"Media has an opportunity to continue doing the same old thing, which is to have an adverse effect on child development, or turn it around and shape attitudes and behavior that could have a positive effect on child development," Delamater said.
The statement contains a number of recommendations for parents, physicians and the media.
"We want physicians to ask two media questions at every well-child visit: how much entertainment screen time per day does the child engage in, and is there a TV set or Internet connection in his or her bedroom," said Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "That takes 20 seconds and may be more important than asking about childproofing or car seats or bicycle helmets."
The authors of the statement ideally would like ads for erectile dysfunction drugs to not be shown on TV until after 10 p.m.
"Half a billion dollars of ads for erectile dysfunction drugs and virtually no ads for birth control pills or condoms or emergency contraception," Strasburger said. "There's not a single shred of evidence that exposing kids to birth control ads or even making birth control available to them makes them sexually active at a younger age. We're doing things completely backwards."
There should also be more attention paid to how kids use social networking sites on the Internet. And parents can use media story lines as teaching tools to discuss sex with their children, instead of having "the big talk," the statement said.
On the more idealistic side, the statement also recommends that advertisers no longer use sex to sell a wide range of products.
"We want parents to realize that kids are spending more time with media than in any other activity but sleeping, and that the media represents a powerful source of information and in this case a powerful sex educator," Strasburger said. <
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