Posted in advertising, American Academy of Pediatrics, digital parenting, marketing to kids, media messages, parents and technology

The Media Is the Message for Our Children

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the story.
Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the controversy and read the story.

In light of the extraordinary negative media messages about body image in children’s lives, ensuring the strength and confidence of preadolescents and teens is a continuing challenge for parents and teachers. So much of the advertising markets thinness, popularity, sexuality, and one type of attractiveness, so it can be difficult for adults to counteract the effect of the of this pressure on a child.

Sometimes the entire ethos of a company emphasizes values that we do not want children in our care to adopt.

A distressing article over at the Huffington Post, A Message to Abercrombie’s CEO from a Former Fat Girl by Sara Taney Humphreys, highlights how one company has made exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, a part of its mission. Humphreys’ article isn’t about something that happened recently, but rather a quote from a 2006 Salon article about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. While the article is more than six years old, the comments are disturbing, especially given the number of children who like to shop at Abercrombie and the many others who struggle with body image. Below is a quote from the Salon article.

As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

You can also listen to this ABC Chicago television story (after an airlines advertisement), including interviews with teenagers — many of whom can fit into the Abercrombie clothes but choose not to buy them. The teens are demonstrating at one of the stores in Chicago.

You might also want to look over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement on media and children.

Posted in family conversations, healthy media images, media literacy, parent child conversations, parent education, resources to read, risky behavior

Conversations About Skins from Common Sense Media

As usual, Common Sense Media is right on top of the latest media/television family dilemma, and the website has published a short piece to help parents talk with their teenage children about the MTV program, Skins. In Tough Talk: How Parents Can Use MTV’S Skins As a Jumping Off Point, Liz Perle writes, “MTV’s teen drama Skins (a remake of the even edgier British series) showcases every behavior that keeps parents of teenagers up at night.” Perle suggests conversation pointers that can help parents begin conversations on these all too nerve-wracking topics. While these subjects keep parents in a perpetual state of jitters, teenagers confront many of the issues the issues on a daily basis — though honestly the show itself seems overly contrived. Check out the article.

The point is – and this is a Common Sense Media mantra (about page) — no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be, the most important thing is to work hard to keep the dialogue going throughout the challenging teenage years. The conversations, even if they don’t go as smoothly as a parent wishes, nevertheless help adolescent kids think about making better choices.

Posted in healthy media images, media literacy, parent education, parents and technology, technology and health problems, teens and technology

Pediatricians’ Policy Statement on Media Education – September 2010

Listen to these docs!

The September 27, 2010 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), includes an updated policy statement on media education. Full text is available, as the journal and its editors appear committed to providing easy access to articles on media and other topics that may be of interest to parents and educators.

The updated policy statement, written by media education advocate and lead author Victor Strasburger, M.D.,together with a veritable who’s who of like-minded pediatricians, addresses the health concern that arise when children are over-exposed to media. Easy-to-read and jammed-packed with information, the document provides an overview of physician concerns about the media literacy of their young patients. With 93 footnotes, the policy statement also connects readers with pertinent scientific research so that readers, if they choose, can search for research abstracts about media education and children’s health (check PubMed for the abstracts).

The policy statement addresses the following topics — all of considerable interest to families with children — and includes recommendation to pass on to parents: Continue reading “Pediatricians’ Policy Statement on Media Education – September 2010”

Posted in acceptable use, digital citizenship, digital parenting, parent education, parents and technology, resources to read

Check Out Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit advocacy organization designed for families, offers trustworthy information, media evaluations, and all sort of online tools to help  parents, kids, and educators become more sophisticated consumers. Think of Common Sense Media as an information portal rather than a mere website. Parents, no matter the age of children in the family, can consult the organization’s web  site for age appropriate information about movies, current media events, digital citizenship advice, and much more. A separate part of the website provides information for educators and schools. Common Sense Media is  non-partisan, and you can learn more at the Common Sense Media FAQ.

A few of the organizational core beliefs (others can be found at the website) include: Continue reading “Check Out Common Sense Media”

Posted in answers to media questions, digital parenting, media literacy, parent education, parents and technology

The Center on Media and Child Health-Meet the Mediatrician – Bookmark It

Do you constantly ask questions about the influence of media on your children? The Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) website at Boston Children’s Hospital is a reservoir of information for parents, teachers, pediatricians, and other professionals. Led by pediatrician Michael Rich, MD, MPH, a professor at Harvard Medical School, the mission of the organization is to “…empower both children and those who care for them to create and consume media in ways that optimize children’s health and development.”

The Center and its staff are especially concerned with helping parents become skilled at overseeing the media that children consume. The philosophy is not to banish media — that is impossible anyway — but to help adults and children learn how to manage it skillfully, as well as to understand direct and subliminal media messages. You can also visit the CMCH blog for regular and timely posts about children, adolescents, media and research.

In addition to the resources at the CMCH Dr. Rich writes a column, Ask the Mediatrician, answering questions about media and children. Anyone can submit a question, and an archive of past questions and answers is posted at the site. A button link to this feature is in the middle of the right-hand column.

One of My Favorite Quotes from Dr. Michael Rich

In America we make a distinction between education and entertainment. We learn important values and serious information in school, at church, and in the doctor’s office. But television, movies and other media are entertainment, relaxing “down time for our minds.” Unfortunately, the education/entertainment dichotomy is both artificial and false…Children spend more time using media than they spend at school, with parents, or in any other activity except for sleep. Media are teaching our children, and they are incorporating what they learn into their lives. We must pay more attention to the lessons they are learning.

“Every Moment is a Teachable Moment,” Pediatrics, July 1, 2001 (p.180)