Media Influence on Children

Believing that children are exposed to too much media, some have called for increased scrutiny of the types and amounts of media children see, including films, television, games and advertisements, as well as the impact of media on childhood development.

AAF Position
The AAF supports research on child health but believes there has already been considerable scrutiny in this area. Many proposals duplicate work already completed. The Institute of Medicine released two comprehensive studies in the past two years, and the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Health and Human Services released their final report on the July 2005 workshop on marketing to children. Additionally, the FTC is conducting a survey on the magnitude of media and advertising for food products directed to children. Many private and nonprofit groups have conducted surveys and other research over the past 30 years.

Supporters of the children and media research, including child advocacy groups and media critics, allege that children spend more time interacting with media than ever before and that a comprehensive study on children and media is crucial. Advocates often have anti-media and anti-advertising biases. These critics point to increased rates of childhood obesity as a key reason to investigate media, even as countless other studies find no link between media exposure and obesity. Any new study needs to have a balanced approach.

Senators Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, along with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps, have convened a task force on media and childhood obesity and are in discussions with major food and media companies and trade associations. AAF President & CEO Wally Snyder represents the AAF on the task force.

S. 1902: Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA Act). Introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., October 20, 2005. This bill would have provided $90 million to fund a study on children and the media within the Centers for Disease Control, focusing on amounts and kinds of media children are exposed to and the impact of media on their development. S. 1902 had five co-sponsors and was passed by the Senate but never received a House vote.

Last updated: August 2007

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