May 31, 2008

Can video games be good?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced last week that they are funding research to answer an interesting question: can video games be positive for the health and well being of adults and kids?

According to AOL News, some of the research being funded includes:

  • a Cornell University study on "how a mobile phone game rewarding healthy eating and exercise will influence children's behavior"
  • a University of Florida study to look at "how playing Playstation 2's "Crazy Taxi" affects perception in the elderly"
  • a University of South Carolina study "to investigate the potential for using video games such as Wii and EyeToy to help people recover their motor skills after experiencing a stroke"
As Debra Lieberman, a researcher from UC Santa Barbara, said in the article: "A good game, or a game where you could actually learn some skills or develop some self-confidence could displace some of the more time-wasting video games that are out there. That could be a win-win in many ways."

While video games do get a bad rap in the health care world, I'm of the opinion we have to admit there are here to stay and find a way to include them in a healthy life style. If these studies help us advice people to do that better, how can we argue otherwise? What do you think? Email me at and let me know.


May 30, 2008

Tomorrow Is World No Tobacco Day

Tomorrow's World No Tobacco Day has a media theme: Tobacco-Free Youth: Break the Tobacco Marketing Net.According to the AAP website,

"The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars worldwide on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Recent data from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey indicate an increase in tobacco use among adolescent girls in many countries. Much of this increase has been attributed to aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry, which encourages potential users, especially adolescents, to try tobacco and become long-term consumers.
Evidence-based tobacco-control strategies that are comprehensive, sustained, and support nonsmoking behaviors have been shown to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls on countries to implement scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its impact. Additional information on World No Tobacco Day 2008 activities is available at"

The WHO interactive World No Tobacco Day website is worth exploring. Shaped like a web, it has buttons for each media industry that will take you to a page that then explains how that industry markets tobacco to youth. TV, movies, billboards, cultural events, sporting events, are among the many media venues listed in this web.

The AAP press release on World No Tobacco Day is worth reading, too. You'll find some interesting stats as well as ways the AAP has already worked with media groups to decrease the exposure of youth to tobacco.

Image: WHO Website

May 28, 2008

Welcome To Our Child Health Media Blog!

Welcome to the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media blog! This blog is for you - COCM pediatricians who are already interested in media issues impacting the lives of today's children and families.

In this space, we will develop together an amazing array or resources to help each other become better communicators with our patient's and their parents about media issues and better advocates in the community about the importance of media issues on the lives of kids and families.

The list of potential topics is endless but some that jump to mind include:
  • current media studies
  • announcements about media-related conferences and meetings
  • ideas for talks and lectures on media issues
  • social media tips and nuts and bolts: including how to blog!
  • media tips to help each other interface with the media better in print, online, radio and TV
  • our work in action: ways we, COCM pediatricians, have done what we can to use the media to improve the health and well being of children whether it be to talk to a local reporter in our home town or to work nationally on an AAP campaign.
Some rules for the road. I'll be doing all the posting but welcome guest posts often. I can post daily, once a week or once a month. It all depends on what is happening in the media world and what you send me. So, feel free to get as involved as you'd like with this blog. I welcome you all to become my assistant editors in this amazing journey.

Don't forget to check out our regular COCM website once in a while. And, if you have an idea for a blog post, drop me an email at


Dr. Gwenn
AAP COCM Web Site and Blog

Image: AAP COCM website