In a matter of seconds, most children can mimic a movie or TV character, sing an advertising jingle, or give examples of what they have learned from the media. Sadly, these examples may include naming a popular brand of beer, striking a sexy pose, or play fighting. Children only have to put a movie in the VCR, open a magazine, click on a website, or watch TV to experience all kinds of messages. Media offers entertainment, culture, news, sports, and education. Media is an important part of children and teenager's lives and TV has much to offer. But some of what it offers may not be what parents want their children to learn. Sometimes you can see the impact of media right away, such as when children watch superheroes fighting and then they copy their moves during play. But most of the time the impact is not so immediate or obvious.
It occurs slowly as children see and hear certain messages over and over. Children who witness violence on a daily basis are much more likely to solve conflicts in a violent way. Children and teenagers who identify with the sophisticated cool and the attraction of cigarettes and alcohol don not see them as unhealthy or deadly. How sex has no negative results, such has a disease or a unintended pregnancy. Whatever form they take ads, movies, computer games, music videos, messages can be good or bad for children and teenagers. Just as parents limit certain foods, parents should limit their media diet of certain messages.
Children spend so many hours watching television, playing video games and the like, that media use could qualify as a part-time job. The Kaiser Family Foundations found that the typical American child spends more than 38 hours a week as a "media consumer".