"Big Four" Highlights


Kids Online

Pediatricians outline dangers of digital excess

The negative effect of pornography on children is something we should be able to figure out without an academic study, but it’s always good to find statistics to support common sense. The American College of Pediatricians recently released a statement on the effects of porn on kids, drawing on the best available data. The summary of the statement makes obvious but sobering points:

“The availability and use of pornography has become almost ubiquitous among adults and adolescents. Consumption of pornography is associated with many negative emotional, psychological, and physical health outcomes. These include increased rates of depression, anxiety, acting out and violent behavior, younger age of sexual debut, sexual promiscuity, increased risk of teen pregnancy, and a distorted view of relationships between men and women. For adults, pornography results in an increased likelihood of divorce which is also harmful to children.”

Bottom line: It’s all bad. Keep your kids away from porn. Yet with easy web access, and the reluctance of so many parents to monitor their kids’ media use, young people today can tap into the most suggestive, depraved and violent content with a few finger swipes of their iPhones. The common age for children viewing porn online is under 13.

(View the ACP statement.)

A larger medical group, the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently published another statement called “Media and Young Minds,” which warns doctors, parents and industry leaders about the downside to media use for children. Without even mentioning the effects of negative content, the AAP says that simply the extended use of digital media can have harmful effects on children and adolescents in the areas of weight control, attention span, social interaction, character development and poor “executive functioning,” i.e., decision making.

The statement concludes:

“As digital technologies become more ubiquitous, pediatric providers must guide parents not only on the duration and content of media their child uses, but also on (1) creating unplugged spaces and times in their homes, because devices can now be taken anywhere; (2) the ability of new technologies to be used in social and creative ways; and (3) the importance of not displacing sleep, exercise, play, reading aloud, and social interactions.”

Digital media has become a major health concern for young people. Parents must become informed as they monitor their children’s online habits. They should discipline their own media use as they guide their kids in healthy and creative ways to engage the digital world.

(View the AAP statement.)