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Doctors urged to educate parents and children about healthy media habits
CALGARY (June 19, 2003) - Media today play a powerful role in the lives of young Canadians. And health care professionals now know that in addition to positive implications, media consumption may also be linked to health issues such as sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, obesity, poor body image and low self-esteem, and even risky sexual behaviour.
That's why the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and Media Awareness Network (MNet) have established MediaPulse, a national initiative to raise awareness among Canadian paediatricians and family physicians about young people's media culture. The project will provide practical information and advice to help physicians talk to patients and their families and encourage parental involvement.
"It's important to emphasize that, while there is evidence that some media can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of kids, media can also provide incredible opportunities for learning, growth and communication," says Calgary paediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman, principal author of Impact of media use on children and youth, a position statement released this week by the Canadian Paediatric Society. "We want physicians to help raise their patients' awareness and show them how to think critically about media messages."
The MediaPulse initiative includes a handbook for health practitioners, MediaPulse: Measuring the Media in Kids' Lives, released today during a news conference in Calgary at the CPS annual conference. The handbook presents current research and provides physicians with a media history form to help them measure media use and habits in their patients' homes. The guide also includes a practical tip sheet for physicians to give to parents.
The materials will be distributed to over 15,500 paediatricians and family doctors with the current issue of Paediatrics & Child Health, the official journal of the CPS. As well, a professional development workshop led by Dr. Nieman and Jan D'Arcy, executive director of MNet, will take place tomorrow at the CPS conference.
The Canadian Paediatric Society has long recognized the potential links between health and media, and first issued a position statement for their members on the topic, including advice for parents, in 1999. In light of the explosion of Internet use, the statement has been updated as part of the MediaPulse initiative. It has been published in a theme issue of Paediatrics & Child Health, along with advice for parents on managing media use in the home, as well as several articles from various experts in the field.
The Media Awareness Network believes that media literacy is an essential life skill for young people in today's media environment. This is the basis for MNet's pioneering media and Internet literacy programs and resources for parents, health care practitioners, educators and others working with children and youth.
"Parents need the support of the whole community to ensure their children have a positive, enriching media experience," says Jan D'Arcy. "We believe health professionals can play an important role by considering media habits and influences in the health assessment of young patients and communicating to parents the importance of their involvement."
Founded in 1922, the Canadian Paediatric Society (http://www.cps.ca) is a national advocacy association representing more than 2,000 paediatricians, paediatric residents and paediatric subspecialists across Canada. It promotes the health needs of children and youth.
The Media Awareness Network - MNet (www.media-awareness.ca) is a non-profit Canadian organization whose mission is to support media education and its widest possible integration into Canadian schools, homes and communities. MNet's work is funded by public and private sector partners, including Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada, Bell Canada, Rogers Cable Inc., AOL Canada Inc., Microsoft Canada, BCE Inc., CanWest Global, CTV Inc., CHUM Television, TELUS, Craig Broadcast Systems Inc., Canadian Recording Industry Association.
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Complementary copies of any of the materials mentioned above are available for journalists. To request copies, please contact Candice Cartier at (613) 526-9397, ext. 247. They are also available on the Internet at http://www.cps.ca and www.media-awareness.ca
For more information please contact:
Media Awareness Network
On-site in Calgary:
Canadian Paediatric Society
Cell: (613) 850-4868 (June 16-20)
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