Overwhelming Evidence

Why Is It So Hard to Believe That Media Influence Children and Adolescents? Pediatrics, April 1, 2014.

A short scholarly article in the journal Pediatrics that gives an overview of the ill effects of the media on kids. The articles also outlines why the messages of the the academic world are not penetrating the world of the American family.

First, as the writers point out, the literature is immense and extensive in a number of areas of concern for kids, most notably in the areas of violence, sex, drugs and alcohol consumption, obesity, depression, body image and eating disorders. To be sure, other factors play major roles, including parenting, family stress, socioeconomic status, etc. But the impact of the media on these areas of concern for kids is real and considerable.

As the authors of the article aptly point out, the relationship between media violence and real-life aggression is stronger than the causal effect of asbestos on cancer, secondhand smoke on lung cancer, and lead exposure on cognitive functioning.

So why does this message of connections between the media and many ill effects on the health of children not get through? The authors give many answers, including the simple fact that many kids enjoy the media and so how could it be having ill effects?

Another reason is that the media itself under-report the existing research and even present it as a debate, especially since a few academics offer some evidence in the opposite direction in order to promote themselves and their research.

Further, Hollywood knows that billions are at stake and so naturally are involved in sheer denial.