Media Effects on Child Health

Media effects on child health are not in the prim agenda of child health providers, nor do the standard books on pediatrics cover the various effects that media could impose on various facets of childhood development.

Literature shows that media menace on child health has been the topic of research for almost half a century, but the results yet continue to be debatable.

Media Effects on Children's Health

This is because the modern electromagnetic energy run media communication gadgets have opened doors to vast knowledge, great developmental supports and access to information on available opportunities.

The benefits of media are undoubtedly countless. We are enjoying them all the time.

I as an informatic website owner can certainly not disregard the benefits. Nevertheless, like every good invention, media effects also bring up undesirable child health issues. A lot of children do fall victim to media menace with excessive exposure to media.

In my own clinic, I had few toddlers who presented with panic attacks after the mishaps of 11 September in US and 2006 Mumbai train bombing.

In all these children there was only one thing in common. - Parents were continuously watching the news bulletins.

Taken up by the devastation, parents happened to overlook that with them their little toddler was also watching the ongoing misery on the television.

The out come was, as the lights would go off and the kids would be put in their room on their bed, they would start crying inconsolably.
Parents and kids together witnessed the panic attacks and I had busy nights attending to them with no medical cause identified.

This was an extreme example of media effects and media is not just television. Movies, video and computer games, the Internet, music lyrics and videos, newspapers, magazines, books, and advertising together form the mass media communication system.

The entire multi media communication system leaves a lasting impression; on all those who are exposed to it - including the animals. Have we not often seen clips of media effects on some animals? - Dogs can click on the faviorate program, elephant can dance to a tune and a pet cat at home can sit and watch a Mickey Mouse show.

Indeed, the flashing lights, attractive colors, picture presentations pepped with sound effects leaves deep impression on human brain and media is a great source for it. Children who are exposed to it are bound to be affected both positively and negatively.

Media effects dominate modern children’s environment right from birth. Childhood is a phase of development and maturation of the intricate thought process and implementation of effective action.

The sparkling lights of multi media have dimmed the sparkle in our children in numerous ways:

  • Psychosocial development is affected.

  • Language development is marred.

  • Media effects on innate temperament make children unduly aggressive or timid. Parents' help through the temperamental turmoils of growing years is lost.

  • Role models are developed from the media world which leads to distorted/unrealistic attitude and lifestyle values.

  • Cognitive development, the core of a child’s intelligence, is restricted due to lack of opportunity for active interaction.

  • Poor parent-child bonding, because television not only puts parents on the back seat, but leaves no time for healthy interaction among the family members.

  • Vision defects can occur.

  • Hearing can be impaired due to constant exposure to loud sound and extreme tones right from tender age.

  • Obesity.

  • Scholastic achievements deteriorate.

  • Poor sports activity.

  • Isolation, teenage depression, aggressive behavior and/or feeling of rejection.

  • Poor body image which may even lead to eating disorders.

  • Poor self-esteem, because the television characters can always do much more than any child can ever achieve.

  • Poor social adjustment, especially with peers.

  • May precipitate epilepsy in children who are prone to the disease. Medically this is known as “Television induced epilepsy”

  • Easy access to inappropriate information for the age, for example substance abuse like tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

  • Cyber bullying

  • Sexting

  • Effects of electro magnetic field generated with the use of mobile phones, i-pads, computers etc on child health.

  • Orthopedic problems that may arise due to slouching in front of computers.

  • Compromises road safety, especially in teenagers.

  • Jeopardizes child security due to the possibility of hacking information.

  • Phobias and panic attacks.

  • Sleep disturbances.

  • Feeling of fatigue.

  • Sibling disharmony.

  • Poor development of creative talents.

  • Sexual behavior is influenced right from preteen years – for example gender confusion, homosexuality, ways to attract the opposite sex and more.

  • Inability to concentrate for considerable length of time.

  • Facebook depression.

  • Media effects on consumerism in children.

There could be yet more ways in which mass media menaces child health.

However, the undesirable effects mentioned above should be enough to emphasis the fact that we need to guard our children against them and use the great advances in communication technology only for the betterment of the childhood.

Only when we, the adults, arm ourselves with the knowledge of various advancements in the mass media communication system, will we be able to teach media literacy to our children.

Media education is the only answer to help children select the program carefully. Thereby, will we be able to minimize the harmful effects of mass media and accentuate its positive effects for our children.

Related pages of interest

Television Viewing Time: Screen Addiction

Cyber Bullying Is Plaguing Tweens And Teens

Sexting: Range and Repercussions 

Facebook Depression, A Pressing Child Health Issue Of Social Networking

Teens Therapeutic Activity: Blogging

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