An US expert has revealed that easy access to a wide variety of media increases a child's risk for numerous health issues, such as obesity, eating disorders, drug use and early sexual activity.
Victor C. Strasburger of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, says that on average, American children and teens spend more than six hours a day with media such as TV, computers, Internet, video games and VCR or DVD players -- more time than they spend per day receiving formal classroom instruction.
All this media access affects a variety of health issues, he said.
"The media are not the leading cause of any paediatric health problem in the United States, but they do make a substantial contribution to many health problems," says Strasburger.
He recommends that parents, teachers and clinicians need to be educated about these connections, and student education about media should be mandatory in schools.
"Parents have to change the way their children access the media -not permitting TV sets or Internet connections in the child's bedroom, limiting entertainment screen time to less than two hours per day, and co-viewing with their children and adolescents. Research has shown that media effects are magnified significantly when there is a TV set in the child's or adolescent's bedroom," says Strasburger.
The study is published in the June 3 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on child and adolescent health.