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Report suggests TV, Internet harm kids

Staff Report • Dec 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM

According to a report in USA Today parents and policymakers need to take action to protect children from being harmed by TV, the Internet and other types of media.

Researchers have done individual studies for years to learn how media affect children. A review released today, which analyzed 173 of the strongest papers over 28 years, finds that 80% agree that heavy media exposure increases the risk of harm, including obesity, smoking, sex, drug and alcohol use, attention problems and poor grades.

Some of the links are particularly strong. For example, 93% of studies found that children with greater media exposure have sex earlier. Authors say the soundest studies are those linking media use with obesity, while the evidence linking media exposure to hyperactivity is weaker.

The study provides overwhelming evidence of the importance of limiting children's use of media and teaching them to critically evaluate the ever-growing volume of text, images and sounds with which they are bombarded, says co-author Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health. He says the report also urges Hollywood and technology makers to create entertainment that is less toxic and more family-friendly.

CLICK HERE for the full report.

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