Center on Media and Child Health researchers build upon the established body of research on media and health to investigate associations between media use and children’s physical and mental health outcomes.
We are currently leading and collaborating on several projects with researchers across the United States, including:
Video Intervention Prevention Assessment (VIA)
Video Intervention Prevention Assessment (VIA)
At this time, VIA staff have recently completed data collection on VIA-Transitions, an eight year study of young people with cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, spina bifida, and perinatally acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Data analysis is continuing on this project.
VIA staff are also currently collecting data for VIA-OAR, a study with youth who are overweight, at-risk for overweight, or normal weighted. This study will contribute to our understanding of how young people between the ages of 12 and 20 balance nutrition and exercise.
CMCH researchers have piloted a new method for investigating media exposure in youth. Combining techniques of momentary sampling and video capture, this method is more sensitive to the variety of media used, more responsive to media multitasking, and more accurate in its capture of both media content and usage time.
CMCH Resources for Parents and Teachers
CMCH Database of Research
In over 50 years of research, media effects have been examined in at least eleven disciplines: medicine, psychology, public health, communication, education, anthropology, sociology, social work, criminal justice, business, and gender studies. Researchers have historically focused just on the literature of their field and have not been exposed to the extent of what has been completed across all fields.
The CMCH Database of Research is a work in progress aiming to collect and catalog all available research on media effects on child health. The database currently contains over 2,200 citations and we have at least 1,000 additional citations currently in process to be uploaded.
CMCH designed a research project to evaluate the in-school curriculum created by Connect with Kids to increase the pro-social behaviors of children and young adolescents. The study was implemented in DC area schools during the 2006-2007 school year, and will evaluate the effectiveness of adding a broadcast, at-home viewing experience to an in-school media-based character development program.
Marie Evans Schmidt is conducting research to develop clinical interventions to encourage healthy media use behaviors among families with infants.
CMCH collaborated with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, DARE, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the US Department of Justice to develop, implement, and evaluate a program to help parents protect their children from Internet predators. The program was awarded funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
CMCH has presented an interactive student workshop on body image and media to towns in Massachusetts. The presentation includes an overview of how advertising works, how women and men are typically presented in the media, and how kids can deconstruct media to understand them better.
A workshop on media violence is in the works, and a workshop on substance use and media was created with funding from The Cabot Family Charitable Trust.
CMCH researchers continue to analyze a national data set on the influence of media on the development of bullying and victimization in school, a major problem in itself and a contributor to school shootings.
With funding from the Aerosmith foundation, CMCH is collecting and cataloging all research on how media affects sexual behavior so that it may be entered into the CMCH Database of Research. Using research-based information, we have created website resources for parents on this topic.
Funded by the Aerosmith Foundation, this study examines the relationship between teenagers’ media use and their sexual behavior. Specifically, we expect to find that teens’ exposure to sexual content on television and in movies is associated with their beliefs about romantic and sexual relationships. In turn, these beliefs are predicted to correlate with teens’ sexual behavior, including condom and contraceptive use.
CMCH collaborated with MediaSmart, a program of Child Health Services in Manchester, NH, to implement and evaluate media literacy interventions on violence, substance use, and obesity as part of the health curricula in Manchester elementary schools. We found that after the program, participants were better at recognizing the effects of media. A second year, more rigorous study is planned.
Our researchers are also moving forward in the development of a broad intervention and research infrastructure in Manchester, NH, which includes collaboration with local schools, the health department, hospitals, courts, and community programs. When complete, to the project will implement the new media exposure instrument with young people across the community and measure a wide variety of physical, mental and social health outcomes through a comprehensive outcomes database.
Body Image and Reality Television
In collaboration with Harris Interactive, CMCH researchers designed and implemented a nation-wide survey of children and adolescents investigating the relationships between reality TV viewing, character identification, and issues pertaining to body image.
Media and Risky Behavior
Our researchers continue to analyze data from an anonymous survey of Boston area high school students to determine the relationship between their media use (television, movies, and video games) and risky social and health behaviors including bullying, carrying a weapon to school, fighting, substance use, smoking, and sexual behaviors.
CMCH staff are conducting a follow-up to Dr. Rich's 2001 study of what pediatricians-in-training are taught about media effects to learn whether and where progress has been made.