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MS. ASCH-GOODKIN is a contributing editor for <italic>Contemporary Pediatrics</italic>.
In a revised policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is voicing the ire many parents feel about tasteless advertisements shown on television at hours when children are likely to be watching. The AAP is particularly outraged by ads for erectile dysfunction remedies, and is urging parents and pediatricians to pressure TV outlets to cease airing them before 10 p.m. After all, the organization points out, birth control ads are rarely if ever seen on the tube during prime time, despite considerable evidence that advertising contraceptives could lower the teen pregnancy rates without encouraging teen sexual activity. And if there's no room for birth control ads when the kids might be watching, there's surely no excuse for promoting ED remedies in scenarios that portray sexual intercourse as a recreational activity.
Sex isn't the only subject that provokes the AAP. Advertising also makes a significant contribution to childhood obesity, poor nutrition, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use. To counteract these slick ad campaigns for unhealthy products, the AAP recommends the promotion of media literacy for children. Learning to be critical viewers could armor kids against advertising blandishments. The statement also warns that TV is not the only avenue for ads directed at kids. Increasingly, advertisers are turning to the internet and infiltrating school systems around the country to turn kids into consumers of their often unhealthy products. The statement recommends that pediatricians work with parents, schools, community groups, and others to ban or severely curtain school-based advertising in all its forms, and requests pediatricians to ban magazines with ads for tobacco and alcohol from their waiting rooms. You can read the policy statement in full at http://www.aap.org/ and in the December issue of Pediatrics.