The maxim holds true: too much of anything is bad for you. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy group, and researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Yale University and California Pacific Medical Center have published a report that draws links between media consumption and children’s health. After reviewing 173 studies in various categories, the researchers found that the more TV, movies, music and technology a child is exposed to, the higher the health risks they face. MEDIA spoke with Stanford University professor James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, about how parents can keep their kids on the media straight and narrow.
It seems that the takeaway from this report is that heavy consumption of media makes kids fatter, more likely to smoke, use drugs and get bad grades. Is that the sum of it?
Basically. Too much bad media can be hazardous to your child’s health. What we wanted to do was not just take a look at one connection between media and health, say, childhood obesity or sexual behavior. We wanted to conduct a meta-study, a comprehensive look at all different aspects of the way media affects children. And the bottom line is that it can have a significant impact in the areas we looked at: childhood obesity, tobacco use, sexual behavior, drug use, alcohol use, low academic achievement and ADHD. [Lead researcher] Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and his team looked at thousands of studies, and then picked the 173 best. In the areas that were graded high