American children are heavily exposed to media, with almost constant access and often without adult supervision. In addition to television and radio, growing numbers have access to video games, ipods, cell phones, and the internet and social networking websites. Young people spend more time using media than they do on any single activity other than sleep. Some believe that media technology is helping American children become better educated, more socially connected, and better informed than any previous generation. Others fear that it is a hazard – exposing them to advertising, disturbing images, and strangers.
When examining the effects of media on youth, one thing is clear: content matters. While some media can have a negative effect on children, positive media campaigns have been shown to enhance healthful behaviors. On April 23, a slate of panelists, including researchers, media representatives, and advocates discussed the role of government and the private sector in making media a positive force in the lives of young people. Video clips from several positive media campaigns designed to improve the health and well-being of the nation’s youth were presented. This event also marked the release of the latest volume of The Future of Children Journal, “Children and Electronic Media,” published by Brookings and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.