This era of Netflicks and Hulu is also a time when young children may develop eating disorders. In a study from the journal Communication Research, University of Michigan researcher, Kristen Harrison, Ph.D., has shown television viewing to be correlated with both anorexic and bulimic symptoms.  Harrison observes that, “[t]here was a significant positive correlation between overall viewing (hours per week) and disordered eating symptoms,” among the 6-8 year old children studied. Overall television viewing was examined, which includes advertising.  “Dieting to lose weight is the norm on television, and children may glamorize it as a ‘grown up’ thing to do and thus start to do it themselves,” Harrison explains.  The study also suggests that children may engage in these copycat dieting and exercise behaviors before they internalize the message that the thin body is the socially ideal body.  Parents and teachers can minimize the impact of the diet-obsessed media by exposing children to alternative information.  They can demystify the thin ideal by teaching kids to become critical television viewers.  This weekend, instead of just asking, “What’s on?” kids should be taught to challenge the content and images of what’s on.  Instead of blithely accepting the standard thin network icon, children can learn to question its commercial motive.  Children need these TV savvy skills. Moreover, children should be encouraged to put down the remote and pick up a soccer ball.  A bad show lasts only 30 minutes, but a bad relationship with food may last a lifetime.

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!