Watch It!
What Parents Need to Know to Raise Media Smart Kids

Larson offers parents and those interested in the well-being of children and adolescents an advisory for media and the many "screens" kids confront daily. She explains how media stories -- e.g. how Arthur solves problems, or how the Powerpuff Girls beat back the forces of evil -- teach kids the ways of the world. The media that kids absorb includes "lessons" for how to operate in the real world.

Screens also show kids what to expect from the real world -- indeed MTV's Real World tells kids how older kids behave in the workplace, with roommates, and in their sex lives. While it is tempting to say, "My kids surely know that that is not how the real world works," most kids actually are affected by what they see on screens.

She also explains the connection between the media and health issues beyond childhood obesity -- e.g. the media impact on brain development, anorexia and bulimia, and the increasing incidence of such things as carpal tunnel syndrome in video game players.

Her advisory extends to the hazards of the internet -- the risks in MySpace pages, the placement of ads on Facebook pages, the easy access to pornography and the prevalence of pedophilia on the web.

Larson concludes every chapter with concrete steps you can take to counteract forces of the media. She also has one entire chapter devoted to "Media Literacy" -- the ways kids can unravel messages and protect themselves from the problematic effects of the media.

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Mary Strom Larson, Ed.D.© 2008