There is great educational value in having access to news and information — in moderation. But media has become so all-encompassing that advertising, television, computers, texting, etc., have been shown to have negative effects on children. So The American Academy of Pediatrics has released recommendations regarding children and substance abuse, as well as overall media education.
“Although parents, schools and the federal government are trying to get children and teenagers to ‘just say no’ to drugs, more than $25 billion worth of cigarette, alcohol and prescription drug advertising is effectively working to get them to ‘just say yes’ to smoking, drinking and other drugs,” wrote the policy’s authors. Every year, more than 400,000 people in the United States die from smoking-related illness, according to the policy statement. And, more than 100,000 deaths can be attributed to excessive alcohol consumption.
Regarding substance abuse, the AAP would like to see a ban on all tobacco ads and an end to smoking in movies. If characters are smoking, they shouldn’t be glamorized, the statement advises. Other recommendations include:
- Limit advertising and product placement for alcohol in venues where more than 10 percent of the audience are children. Alcohol use in teens shouldn’t be portrayed as normal in movies or TV shows, and no one should be shown as being “funny-drunk.”
- The White House Office on Drug Control Policy should conduct anti-smoking and anti-teen-drinking public service campaigns.
- Drug companies, public health groups and the medical communities should have an open debate on the necessity of advertising prescription drugs.
- Ads for erectile dysfunction drugs should only be shown after 10 p.m., and they shouldn’t be overly suggestive.
- Schools should try to incorporate media education into their curricula.
- Parents should limit unsupervised media use.
- Click here for the full recommendations regarding substance abuse
Substance abuse is not the only concern. Overexposure to violent media — including movies, television, and video games — desensitizes kids to violence and can result in aggressive behavior. The AAP endorses media education for children and recommends that physicians ask the following during each well visit: 1) How much entertainment per day is the child watching? The AAP recommends no more than 2 hours. 2) Is there a TV or Internet access in the child’s bedroom?
The AAP recommends that schools and parents teach responsible media education skills; continue to avoid exposure before the age of two; Congress should fund and require media education in schools. Click here for the full policy statement on media education.