How media researchers fail our children

empty classroom

One of the biggest faults of media researchers, myself included, is that we are doing a poor job of educating the public about research related to children and media. It’s like we’re speaking to ourselves in an empty classroom.

Just this morning I came across a recent article written by Dr. Victor Strasburger, a Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics (Emeritus) at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics – a journal, by the way, that typical parents either don’t know about or can’t even access.

The article said: “As researchers and advocates, we simply have to do a more effective and aggressive job of dispelling media myths and educating the public. One example is the AAP’s 2-hour limit on entertainment screen time—we simply have not educated the public that it was entirely evidence based, with multiple very long-term longitudinal studies on obesity showing that > 2 hours per day is a major risk factor. Here is a second example. In the 2012 US Supreme Court decision about the California law that tried to ban the sale of violent video games to children, Justice Scalia compared first-person shooter video games to Homer’s Odyssey and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. If a learned Supreme Court justice doesn’t understand the research literature, how can we expect John Q. Public to?”

So, today, I have an invitation for you. I started this blog in order to do my part at rectifying this very problem. But I need your help. Our children need your help. Get involved in the conversation. Share your thoughts and stories about media in your lives, whether by commenting on my posts or on your own timelines. Maybe you share the ChildrenAndMediaMan Facebook page with people or invite your friends to like/follow it. Maybe you share the Common Sense Media Facebook page, or any number of other resources. Share articles that you come across that talk about these things. How can parents talk to their kids about media if they don’t even know what to talk about?! You’re already here reading this, so you’re part of the solution. You have to be. I believe that the impact of media exposure on children is bigger than any of us think. We are so immersed in a mediated culture, that I think we can’t see the forest for the trees. Media researchers are finally just starting to realize this. In the fight for our children, we first have to fight the apathy that keeps research from getting into the hands of parents.

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