Virtual Worlds Luring Children

by Hiawatha Bray | The Boston Globe | August 27, 2007

More and more websites are offering social networking opportunities for young children. Much like MySpace
and Facebook function for teenagers and college students, these sites allow children to connect with
one another and to participate in live chat.

“‘It’s difficult to say whether so much online fantasy is beneficial or harmful to children’, says Dr. David Bickham, Staff Scientist at CMCH. But ‘there’s a lot of potential in both directions,’ he said.

‘While the sites can provide valuable educational tools and ways for children to socialize, ‘those kids might be missing out on the positives that real-world social friendships have,’ Bickham said.”

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The Virtual Generation

by Jo Chandler | The Age | August 14, 2007

Teens everywhere spend much of their lives in a virtual reality enhanced by their access to technology. Their iPods, camera phones, and handheld
games go with them wherever they go, and when they return home, they use computer services like instant messaging, MySpace, and LiveJournal to interact with friends.
Dr. Michael Rich, Director of CMCH, often has to explain to parents that teens “change identities as often as they change clothes. They are trying stuff out, creating themselves out of the mosaic of possibilities – this is how they become unique individuals…What happens with YouTube and MySpace and blogs is that they get to play out these virtual personae.
It remains to be seen how this works out … We have a huge uncontrolled experiment going on.”

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‘Smart Baby’ DVDs No Help, May Harm

by Daniel J. DeNoon | WebMD | August 7, 2007

For years now, parents have been buying videos from companies like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby, aiming to increase
their children’s intelligence. Pediatricians have been wary of these videos,
even recommending that children use no
screen media until they are two years old.

A new study shows evidence that the videos may not provide the intellectual
leaps parents are hoping for. The researchers found that the children who regularly watched baby videos scored
about 10% lower on language skills than those who did not watch the videos.

“Many companies that sell ‘smart-baby’ video products claim or imply that the products will make children smarter — and
that parents who don’t buy the products will miss a crucial window of opportunity to do the right thing. ‘There’s no
scientific evidence behind these claims’, says Dr. David Bickham, Staff Scientist at CMCH. ‘It is really important for parents to realize there isn’t any research showing
a positive effect of smart-baby videos.’”
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Don’t Admit One

by Diane Debrovner | Parents Magazine | August 1, 2007

This Summer’s movie releases include many films that kids are attracted to (Spiderman, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Simpsons Movie
to name a few). But do the movies’ ratings match how parents would rate them? A 2002 study found
that parents often disagreed with how much violence was appropriate for kids to see.

Director of CMCH, Dr. Michael Rich, was interviewed for an article about movie ratings in the August issue of Parents magazine. He noted that “movies can be uplifting, enlightening,
and funny, but some can make all sorts of high-risk behavior — from smoking to shooting — seem attractive and perfectly normal to kids.”
Learn more about movie ratings
Learn more about media violence