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Health and Well-Being Effects of Media on Children Evaluated

Study finds little has been done to protect children from harmful effects, or boost benefits

FRIDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Little has been done, to date, to protect adolescents and children from the harmful effects of television, Internet, cell-phone, and video-game exposure or to increase the potential health and well-being benefits, according to research published online March 1 in Pediatrics.

Victor C. Strasburger, M.D., of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, and colleagues reviewed the most recent research on the harmful and beneficial effects of media on the health and well-being of children and adolescents.

The researchers found that children and adolescents spend greater than seven hours per day using media, with many having access to the Internet, computer, and television in their bedrooms. Media exposure may contribute to harmful behaviors in children, including aggressive and risky sexual behavior; school performance and learning problems; and substance abuse, obesity and eating disorders. However, evidence also suggests that media exposure may provide health and well-being benefits, including safe health behaviors and social connectedness.

"To date, too little has been done by parents, health care practitioners, schools, the entertainment industry, or the government to protect children and adolescents from harmful media effects and to maximize the powerfully pro-social aspects of modern media," the authors write. "More research is needed, but sufficient data exist to warrant both concern and increased action."

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