Media Awareness Network and Canadian Paediatric Society Join Forces on Media's Impact on Health

OTTAWA (April 10, 2003)Media Awareness Network (MNet) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) today announced a unique partnership to raise awareness about the potential impact of media use and messages on the health and well-being of children and youth. Joining forces for the first time, the two organizations are developing the Media Pulse initiative, with funding from Health Canada’s Population Health Fund.

Media Pulse will help health professionals to understand the powerful influence of media in the lives of their young patients, become familiar with the current research and incorporate this knowledge into the practice setting.

“Canadian children and youth are growing up in a borderless media world, with easy access to television, movies, music, music videos and written materials from around the world via the Internet, wireless and other emerging technologies. In this new environment, the responsibility for ensuring children have a positive, enriching media experience is shifting from regulators and governments to parents, who need the support of the whole community,” says Jan D’Arcy, Executive Director of MNet. “We believe health professionals have an important role to play in considering media habits and influences in the health assessment of young patients and in communicating to parents the importance of their involvement,” Ms. D’Arcy explained.

Marie Adèle Davis, Executive Director of the Canadian Paediatric Society, agrees. “The health impacts of media can be profound. It can influence lifestyle choices and attitudes, and can contribute to sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, obesity, poor body image and low self-esteem, as well as risky sexual behaviour. Parents can be mediators and encourage kids to think about the messages in the media they enjoy.”

The Canadian Paediatric Society has long recognized the link between health and media. CPS first issued a position statement for its members on the topic, including advice for parents, in 1999. In light of the explosion in Internet use,that statement is being updated as part of the Media Pulse initiative and will be released this June.

The Media Pulse project also includes a guide for health practitioners. This handbook will present current research, provide physicians with an assessment tool for measuring media use in the home and offer practical tips for both physicians and parents. The guide will be distributed to over 15,500 paediatricians and family doctors with the May/June 2003 issue of Paediatrics & Child Health, the peer-reviewed journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society.

A Media Pulse professional development workshop will be presented at the Canadian Paediatric Society’s 2003 Annual General Meeting in Calgary, June 18-22, during which all project materials will be unveiled.

The Media Pulse project is guided by an advisory Committee whose members include:

  • Dr. Simon Davidson, Chief of Psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital for Eastern Ontario
  • Dr. Arlette Lefebvre, Staff Psychiatrist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
  • Dr. Patricia Morris, family physician practising in Ottawa
  • Dr. Peter Nieman, paediatrician at Alberta’s Children’s Hospital in Calgary

The CPS Psychosocial Paediatrics Committee is also lending its expertise to the project.

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For more information please contact:

Bill Allen
Media Awareness Network
 (613)224-7721

Melissa Jewett
Canadian Paediatric Society
melissaj@cps.ca
(613) 526-9397 ext. 234
(613) 850-4868 — (April 10 only)