By: Jamal Spraggins, Class of 2016
When starting out in the MSHC program, I was enthusiastic about the different classes I would be taking. One thing I felt that I was lacking in undergrad were classes that not only challenged me, but I genuinely enjoyed taking and doing the assignments. While in the program, I took several classes that were both challenging and enjoyable. But my favorite class had to be the Child Health and Media class that I took in the summer quarter.
The class was designed to explore the relationship between the media and the health and wellness of children in this country, something I never thought to compare. The professor of this class was mother of two small kids, so she would often incorporate her real life experiences into her lectures. I remember the first assignment we had, which was to look up old videos of food commercials that we used to watch when we were kids. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I knew that I had a lot of products I could choose from. I spent hours on YouTube, looking at countless commercials, it made me a bit nostalgic. Each time I looked at a McDonald’s commercial with the “Hamburglar” or another character, I went back to my childhood and reminisced on how happy something as simple as happy meal made me.
During the next class meeting, everyone showed videos of different commercials from their childhood. It became apparent how young I really was in comparisons to majority of the group because a lot of commercials they showed came out way before I was born. What made the assignment more interesting was that a lot of the products we used to love during childhood, are rarely a top food option today. The professor asked us if we have or would let our children consume a lot of the food we enjoyed as kids and a lot of us said that we would not. We realized that although these treats were amazing to us as kids, they weren’t the most healthy or nutritious.
Thanks to the media revealing how certain items, like breakfast cereals, can be packed with sugar and aren’t as nutritious as advertisers might have you believe, many of people have cut back on the regular consumption of these products and would not allow their children to eat them regularly because of the known nutritional value. This assignment showed that the media can have a positive effect on the health and wellness of children because by showing the nutrition value of products, parents are now more informed, allowing them to make better decisions on what they will allow their kids to eat.
This assignment was one of many that not only challenged and intrigued me, but also reassured me that the program was doing a good job to inspire the students.