Youthful Exposure to Old, New Media Holds Promise and Peril

Kids spend one-fourth of their time consuming media; does it help or harm them?

ByABC News
March 1, 2010, 12:50 PM

March 1, 2010— -- Children and teenagers spend more than one-fourth of every day using media such as television, video games, computers and cell phones, according to a new survey of past research that identified both risks and potential benefits for America's youth.

Youngsters spend more than seven hours per day using media, on average. The majority have a TV in their bedroom as well as access to a computer, the Internet, video-games and a cell phone, according the March 1 online report in Pediatrics.

This exposure to the media can make children more prone to violence, early and unprotected sexual activity, alcohol and tobacco consumption, obesity, attention deficit disorder and possibly poor performance in school, the study found.

On the other hand, media can serve as a powerful communication and educational tool for conveying and encouraging healthy attitudes and behaviors.

"Studies have shown that media can provide information about safe health practices and can foster social connectedness," Dr. Victor C. Strasburger of the University of New Mexico and colleagues concluded.

"However, recent evidence raises concerns about media's effects on aggression, sexual behavior, substance use, disordered eating, and academic difficulties."

Strasburger and colleagues reviewed research on the influence of media on youth over the past 50 years, distilling the primary findings of how youth consume "old media" (television, movies, magazines) and "new media" (Internet, video games, cell phones), and how this changes their behaviors and beliefs.

Among the findings of the review: