
significant association between media exposure and early
Sixty-five percent of 31 studies
evaluated reported a statistically significant
association between increased media exposure and poor
academic outcomes such as low standardized test scores
Sixty-two percent of 26 studies
which analyzed the number of hours spent watching
television reported a significant relationship between
greater media exposure and low academic achievement.
On a positive note, one study of
Internet use did find that increased access to certain
types of websites was associated with better school
Thirteen of 14 studies (93
percent) found a statistically significant association
between media exposure and early sexual behavior.
As for attention deficit disorder
with hyperactivity, nine of 13 studies (69 percent)
found an association between media exposure and
increased attention problems.
According to the study, the
average child or adolescent spends nearly 45 hours per
week with media, compared with 17 hours with parents and
30 hours in school.
The study's authors said most of
the quality studies available focused on television,
movies and music and said future research should look at
the impact of the Internet, video games and cellphones.
"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 cellphones -- which kids are using today
with more frequency," said Emanuel.
The authors of the study
recommended that parents place limits on the amount of
media their children consume, ensure they watch
age-appropriate programs and encourage them to spend
more time playing outside.
"Parents and educators must
consider the effects of media when they're trying to
address issues with their child's health," said James
Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense
Usage and Adolescent Health, a Metastudy
December 3, 2008
and Adolescent Health, a
increasingly pervasive in the
lives of children
and adolescents # the average
kid today spends nearly
45 hours per week with media,
compared with 17 hours
with parents and 30 hours in
school. However, until
now there has been very little
comprehensive analysis of
the different research tracking
the impact of media on
executive summary of a
metatstudy on the relationship
between use of media and
adolescent health. The research
results were published December
2nd by the advocacy group
Common Sense Media.
was undertaken by the National
Institutes of Health, the Yale
University School of Medicine,
and the California Pacific
Medical Center, and analyzed the
“best [research] studies”
undertaken since 1980 on this
topic. One hundred seventy three
“best studies” were identified.
specific interest was the impact
of increased media usage on:
- tobacco use
- drug use
- alcohol use
- low academic achievement
- sexual behavior
- Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
the researchers attempted to
assess studies related to the
usage of all media (the
internet, magazines, movies,
music, television, and video
games), the researchers found
that “most of the quality
studies” investigated only the
impact on adolescenthealth of
movies, television and music.
“best studies,” 127 evaluated
the relationship between the
hours adolescents spent on media
usage and health outcome.
Seventy five percent of these
127 studies demonstrated an
increase number of hours were
associated with a “negative
health outcome” and 20% showed
no statistically significant
relationship. Seven studies (6%)
showed a positive relationship
between media usage and some
measure health outcome.
means the results were unlikely
to have occurred by chance.
increased media usage was
associated with increased
incidence of obesity and
increased weight gain over time.
(Of 73 studies, 63 (86%) showed
this association as statically
significant.) A single
longitudinal study begun with
5,493 three year old children
found that children watching
more than 8 hours of television
“were significantly more likely
to be obese at age seven.”
usage: increased media usage was
associated with increased
smoking, which was defined as
“”children trying smoking, or
beginning to smoke at an earlier
age.” (Of 24 studies, 21 (88%)
showed this association as
Usage: increased media usage was
associated with increased drug
usage, defined as “past or
current use of specific
recreational drugs including
methamphetamines, and ecstasy.”
(Of 8 studies, 6 (75%) showed
this association as statically
Usage: increased media usage was
associated with increased
alcohol usage. (Of 10 studies, 8
(80%) showed this association as
academic achievement: increased
media usage was shown to have a
negative impact on academic
achievement “measured through
standardized test scores or
school grades.” (Of 31 studies,
20 (65%) showed this association
as statically significant.)
behavior: increased media usage
was associated with “a more
rapid progression of initiation
of sexual behavior.’ (Of the 14
studies, 13 (93%) showed this
association as statically
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD): increased media usage
was associated with “increased
attention problems.” (Of the 13
studies, 9 studies (69%) showed
this association as statically
a single research study can fall
victim to the “umbrella/rain”
correlation fallacy. Technically
known as “Post hoc ergo propter
hoc” or Post hoc thinking, it
can be reduced to “X happened, Y
happened, therefore X caused Y
fallacy lies in the assumed
directionality. On days that it
rains, we see many people with
umbrellas. Did the increased
number of people with umbrellas
cause the rain to fall, or did
the impending rain cause people
to carry umbrellas? Does
increased media usage lead to
obesity, or are obese people
more likely to watch more
rigorous analysis of a large
number of “best studies,” a
metastudy can avoid the
correlation or Post Hoc fallacy.
advantages of a metastudy,
one is that it pulls together
all printed research on a
subject, in contrast to the
single studies which often make
gathering the research studies
for a quality metastudy,
typically a panel independent of
the reviewers ranks each of the
collected studies as to quality
of research methodology and
quantity of subjects in each
study. A quality metastudy can
control for study variation and
can utilize statistical methods
such as regression techniques
which may not be appropriate in
small N studies.
Metastudies are not without
well defined and unless the
input is independently evaluated
and controlled, a metastudy can
have the disadvantage of
investigator bias or weak study
disadvantage of metastudies of
published research is that
unpublished results are ignored,
thus skewing the results
(Studies which result in a null
(no) relationship between two
variables are seldom published.
Thus if there are 1,000 studies
of media and health outcomes
which find no relationship,
these are “lost” as the
researchers collect the studies
which show a relationship.)