Pediatricians Fault Media Violence and Sex

The AAP says TV, music and video games may be sending kids unhealthy messages.

ByABC News
October 19, 2009, 6:52 PM

Oct. 25, 2009— -- Violence and sex in music, movies, television and video games pose such a serious threat to children and teenagers that the nation's chief organization of pediatricians wants doctors to do something about it.

"The evidence is now clear and convincing: media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression," the American Academy of Pediatrics' council on communications and the media concluded in one of two statements published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Likewise, the group said, music plays an important part sending the wrong messages to youngsters about sex, drugs, alcohol and tobacco, too.

When children show up for medical exams, doctors should ask them specific questions about how much and what kind of music they listen to, how much time they spend on TV and video games, and whether they have TV in their rooms.

The answers could be warning signs that prompt additional evaluations and talks with both parents and children about the time they spend watching, listening and playing -- as well as way their time might be better spent.

Although concerns about violence on TV and games have long been an issue with parents' groups and psychologists, the APA's panel cited studies suggesting that children and teens actually spend more time listening to music than watching TV each day.

This can be an issue because parents are often unaware of the lyrics of the music to which their kids are listening, especially when they're downloading music online and listening with earphones.

Lyrics have become more explicit in references to sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and violence, the authors noted, and studies have linked a preference for certain types of music to specific behaviors.

For example, the kind of electronic music played at raves has been associated with use of drugs and alcohol, while heavy metal and rap have been associated with reckless behavior and below-average academic performance, the authors said.

Heavy metal and some types of rock music have also been associated with an increased risk of suicide, depression, delinquency risk behavior, smoking, and conduct problems.