Tag Archives: Media and Children

Pediatrics study: TV Ratings System Downplays Sex, Violence, Smoking

30 Aug

Some one told moi a story about a woman who wanted to introduce her 12 year old son to culture. The way she set about the introduction was to buy tickets for the entire Ring by Wagner. Perhaps, her son thoroughly enjoyed the Ring. More likely, he probably developed a hatred for opera. About the time that school starts around the beginning of September, many arts organizations begin their season. It is good to introduce your child to all types of artistic endeavors, but one should chose wisely by looking for cues as to what the child’s interests are and having an awareness of content. Barbara J. Wilson, Ph.D. wrote the thoughtful article, What’s Wrong with the Ratings? http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/whats-wrong-ratings

Education News reported in Report: TV Ratings System Downplays Sex, Violence, Smoking:

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the TV rating system currently in place in the United States is inaccurate and does not always reflect the true amount of violence, smoking, and drinking occurring in television shows.

The study found TV Parental Guidelines ratings to be ineffective in three out of the four behaviors studied.  In addition, at least one risk factor was noted in every show, including shows for children as young as seven.

In all, researchers looked at 17 TV shows for instances of violence, sexual behavior, alcohol use, and smoking.  Findings suggest shows that held a rating of TV-Y7, intended for children age seven or older, had similar levels of violence as shows rated TV-MA, meant for mature audiences only.

“From prior research, we know that youth between 8 and 18 years consume, on average, 7.5 hours a day of media content,” said Joy Gabrielli, lead author of the study and a clinical child psychologist at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

Gabrielli added that young children and teens watch shows on televisions as well as on additional forms of digital media, such as telephones and tablets.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated the creation of a TV rating system and a hardware, or V-chip, that would allow parents to block any questionable content.  As a result, the TV Parental Guidelines were created in addition to a monitoring board to ensure accuracy, uniformity, and consistency of the guidelines, reports Susan Scutti for CNN.

Violence was found in 70% of all episodes looked at for at least 2.3 seconds per episode minute.  Meanwhile alcohol was seen in 58% of episodes for 2.3 seconds per minute, sexual behavior in 53% of shows for 0.26 seconds per minute, and smoking in 31% of shows for 0.54 seconds per minute.

Shows rated TV-Y7 were found to show significantly less substance abuse.  However, other rating categories did not discriminate substance use as well, which was seen as much in shows rated TV-14 as they were in shows rated TV-MA.

TV ratings were found to be the most effective for sexual behavior and gory violence.


See, TV rating system not accurate, little help to parents, study says     http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/health/tv-ratings-not-accurate-parents/


Advertising Disclaimer »


August 2016

Industry Television Ratings for Violence, Sex, and Substance Use

Joy Gabrielli, Aminata Traore, Mike Stoolmiller, Elaina Bergamini, James D. Sargent

Download PDF


OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the industry-run television (TV) Parental Guidelines discriminate on violence, sexual behavior, alcohol use, and smoking in TV shows, to assess their usefulness for parents.

METHODS: Seventeen TV shows (323 episodes and 9214 episode minutes) across several TV show rating categories (TVY7, TVPG, TV14, and TVMA) were evaluated. We content-coded the episodes, recording seconds of each risk behavior, and we rated the salience of violence in each one. Multilevel models were used to test for associations between TV rating categories and prevalence of risk behaviors across and within episodes or salience of violence.

RESULTS: Every show had at least 1 risk behavior. Violence was pervasive, occurring in 70% of episodes overall and for 2.3 seconds per episode minute. Alcohol was also common (58% of shows, 2.3 seconds per minute), followed by sex (53% of episodes, 0.26 seconds per minute), and smoking (31% of shows, 0.54 seconds per minute). TV Parental Guidelines did not discriminate prevalence estimates of TV episode violence. Although TV-Y7 shows had significantly less substance use, other categories were poor at discriminating substance use, which was as common in TV-14 as TV-MA shows. Sex and gory violence were the only behaviors demonstrating a graded increase in prevalence and salience for older-child rating categories.

CONCLUSIONS: TV Parental Guidelines ratings were ineffective in discriminating shows for 3 out of 4 behaviors studied. Even in shows rated for children as young as 7 years, violence was prevalent, prominent, and salient. TV ratings were most effective for identification of sexual behavior and gory violence.

What’s Known on This Subject:

A voluntary, industry-run TV Parental Guidelines rating system has existed for 20 years to help parents decide which shows are appropriate for children; yet the usefulness of TV ratings in discriminating shows on risk-behavior depiction remains unclear.

What This Study Adds:

Violence was prevalent across all shows, regardless of rating, so parents could not rely on TV Parental Guidelines to screen for this behavior. Only TV-7 consistently predicted lower levels of sex, alcohol, or tobacco, compared with TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA.

Almost 20 years have passed since Congress approved the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In Section 551 (“Parental Choice in Television Programming”), Congress noted: (1) “television influences children’s perceptions of values and behavior common and acceptable in society,” (2) “television shows expose children to many depictions of violence,” (3) “children so exposed are prone to see violence as acceptable and have greater tendency for aggressive behavior,” (4) “casual treatment of sexual material on television erodes parental ability to develop responsible attitudes and behavior in their children,” (5) “parents express grave concern over violent and sexual programming,” and (6) “there is compelling governmental interest in empowering parents to limit these negative influences.”1 Congress instructed the telecommunications industry to develop a television (TV) ratings system and TV manufacturers to integrate hardware (the V-chip) to allow parents to block objectionable content

The TV industry responded that year with the TV Parental Guidelines, structured around a similar self-regulatory system previously developed for motion pictures. Shows are rated by the companies that produce them and classified into rating categories based on content and appropriateness for different age groups. The industry established a TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to “ensure accuracy, uniformity, and consistency of the guidelines.”2 The rating categories were integrated into programming to allow parents to see the rating for each show and to block by rating (or channel) using V-chip technology.

In the ensuing 20 years, research confirms the prescience of Congress’ expressed concerns. Studies have identified relations between viewing media violence and aggression in children.3,4 Prospective studies have strengthened the notion that viewing sexual content on TV affects risky sexual behavior among adolescents and increases the risk of teen pregnancy.5,6 Moreover, studies have documented a robust relation between seeing depictions of smoking and drinking in movies and youth substance use.710 Subsequently, concerns about media effects on youth behavior appear even more justified by the science, and research suggests that parental guidelines should include behaviors beyond sex and violence, such as alcohol and tobacco use.11

As stated in their own documentation, the TV industry recognized that the usefulness of the TV Parental Guidelines for informing parents would be based in part on their “accuracy, uniformity and consistency.”2 In a literature search on “TV Parental Guidelines” we were able to identify studies that either examined, through content coding, the presence of various risk behaviors1214 or how parents perceive and use the ratings system,1517 but were surprised to find limited tests of its accuracy, uniformity, or consistency across risk behaviors. The present research is a first attempt to quantify violence, sex, and alcohol and tobacco use in a sample of TV programs according to the TV Parental Guideline rating category.


We selected TV shows across 4 rating categories (ie, TV-Y7, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA) as defined by the TV Parental Guidelines.2 TV-Y7 is defined as being “directed to older children” (age 7 years and above). TV-PG is defined as “parental guidance suggested” and may “contain material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children.” TV-14 is denoted as “parents strongly cautioned,” as it is a program that “contains material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age.” TV-MA is listed as “mature audience only,” because it is a program “specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17.” Seven shows were purposively chosen because they were popular with youth (identified through the Nielsen list of shows most popular with youth aged 12–17 years), and 10 other shows were purposively chosen given the high likelihood of the presence of risk behaviors with the intent to maximize statistical power to find TV rating effects, if they existed. The 17 shows (154 hours across 323 episodes) with descriptions of air times, ratings, and episodes are provided in Table 1.


Listing of TV Program Sample


Here is the Pediatrics statement on media:

Media and Children

Media is everywhere. TV, Internet, computer and video games all vie for our children’s attention. Information on this page can help parents understand the impact media has in our children’s lives, while offering tips on managing time spent with various media. The AAP has recommendations for parents and pediatricians.

Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. To help kids make wise media choices, parents should monitor their media diet. Parents can make use of established ratings systems for shows, movies and games to avoid inappropriate content, such as violence, explicit sexual content or glorified tobacco and alcohol use.

Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.

By limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children’s media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.

The AAP recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.

Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.

Additional Resources


Here is the press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

TV Ratings on Sex, Violence and Substance Abuse Offer Little Help to Parents


Research shows there is a relationship between young people seeing sexual content on television and the risk of teen pregnancy, seeing violence and teen aggression, and seeing depictions of smoking and drinking and youth substance use, which is why the US Congress asked the entertainment industry to develop a TV Parental Guidelines rating system over 20 years ago. However, a study conducted by researchers at the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth and published in the September 2016 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 22), “Industry Television Ratings for Violence, Sex and Substance Use,” shows these industry ratings were ineffective in warning parents about content that might not be appropriate for children to view. Researchers compared 323 episodes of 17 television shows for sex, violence, smoking and drinking, and found that only sex and gore were demonstrably more prevalent in mature rated shows. All other risk behaviors were pervasive across most rating categories, especially interpersonal violence (occurring in 70 percent of episodes) and alcohol use (in 58 percent of shows), but also smoking (31 percent). Study authors concluded that in this sample of shows, the ratings system did little to help parents discriminate and limit exposure to these behaviors. More research is needed across more television shows to monitor and improve the TV Parental Guidelines.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.


What Questions Should a Parent Ask a Venue About Content?

Does a particular venue have a ratings system for content?

What is the model for the ratings system? Is it like film ratings or ESRB?

How descriptive is the rating system, does it give examples of the type of language or situation which might be problematic?

Where is the rating for each production listed? Is it in the descriptive brochure? Is this information on the web site? Are box office personnel familiar with the ratings?

If a family has concerns about a particular production, how should concerns be addressed to the venue if the family finds the production does not match the rating description?

Families have different viewpoints about what is appropriate content for their child or children. Some families seek out a variety of experiences for their children while others are more restrained in what they feel is appropriate. All families need to ask questions about content to find what is appropriate for their child and their value system.

Where Information Leads to Hope ©     Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:



Dr. Wilda Reviews ©


Dr. Wilda ©




Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance

1 Nov

Moi wrote in Study: Children subject to four hours background television daily:

Let’s make this short and sweet. Park your kid in front of the television and you will probably be raising an overweight idiot. Tara Parker-Pope has a great post at the New York Times blog. In the post, TV For Toddlers Linked With Later Problems Parker-Pope reports:

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.

The study of more than 1,300 Canadian schoolchildren tracked the amount of television children were watching at the ages of about 2 and 5. The researchers then followed up on the children in fourth grade to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.

On average, the schoolchildren were watching about nine hours of television each week as toddlers. The total jumped to about 15 hours as they approached 5 years of age. The average level of television viewing shown in the study falls within recommended guidelines. However, 11 percent of the toddlers were exceeding two hours a day of television viewing.

For those children, each hour of extra TV exposure in early childhood was associated with a range of issues by the fourth grade, according to the report published in the May issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades. They suffered about 10 percent more bullying by classmates and were less likely to be physically active on weekends. They consumed about 10 percent more soft drinks and snacks and had body mass index scores that were about 5 percent higher than their peers.

Well duh, people. You probably already knew this. Guess why you have feet attached to your legs? So, you and the kids can walk around the neighborhood and the park. Better yet, why don’t you encourage your children to play. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/16/play-is-as-important-for-children-as-technology/


Teachers were surveyed about how how home media choices affect a child’ ability to learn.

Here is the press release from Common Sense Media:

Entertainment Media Diets of Children and Adolescents May Impact Learning

Teachers cite negative effect on students’ attention spans, writing, and face-to-face communication

For immediate release

Thursday, November 1, 2012

San Francisco, CA — A new study on the role of media and technology in kids’ lives reveals that many teachers suspect the quantity and quality of kids’ at-home media choices may be negatively impacting their in-class performance.

The report, “Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View from the Classroom,” is the latest research from Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media. Based on a nationally representative survey of 685 classroom teachers, the findings include:

  • 71% of teachers believe students’ entertainment media use — the TV shows, video games, texting, and social networking they do for fun at home — has hurt students’ attention spans “a lot” or “somewhat”;
  • 59% believe such media use has hurt students’ abilities to communicate face to face;
  • 58% say students’ writing skills have been negatively impacted by their use of entertainment media; and
  • Nearly half of teachers (48%) believe students’ media use has hurt the quality of their homework.

These concerns about the impact of entertainment media on students’ academic skills were consistent whether the teachers described themselves as “tech-savvy” or less comfortable with new media; whether they were new to the classroom or teaching veterans; and whether they taught at high- or low-income schools. Among teachers who say their students’ academic skills have mainly been hurt by entertainment media, more than two-thirds point the finger at video games (68%) and texting (66%).

At the same time, 63% of teachers say entertainment media has helped students hone their ability to find information quickly and efficiently, and 34% say it has helped students’ ability to multi-task effectively.  

“The social, emotional, and cognitive impact of media and technology on our kids is of paramount importance to Common Sense Media,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO, Common Sense Media. “We know that our children learn from the media they consume. This survey is yet another reminder of how critical it is to consistently guide our kids to make good media choices and balance the amount of time they spend with any media and all of their other activities.”

In terms of social development, more than two-thirds of teachers (67%) believe that entertainment media has a “very” or “somewhat” negative impact on students’ sexualization, and 61% say the same about students’ ideas about relationships between boys and girls. Among teachers who believe students’ social development has been negatively affected by entertainment media, the blame falls primarily on television (71%), movies (61%), music (56%), and social networking (55%). In comments throughout the online survey, several teachers noted a positive impact from entertainment media on students’ engagement with the world and their exposure to diverse viewpoints.  

“There have been several important surveys of teachers about the use of media and technology as a learning tool in the classroom, but few, if any, that explore what teachers think about the impact of media use by students at home,” said Vicky Rideout, president of VJR Consulting, who authored the study for Common Sense Media. “Teachers’ opinions are important because besides parents, teachers are the adults who spend the greatest amount of time with children and adolescents every day.”

While the survey offers educators’ unique and important perspective on entertainment media use and academic performance and social development, it does not quantify academic achievement and correlate results with children’s patterns of media use. For more information about the key findings of this survey, or for details about the Program for the Study of Children and Media, visit www.commonsense.org/research.

The report is based on a survey of 685 public and private K-12 classroom teachers in the U.S. It was conducted for Common Sense Media by Knowledge Networks, now a part of GfK Group, from May 5-17, 2012. The survey was conducted online among a nationally representative sample of teachers who had been recruited to the online panel through probability-based sampling methods including address-based sampling and random-digit-dial telephone surveys. “Entertainment media” was defined as the TV shows, music, video games, texting, iPods, cell phone games, social networking sites, apps, computer programs, online videos, and websites students use for fun outside of school. The exact question wording is included in the full report, along with many verbatim comments from individual teachers.    

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, visit: www.commonsense.org.

Press Contacts
Crista Sumanik

Julia Plonowski


Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media: The View From The Classroom

A Common Sense Media Research Study – NEW REPORT

November 1, 2012

A national survey of teachers about the role of entertainment media in students’ academic and social development.

Read the summary

Download the full report

Some parents use television and technology as a substitute for appropriate childcare.

In Television cannot substitute for quality childcare, moi wrote:           Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Is Television the New Secondhand Smoke?

Prior research suggests background television can have a “chronic disruptive impact on very young children’s behavior.” Studies have linked background television to less focused play among toddlers, poorer parent-child interaction, and interference with older students’ ability to do homework.

For every minute of television to which children are directly exposed, there are an
additional 3 minutes of indirect exposure, making background exposure a much greater
proportion of time in a young child’s day,” the study noted.

Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children’s exposure with just under 4 hours of exposure each day,” Lapierre said in a statement on the study. Lapierre and his fellow researchers recommended that parents, teachers and early childcare providers turn off televisions when no one is watching a particular program and that parents prevent children from keeping a television in their rooms.

It’s easy to think about this as just one more alarm about how our modern media environment is ruining our kids. Yet the more interesting take-away from this field of research is how critical it is for children to learn actively and socially. Children learn from adults speaking to, with and around them, and from actively engaging with their world.

Anything that limits or distracts from that active interaction can be a problem, but not an insurmountable one. For example, researchers at the University of Washington’s Learning in Formal and Informal Environments, or LIFE, Center, is doing some fascinating work on the potential benefits of interactive media. There’s also been some interesting work on using video conferencing to read with children. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/04/is_television_the_new_secondha.html?intc=es

If watching television is not an appropriate activity for toddlers, then what are appropriate activities? The University of Illinois Extension has a good list of Age-Based Activities For Toddlers

See, How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute. https://drwilda.com/2012/04/23/television-cannot-substitute-for-quality-childcare/


UK study: Overexposure to technology makes children miserable https://drwilda.com/2012/10/31/uk-study-overexposure-to-technology-makes-children-miserable/

Study: Teens who are ‘sexting’ more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior                                                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/09/17/study-teens-who-are-sexting-more-likely-to-engage-in-risky-sexual-behavior/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART © http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                        http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                   https://drwilda.com/

Should there be advertising in schools?

10 Nov

Joanna Lin of California Watch has written an interesting article which was posted at Huffington Post. In the article, Corporate Sponsorship In Schools Can Harm Students, Experts Say, Lin describes how cash strapped districts are using ad dollars to make up budget shortfalls.

For schools facing shrinking budgets, a branded scoreboard on the football field or advertisement on a school bus can bring some much-needed cash. But such corporate sponsorships also could undermine students’ critical thinking skills, education policy experts warn.

While commercialism in schools can directly harm students — marketing sodas and candy undermines nutrition curriculums, for instance — it also might discourage students from thinking critically about the brands, messages or topics sponsored in their schools, according to a report released by the National Education Policy Center.


The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe.

Amy Aidman lists the types of advertising in schools in the article, Advertising in the Schools.


“Captive Kids,” a new report by the CUES (1995) summarizes the routes of commercial messages into schools, examines some of those messages, and discusses the meaning of the enormous influx of corporate-produced materials into the schools. The report, which is a follow-up to the earlier report, “Selling America’s Kids” (CUES, 1990), divides the examples of in-school commercialism into four categories:

IN-SCHOOL ADS. In-school ads are conspicuous forms of advertising that can be seen on billboards, on school buses, on scoreboards, and in school hallways. In-school ads include ads on book covers and in piped-in radio programming. Advertising is also found in product coupons and in give-aways that are distributed in schools.

ADS IN CLASSROOM MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS. Ads in classroom materials include any commercial messages in magazines or video programming used in school. The ads in “Channel One” fall into this category.

CORPORATE-SPONSORED EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS. Promotional messages appearing in sponsored educational materials may be more subtle than those in the previous categories. Sponsored educational materials include free or low-cost items which can be used for instruction. These teaching aids may take the form of multimedia teaching kits, videotapes, software, books, posters, reproducible activity sheets, and workbooks. While some of these materials may be ad-free, others may contain advertising for the producer of the item, or they may contain biased information aimed at swaying students toward a company’s products or services.

CORPORATE-SPONSORED CONTESTS AND INCENTIVE PROGRAMS. Contests and incentive programs bring brand names into the schools along with the promise of such rewards as free pizzas, cash, points toward buying educational equipment, or trips and other prizes.

Here is the complete citation:

ERIC Identifier: ED389473
Publication Date: 1995-12-00
Author: Aidman, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.  http://www.ericdigests.org/1996-3/advertising.htm

Advertising, if it is allowed in schools, must be handled with great care. It is not just the ads, it is the values that the individual ad and the totality of all ads represent. It is imperative that schools look at their values before approving ads. For example, are the ads promoting healthy nutrition and eating habits? Are the ads promoting an unrealistic body image for adolescents? Are the ads promoting a purely materialistic lifestyle which encourages purchases of high priced clothing, electronics, or vehicles which are not in line with the income of most children? Are the ads in line with the school or district’s mission statement?

Schools are looking at the fast buck situation and they are like many states who are looking at gambling and other “sin” activities to fill empty coffers. Problem is that with many fast buck remedies: “easy come, easy go.”

It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. The real answer is to fully fund education.


NEA Today: Cash-Strapped Schools Open Their Doors to Advertising http://neatoday.org/2011/11/03/cash-strapped-schools-open-their-doors-to-advertising/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©