A Hollywood filmmaker turned pediatrician will speak on using media to help kids during this year’s Harshman Lecture at the University of Guelph.

Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard University, will discuss “Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood From a River of Electronic Screens” Sept. 29, 7 p.m. The lecture, to be followed by a reception, will take place at the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre.

Rich will discuss how parents and other caregivers can tell whether media are helping or harming children, and how to ensure that the media environment supports children’s health and development.

“Increasingly kids are exposed to and using various forms of electronic media,” said Prof. Michael Nightingale, acting chair of the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition (FRAN).

“There are a lot of mixed messages for parents and teachers about both the potential and dangers of screen time. As both a former Hollywood filmmaker and a pediatrician, Dr. Rich is uniquely positioned to help us understand how to raise happy and healthy children in our media-saturated environment.”

Rich spent 12 years as a filmmaker, including serving as assistant director on Akira Kurosawa’s 1980 film Kagemusha, before pursuing medicine. Today he combines medicine and media in his health research and clinical work.

He is principal investigator of the Manchester Media Study. The study tracks a youth cohort in Manchester, New Hampshire, measuring their media exposure and related health and development each year.

His innovative child health research has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, Primetime with Diane Sawyer and National Public Radio.

Sponsored by the Harshman Foundation, this lecture series began a year after the death in 1977 of Dr. Page Harshman, former chair of the foundation. Previously involved through U of G’s former College of Family and Consumer Studies, the Harshman Foundation now supports undergraduate and graduate scholarships in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.

The lecture is free and open to the public. RSVP to FRAN.

Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
519-824-4120, Ext. 56321