The first annual Kids and Media conference Beyond Primetime kicks off today in New York. Sponsored by the excellent web resource CommonSenseMedia.org, I hope to see a lot of discussion floating around the media and the blogsphere about kids and the media as a result of this conference.
Unlike other events of this type, this one seems a tad different in that the discussion of kids and media use is framed by the context of media use being a public health issue, rather than a social or moral issue. That’s not to say that health is not a social or moral issue, but it’s refreshing to see the context of healthy kids being used to frame the issue of media consumption by kids.
It’s not hard to see the correlation between increased media consumption and health problems in kids. In Canada, rates of childhood obesity have almost tripled over the past 20 years.
The correlation goes beyond speculation that there might be links between media consumption and health. There are direct links. Children who watch more than five hours of TV per day are four-and-a-half times more likely to become overweight than those who watch two hours or less, and kids who watch more than two hours of television a day are more likely to smoke and have high cholesterol.
Which is why conferences like this one are important.
The speaker list is an impressive who’s who list of academics, CEO’s and NGO’s covering all aspects of the media landscape. If you happen to live in New York, you might be interested in checking this conference out.