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Clinician's Corner
June 3, 2009

Media and Children: What Needs to Happen Now?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque.

JAMA. 2009;301(21):2265-2266. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.572

Physicians underestimate the influence of the media on children and adolescents.1 On average, children and adolescents spend more than 6 hours a day with media—more time than in formal classroom instruction.2Quiz Ref IDIn addition, US youth have unprecedented access to media (two-thirds have a television set in their bedrooms, half have a VCR or DVD player, half have a video game console, and almost one-third have Internet access or a computer2), making parental monitoring of media use difficult. A recent survey of 365 pediatricians found that only half recommend limiting media use to 1 to 2 hours per day (the recommended American Academy of Pediatrics policy) and half were not interested in learning more about media effects on their patients through media education.3 But the media have an influence on a variety of health issues, such as sex, drugs, aggressive behavior, obesity, eating disorders, and suicide.1,4 It is important for physicians to understand the most harmful aspects of media use and whether young people can be adequately protected against them, and how to maximize prosocial media.