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Center on Media and Child Health Launches "Ask the Mediatrician"

Pediatrician, parent and former Hollywood filmmaker Dr. Michael Rich helps navigate the new media age.

Boston, MA (Vocus) June 11, 2009 -- From cyberbullying and violent video games to social networking and sexting, parents are overwhelmed by the new media environment and how it affects their children. To help parents navigate this new and changing landscape, the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) at Children's Hospital Boston is launching Ask the Mediatrician . Pediatrician, former Hollywood filmmaker, parent, and CMCH founder Michael Rich, MD, MPH, will tackle any and all questions parents have related to media and their child's health.

"As with a child's nutritional diet, we need to be cognizant of what media our children are consuming and how it affects them," says Dr. Rich, also an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "At Ask the Mediatrician, we will provide parents with answers and recommendations rooted in science, not opinion."

Research shows that young people spend more time using media-TV, movies, music, computers, Internet, cell phones, magazines, and video games--than engaging in any other single activity except sleep. The media that children use and create are integral to their growing sense of selves, of the world, and of how they should interact with it. The influence of media has been linked to both negative health outcomes, such as smoking, obesity, sexual risk behaviors, eating disorders, anxiety, and violence, and to positive outcomes, such as positive social behavior, civic participation, tolerance, school readiness, knowledge acquisition, and improved self-image. These media effects are different for any given child.

The child's age, the content, context, and amount of media the child uses, and whether that use is active or critical need to be considered. Parents, teachers and others who work with children are encouraged to submit their questions at, where Dr. Rich will prescribe age-appropriate media use recommendations and alternatives. Having conducted research and having built the only comprehensive database of scientific evidence on the effects of media, Dr. Rich and colleagues understand how media influence the physical, mental, and social health of children. This research, both from CMCH and from around the world, will be the basis on which answers and recommendations will be provided.

"We recognize that kids love media and there are positive as well as negative effects on them," adds Dr. Rich. "This new resource will give them the knowledge of how they are affected and provide action steps for parents to take in their own home, consistent with their own families, to help raise happy and healthy kids in the Media Age."

The Center on Media and Child Health at Children's. founded in 2002, conducts, coordinates, and compiles scientific research to improve the understanding of how media affect children's health in positive and negative ways and to provide evidence-based expertise to initiatives and programs that address children's involvement with media. An affiliate of Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Children's Hospital Boston, CMCH has a staff of more than 40 people. For more information, visit For regular updates, subscribe to the CMCH blog at

Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 12 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 397-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research


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